Policy Brief: Seattle, WA

Seattle commercial buildings must rate and disclose energy benchmarking scoresIn January 2010, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed CB 116731, an ordinance that requires benchmarking and disclosure for nonresidential and multifamily buildings. The ordinance expands on the Green Building Capital Initiative, a comprehensive strategy proposed in 2009 by former Mayor Greg Nickels to reduce the climate impact from Seattle's homes and buildings. 

The design of the benchmarking requirement is based on proposals from the City of Seattle's Green Building Task Force. The 50-member group of public- and private-sector stakeholders met in 2008 and 2009 to generate policy recommendations for achieving energy efficiency and consumption reduction targets laid out in the Green Building Capital Initiative. Their findings were issued in April 2009 and incorporated into legislation that was ultimately signed by Mayor Mike McGinn on Feb. 1, 2010. The Seattle policy compliments a transactional commercial rating program in Washington State.

Key Provisions

Owners of nonresidential and multifamily buildings must benchmark energy performance with Energy Star Portfolio Manager and the disclose their results to the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and to transactional parties. Nonresidential buildings 20,000 square feet or larger and multifamily buildings with four or more units are subject to the requirement. Initial compliance is being phased-in from 2011 to 2012 according to the following schedule:

            • April 1, 2012 for nonresidential buildings 50,000 square feet and greater;
            • Oct. 1, 2012 for multifamily buildings 50,000 square feet and greater;
            • April 1, 2013 for nonresidential and multifamily 20,000 to 49,999 square feet;
            • April 1, 2013 for nonresidential and multifamily buildings less than 20,000 square feet*

Building owners must thereafter annually report benchmarking data to DPD and disclose a Statement of Energy Performance to current tenants as well as prospective buyers, tenants, and lenders.

*Voluntary reporting

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Seattle Energy Benchmarking Helpline (EnergyBenchmarking@
; 206-727-8484

Seattle Building Energy Benchmarking and Reporting webpage

Benchmarking Law Rulemaking (May 2012)

Council Bill 116731 (2011)

Seattle Green Building Capital Initiative (2009)