Benchmarking - Chicago, IL


Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance

Chicago initiated the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda in September of 2012. This plan focused on seven areas and included 100 individual actions, with a key target being energy efficiency. Under the Retrofit Chicago Policy, commercial, residential, and municipal buildings are being targeted to cut energy use and greenhouse gases.

Chicago has long had a residential energy disclosure policy entitling prospective buyers and tenants of residential properties to a utility use disclosure. In June of 2013, Mayor Emanuel introduced the Chicago Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance. This ordinance was passed in a 32-7 vote on September 11, 2013.

Implementation & Deadline

Implementation: 2013 - 2015

Annual Reporting Deadline: June 1

This ordinance requires all commercial, residential, and government buildings over 50,000 square feet to annually evaluate energy performance using Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Buildings excluded from reporting include industrial facilities, storage units, and hazardous use units. Properties under construction and those under financial distress can also be exempted. In total, the law covers over 900 million square feet of real estate - the second largest total of all American cities with comparable laws.

In the first year, and every third year, the energy data submitted through Portfolio Manager must be verified by a licensed professional (architect, engineer, or other, as allowed).

Rating Tool

Portfolio Manager, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Public website, Government

Building Types & Sizes

June 1, 2014 for commercial buildings 250,000 square feet or larger

June 1, 2015 for residential buildings 250,000 square feet or larger

June 1, 2015 for commercial buildings between 50,000 to 250,000 square feet

June 1, 2016 for residential buildings between 50,000 to 250,000 square feet

Under the proposed ordinance, approximately 3,500 commercial, residential, and municipal buildings over 50,000 square feet will be required to track and verify energy consumption using Portfolio Manager.


Any person who violates this ordinance may be subject to a fine of up to $100.00 for the first violation, and an additional fine of up to $25.00 for each day that the violation continues.


The Commissioner may exempt from the benchmarking requirement the owner of a covered building that submits documentation, in a form prescribed by rule, establishing any of the following:

- The building is experiencing qualifying financial distress (see the rules for a more specific definition),

- The building had average physical occupancy of less than 50% throughout the calendar year for which benchmarking is required, or

- The building is a new construction and the building's certificate of occupancy was issued during the calendar year for which benchmarking is required.

Additional Information

ECO Zero Auditing Partners

ECO Zero is actively soliciting auditing partners in the Chicago area. Please check back here for names of auditors and companies who can provide benchmarking services using our tools.

Other Resources

Other resources will be uploaded as they become available.
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* May not be fully accurate!