Sharing Transparency for a More Efficient Future


Chicago, Illinois, photo by Semmick Photo
Policy Description:

Building on a strong legacy of sustainability, Mayor Rahm Emanuel kicked off the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda in September of 2012. Of the seven themes and 100 individual actions, energy efficiency stands out as a key component for emissions reductions and economic development. Policy measures like Retrofit Chicago highlight the importance of the building sector. Moreover, the city has long had a residential building energy disclosure policy on the books. Prospective buyers and tenants of residential properties are entitled to a utility use disclosure. In keeping with the spirit of such programs, and to promote the city as a locus of green jobs and sustainability innovation, Mayor Emanuel introduced the Chicago Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance (No. SO2013-1645) to City Council on June 26, 2013. On September 11, 2013, the Council voted 32-7 to approve the ordinance. The ordinance requires all commercial, residential, and government buildings over 50,000 square feet to annually evaluate energy performance using Energy Star Portfolio Manager. In total, the law covers over 900 million square feet of real estate--the second largest total of all American cities with comparable laws. Energy consumption and performance scores will be posted annually to a municipal website. In the first years, data will be aggregated at the city-level, but starting in the second year of reporting, individual buildings will be identified. Data can be submitted to the city thorugh the Portfolio Manager tool. In the first year, and every third year, the data must be verified by a licensed professional (architect, engineer, or other, as allowed).

Enacted Date:
Authority in Charge:
City's Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
Tool Name:
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
Building Types Affected Size Compliance Deadline
Public/Government Greater Than or Equal To 250,000 Sq. Feet 2014-06-01
Public/Government Greater Than or Equal To 50,000 Sq. Feet 2015-06-01
Non-Residential Greater Than or Equal To 250,000 Sq. Feet 2014-06-01
Non-Residential Greater Than or Equal To 50,000 Sq. Feet 2015-06-01
Multi-Family Greater Than or Equal To 250,000 Sq. Feet 2015-06-01
Multi-Family Greater Than or Equal To 50,000 Sq. Feet 2016-06-01
Requirements do not apply to any building with more than 10 percent occupancy use classified as Class D open air assembly units, Class G industrial units, Class H storage units, Class I hazardous use units, or Class J miscellaneous buildings and structures, as defined by Chapter 13-56. Additional exemptions include: a) The building is presently experiencing qualifying financial distress. b) The building or areas of the building subject to the requirements of this section have been less than 50 percent occupied during the calendar year for which benchmarking is required. c) The building is new construction and the certificate of occupancy was issued less than two years prior to the applicable benchmarking deadlines. The City will not publicly share data for buildings that contain a data center, television studio, or trading floor that together exceed 10% of gross area.
Number of Buildings Affected:
Floor Area Affected:
900,000,000 Sq. Feet
Required Transparency:
Transparency Method:
Public Website
Public Website
Transparency Trigger:
Date Certain
Exemptions: Properties with > 10% of space used for data centers, TV studios, or trading floors
Required Reporting:
Reporting Trigger:
Date Certain
Reporting Frequency:
The following building loads can be excluded from benchmarking where separately metered: a) Broadcast antennas b) Cell towers c) Electric vehicle charging d) Emergency generators not used to power regular building operations e) Separately-metered fire pumps

Utility Requirements/Support:

Utility Requirements/Support:
Owners may authorize utilities to upload whole building energy data directly to Portfolio Manager.


Prior to the first benchmarking deadline and prior to each third benchmarking deadline thereafter, the owner of a covered building shall ensure that reported benchmarking information for that year is verified by a professional engineer, architect, or holder of a City-recognized training credential.


Compliance Enforcement:
Penalties for Non-Compliance:
Owner subject up to $100 fine for 1st violation and additional fines up to $25/day
Number of Buildings in Compliance:
Area of Buildings in Compliance:
210,200,000 Sq. Feet
Compliance Rate (Based on # of Buildings):
Compliance Rate (Based on Building Area):
Compliance numbers represent 2014 data, taken from the 2015 Chicago benchmarking report.
Additional Program Information:
Water Use Tracking: