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Chicago Energy Benchmarking Update – Comply by 8/1/2015

In September 2013, Mayor Emanuel and Chicago’s City Council adopted the Chicago Energy Benchmarking ordinance to raise awareness of energy performance through information and transparency, with the goal of unlocking energy and cost savings opportunities for businesses and residents. Improving energy efficiency is a key element of Sustainable Chicago 2015, Mayor Emanuel’s action agenda to make Chicago more livable, competitive, and sustainable.

The ordinance calls on existing municipal, commercial, and residential buildings 50,000 square feet and larger to track whole-building energy use, report to the City annually, and verify data accuracy every three years. The law covers less than 1% of Chicago’s buildings, which together account for roughly 20% of total energy used by all buildings, and focuses on creating information that will enable better decision-making around building energy use. For more details on the ordinance, visit the City’s website at:

In 2014, almost 350 commercial and municipal buildings covering over 260 million square feet of space complied with the Ordinance, representing approximately 11% of citywide energy use. For a summary of 2014 findings, please refer to the 2014 Chicago Energy Benchmarking Report (link) and Infographic (link).

In 2015, the Ordinance applies to commercial and municipal buildings larger than 50,000 square feet and residential buildings larger than 250,000 square feet. Next year in 2016, the Ordinance will apply to residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. Buildings reporting for the first time in 2015 are required to benchmark, verify, and report data. Commercial and municipal buildings that verified data in 2014 will benchmark and report in 2015 but are not required to obtain official data verification again until 2017. Exemptions are available for financial hardship, new construction, or low occupancy; visit the City’s website to find out more and to request an exemption:

Buildings covered in 2015 should have received a notification letter earlier this year, and a sample notification is available online. If you believe your building is covered but did not receive a letter, you may request information online; for questions about this form, please contact the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center at (855) 858-6878 (M-F 9am-5pm) or by email to: Also, all complete submissions received by August 1st, 2015 will be treated as in compliance with the ordinance this year. After 2015, June 1st will remain the ongoing annual deadline.

Numerous resources are available to support covered buildings, including Step-by-Step Guidance materials, a schedule and signups for free benchmarking trainings, and information about data verification. Pro-bono data verification services are also available for buildings in need, such as nonprofits or faith-based organizations. To find out more information, visit the City’s website:

For questions, contact the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Help Center: (855) 858-6878 (M-F 9am-5pm) or email to:

Posted in Community Development, Business & Economic Development