In February of this year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance with the intent to increase the energy and resource efficiency of existing buildings to meet the City’s aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets.   

The  city’s Climate Action Plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 1990 levels and lays out key action areas: energy efficiency, renewable energy, solid waste management and transportation.  Commercial buildings present a ripe target for energy efficiency and carbon reduction initiatives – and the biggest opportunity lies with existing structures, which far out-number new buildings.  

The current commercial building stock in San Francisco is approximately 196 million square feet.  The ordinance will apply to roughly 3,000 commercial buildings encompassing more than 160 million square feet.

Energy Ordinance

Owners must annually benchmark commercial buildings’ energy usage using EPA ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and report an Annual Energy Benchmark Summary (AEBS) to the San Francisco Department of the Environment (SFDOE) and to existing tenants in the building according to the schedule below:

  • October 1, 2011: Buildings 75,000 SF and greater
  • April 1, 2012: Buildings 30,000 SF to 69,999 SF
  • April 1, 2013: Buildings 10,000 SF to 29,999 SF

Owners also are required to conduct a comprehensive energy audit for each building.  Energy efficiency audits shall meet or exceed ASHRAE procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits (2004) and must be performed by or under the supervision of an Energy Professional.

  • ASHRAE Level II Audit: Buildings 50,000 SF and greater
  • ASHRAE Level I Audit: Buildings 10,000 SF to 49,999 SF

The Energy Professional shall prepare, sign and deliver to the owner a report of the energy efficiency audit which shall include: the date the audit was performed, a list of all retro-commissioning and retrofit measures available, and an estimate of the approximate energy savings and avoided energy costs. 

Energy Reporting and Disclosure

The owner of every nonresidential building greater than 10,000 SF shall annually file with the SFDOE the following reports:

  • AEBS with 12 previous months of data for each building using Portfolio Manager
  • Energy Audit Report for each building according to the schedule below:
  1. Due dates for initial energy efficiency audits for all covered buildings shall be staggered over a three-year rolling deadline, starting no later than 12 months from the effective date of the ordinance, with subsequent energy efficiency audits and audit reports due every five years thereafter.
  2. All buildings required to undertake an energy efficiency audit shall be assigned a specific date when a completed audit is due
  3. The SFDOE shall notify the owner of each covered building of the ordinance requirements one year prior to the date an energy efficiency audit is required to be completed

In an effort to encourage building occupants to save energy, building owners must make the AEBS available to all tenants occupying the building.

Ordinance Violations and Penalties

IF an owner fails to file an AEBS report for 30 days or more after the relevant deadline, the SFDOE can issue a written warning.  If the violation is not corrected after 45 days of written notice, the SFDOE may impose the administrative fines as follows:

  • Buildings 50,000 SF or greater: Up to $100 per day for a maximum of 25 days in any 12 month period
  • Buildings 49,999 SF or less: Up to $50 per day for a maximum of 25 days in any 12 month period

For the full text of the ordinance click here, or feel free to email me with any quetsions, [email protected].