Don’t delay: First building energy benchmarking deadline is June 1st!

March 16, 2016
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Learn about benchmarking, who needs to comply with the law, and step-by-step instructions for how to benchmark and report your building to DEP.

Montgomery County passed a benchmarking and transparency law (Bill 2-14, and amended with Bill 35-15), requiring the County and building owners to benchmark energy use in certain nonresidential buildings of 50,000 square feet or greater with the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool, have those data verified by a Recognized Data Verifier, and disclose those data to Montgomery County’s Department of Environmental Protection.


What is Energy Benchmarking?

Energy Benchmarking means tracking a building’s energy use and using a standard metric to compare the building’s performance against past performance and to its peers nationwide. Benchmarking improves our understanding of energy consumption patterns; compares energy use against past performance and other similar buildings; helps identify energy saving opportunities; and manages business bottom line through consistent data tracking.


Who Needs to Comply with the Law?

There are three groups of Covered buildings required to benchmark under the Benchmarking Law in Montgomery County:

A table showing the covered building groups, building sizes, calendar years of data, and reporting deadlines


Not sure if you need to benchmark your building? Take a look at DEP’s preliminary building inventory.

Note: This inventory is an approximation, meant to raise awareness about the law and help identify the buildings covered by the law. Each building owner will need to confirm their own building square footage to determine coverage under the law.


I’ve never benchmarked before—where do I start?

Benchmarking the energy performance of your buildings is a key first step to understanding and reducing energy consumption and your carbon footprint. With a few simple steps, you’ll be ready to comply with the County’s law and tackle energy-saving projects. DEP recommends taking a look at Montgomery County’s Official Benchmarking Guide (PDF, 1.88 MB).


Step 1:

Gather your energy utility bills for your whole building for calendar year 2015, building operation information, and your 8-digit Montgomery County Building ID (MBID).

You may need to contact your building tenants for complete information about your building characteristics before entering data into Portfolio Manager. Make sure to request any space data needed from your tenant in writing no later than March 31 each year—they have 30 days to respond to your request. You can use DEP’s tenant information request template (MS Word, 99 KB) as a guide to collect benchmarking data.


Step 2:

Once you’ve collected the necessary data, benchmarking is fairly easy. ENERGY STAR has a great benchmarking starter kit you can use to get going.


Portfolio Manager logo


Create a new property in Portfolio Manager and follow the prompts for entering data. If you don’t know all the information right away (i.e., number of computers, operating hours), that’s ok! You can always use Portfolio Manager’s estimates temporarily and revise it later. Make sure to enter your MBID number in the Standard IDs section of your property profile. Once you’re done entering data, run the Data Quality Checker in Portfolio Manager to resolve any data issues.


Step 3:

Before reporting your benchmarking data to DEP, you’ll need to complete verification, a best practice to ensure that building and energy data have been entered accurately.

During the first year of reporting and every three years after, buildings are required to have their Portfolio Manager data verified by a Recognized Data Verifier before submitting data to DEP. To complete verification, a professional with a recognized verification credential must complete EPA’s Data Verification Checklist while confirming the building and energy data. Building owners should hold onto the completed Data Verification Checklist and enter the Recognized Data Verifier credential information in Portfolio Manager. Having the ENERGY STAR label can also be used for verification.


Step 4:

Report your benchmarking data to DEP using this reporting link by June 1, 2016. Note, DEP will post a new reporting link for each compliance year.

This link will take you to the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account log-in screen—after logging in, you’ll see step-by-step instructions on the Data Request page. Select the buildings you would like to report to the County, preview the response, click “Send Response,” and e-sign your data before pressing “Send Data.” DEP will review the data and follow-up with any questions or recommendations.


A screenshot of the Portfolio Manager website that shows instructions for filling out the Montgomery County benchmarking template

What benchmarking data will be disclosed?

The Benchmarking Law requires the County to make reported benchmarking information readily available to the public. The first year’s data of each reporting group will not be disclosed. Disclosure will begin the second year of each building group’s reporting. To see the metrics that will be disclosed, read DEP’s fact sheet (PDF, 26 KB).


What can I do if I still have questions?

Visit DEP’s comprehensive Benchmarking webpage:

Read DEP’s FAQs that cover the ins and outs of the Law.

Check out EPA’s Help Desk for any technical questions about ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

For anything else, contact DEP’s Energy team at



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