Ordinance 17-11, passed February 8, 2011, amends the San Francisco Environment Code and requires owners of existing nonresidential buildings to conduct energy-efficiency audits and file annual energy benchmark summaries for their properties. The requirement to submit benchmark summaries and efficiency audits generally applies only to existing nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet. Combined with existing finance and incentive programs for energy efficient building renovation, the Department of Environment (the Department) estimates that in the first five years this new ordinance will double the current rate of commercial energy-efficiency activity. This will create many new jobs in construction, engineering, operating, sales, and tech innovation and generate an estimated net value of $600 million in private sector energy savings.

Annual Energy Benchmark Summary

Owners are required to determine how much energy their building consumes and to make that information public on an annual basis in the form of benchmark summaries. This requirement is an effort to determine the energy performance of whole buildings for the purposes of motivating and tracking improvement, targeting incentives and resources, and enabling comparison to similar facilities. The summaries submitted to the Department must utilize the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager rating tool and present weather-normalized use data, annual emissions due to energy use, date of last efficiency audit, and available retro-commissioning and retrofit measures, among other details. Only basic use information and the status of compliance with this ordinance will be made public for each building, though owners are required to make the annual summary report available to tenants for the purpose of engaging occupants in efficiency efforts.

For buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, a benchmark summary must be submitted on or before October 1, 2011. For buildings between 25,000 and 49,999 square feet, the initial deadline is April 1, 2012, and for those between 10,000 and 24,999 square feet, it is April 1, 2013. Annual benchmark summaries are expected annually by April 1 thereafter.

Energy Efficiency Audits

Owners must, for each building, conduct a whole building audit that meets or exceeds the standards of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The level of detail required in an audit is proportionate to the building’s scale. Buildings between 10,000 and 49,999 square feet must meet the ASHRAE Level I standard (or the San Francisco Energy Watch standard or other standard approved by the city), requiring a brief on-site survey and cost analysis for low-cost and no-cost energy-saving measures as well as potential capital improvements. Buildings over 50,000 square feet, require the more rigorous ASHRAE Level II standard (or the San Francisco Energy Watch standard or other standard approved by the city), involving a more detailed on-site survey and analysis to identify all practical measures for energy reduction.

The timeline for audits will also be staggered by square footage. Buildings will be divided into three groups, and building owners will be notified in early August 2011 whether their first audit is due in August 2012, April 2013, or April 2014. By April 2014, all buildings will have been audited and should have a clear plan with options for energy savings. Updates are required every five years, and building owners will be notified a year in advance of their expected completion so that starting in 2017, the Department will annually process updated audits from roughly 20% of nonresidential buildings in the city.

Exceptions and Enforcement

All existing nonresidential buildings over 10,000 square feet are subject to the annual benchmark requirement, though in some instances owners are exempted from auditing requirements, including buildings constructed fewer than five years prior the audit deadline; buildings that have regularly received the ENERGY STAR label from the US EPA; and buildings certified under the LEED Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance program. Furthermore, audit deadlines may be extended for building owners in financial distress and those facing a simultaneous deadline for three or more buildings.

For those building owners who do not fall in any exemption category and fail to submit records on time and fail to comply within 45 days after a written warning is issued, the Department may impose administrative fines on the building owner. For buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, fines can be up to $100 per day for a maximum of 25 days in one 12-month period, and for buildings smaller than 50,000 square feet, the fines can total $50 a day up to 25 days in one 12-month period.

Source: Environment Code – Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance No. 17-11 File No. 101105