Sharing Transparency for a More Efficient Future

Berkeley, California Adopts Benchmarking Ordinance

Berkeley Energy Saving Ordinance was adopted into law on unanimous consent on March 10, 2015. The ordinance will require energy assessments at time of sale for medium, small, and single family buildings, as well phased-in by building size and year for all buildings, with the exception of single family homes (1 to 4 units). This energy and water efficiency information will provide Berkeley property owners and potential buyers with an efficiency road map tailored for their building and link them to valuable incentives and resources provided through utility rate-payer efficiency funds. The goal of BESO is to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions reductions to help us meet our Climate Action goals, save money on utility bills, and improve occupant health and comfort.

2015 Implementation Timeline Please note in the timeline below that the Residential and Commercial Energy Conservation Ordinance (RECO and CECO) are in effect until December 1, 2015. 

  • October 9, 2015 Transition from RECO and CECO, properties being sold may comply with either RECO/CECO or the new BESO

  • December 1, 2015 Effective date of BESO. All medium, small and single family buildings being sold must do one of the following:

    1. Demonstrate building is high performance, with high energy score or participation in Energy Upgrade California; or    

    2. Conduct an energy opportunity assessment and disclose to potential buyers; or

    3. Transfer the responsibility to complete the energy assessment to the buyer to complete in 12 months

  • October 1, 2016 Buildings that are 50,000 square feet or more (including multifamily, commercial and mixed use buildings) will report Energy Star Performance Score and demonstrate High Performance or conduct energy opportunity assessment. All buildings, except single family (1 to 4 units) will be phased in over time through 2020.

BESO will do the following:

  1. Require large (25,000 square feet or more) commercial, multifamily, and mixed use buildings to report annual energy use information, and conduct and disclose a site-specific energy efficiency assessment of potential energy and cost-saving opportunities as specified in the phase-in schedule

  2. Require medium (5,000 to 24,999 square feet) and small (below 5,000 square feet) commercial, multifamily and mixed use buildings to conduct and disclose a site-specific energy efficiency assessment at the time of sale or as specified in the phase-in schedule (whichever comes first)

  3. Require single family residential buildings (1 to 4 units) to conduct and disclose a site specific energy efficiency assessment at time of sale

  4. Simplify the compliance process by enabling online applications and a single site visit

  5. Report a summary of the energy assessments and the benchmark score, if applicable, on a City website

  6. Provide exemptions and deferrals from requirements for: 

    • High performance buildings with high scores or upgrades;

    • Buildings with low energy use as demonstrated by utility bill reporting;

    • Financial hardship including owners participating in energy assistance and/or property tax assistance programs; and

    • Time of sale, to allow buyers to accept responsibility for conducting assessment within 12 months of purchase

  7. Direct the Energy Commission to evaluate ordinance in 3 years and reconsider phased-in requirements for single family homes not meeting exemption and deferral criteria

 For more information, please contact Billi Romain at

The Role of RECO and CECO Berkeley's current RECO and CECO laws require buildings that are transferred or remodeled to install water and energy saving measures in order to reduce the electricity and natural gas usage and curb greenhouse gas emissions. RECO and CECO, enacted in 1987 and 1994 respectively, have played an important role in improving the energy efficiency of the existing building stock and saving the community money on utility bills while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Energy Audit Resources

  • Home Energy Audits (for single-family homes and small buildings with 1-4 residential units) for information on energy efficiency improvements and home energy audits, see Energy Efficiency Upgrades.

  • Building Energy Benchmarking with ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager (for commercial buildings and multifamily  buildings with 5 or more residential units), see PG&E's Energy Performance Benchmarking.

  • Rebates and Programs for completing energy audits and energy efficiency improvements, see Energy Efficiency Resources.


Effective Date: 
10 March 2015