An evaluation of the City of Seattle’s technical support program for building energy benchmarking and reporting in 2013 confirms that a well-staffed and service-oriented help desk, coupled with proactive outreach by help desk staff and web-based integration with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, were essential to achieving high compliance rates among building owners, and in many cases helped transform skeptical owners into energy efficiency champions. The City of Seattle operated a comprehensive technical support program for its building energy benchmarking and reporting ordinance in 2013. Building owners and managers required to comply with the law had access to live telephone and email support five days a week through the city’s benchmarking help desk. The help desk also proactively reached out to owners/managers to help them complete the benchmarking process and correct reporting errors. This proactive outreach was aided by the city’s direct link to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Portfolio Manager tool, which provides real-time access to building energy data and reports.
The report shows that this attributes were instrumental to the success of the city’s benchmarking program. The help desk was more than just a technical support line: it was a lifeline for building owners and managers, and played a major role in boosting compliance rates, improving data accuracy and creating goodwill among owners and managers required to comply with the law.
Key findings included:
- Seattle’s robust benchmarking help desk resulted in the highest compliance rates in the nation.
- Technical assistance improved data quality.
- Providing ample technical support to building owners and managers established greater policy awareness, understanding, acceptance and—in some cases—support.
- Providing building owners and managers with benchmarking support creates opportunities to engage in conversations about improving building energy efficiency.
- Technical assistance was critical to the success of Seattle’s energy benchmarking and reporting program.
- Seattle’s one-stop-shop model of technical support streamlined the benchmarking process for owners/managers and helped local utilities and EPA improve systems and customer service.