Five things businesses should know about San José’s Energy and Water Building Performance Ordinance

The City of San José adopted the Energy and Water Building Performance Ordinance (BPO) as a first policy step in the implementation of Climate Smart San José, the City’s new climate action plan for reducing community-wide greenhouse gas emissions and water use.

The BPO prioritizes the City’s largest energy and water users — large commercial and multifamily buildings — and will encourage them to track their resource use and make improvements to their buildings over time.

Here are five things to know about this new ordinance: 

    1. More than 26 cities around the United States have comparable benchmarking ordinances. San José has gleaned best practices from cities like Boston, Denver and Los Angeles to create the best and most effective ordinance possible. These cities have all seen great community benefits. Benchmarked buildings in Washington, D.C., have documented an average reduction in energy use of 9 percent from 2010 to 2012. In Chicago, on average, reporting properties improved their energy performance by 8 percent in just one year, saving more than $16 million dollars in energy costs.What’s more, the BPO builds on state law AB 802 to create a locally tailored ordinance, designed to capture more savings and offer more actionable solutions for buildings. For more information on AB 802, please visit
    2. The BPO will require commercial and multifamily buildings that are 20,000 square feet and larger in size to track their energy and water use over time using the free Environmental Protection Agency platform ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® and report annual whole building consumption data to the City on a yearly basis. Annual benchmarking reporting deadlines begin May 1, 2019, for buildings that are 50,000 square feet and larger; May 1, 2020, for buildings between 20,000 to 50,000 square feet in size. The City will publish a subset of reported data to educate the market on the efficiency of the buildings where we live and work. Additionally, on a five-year cycle, buildings will be required to either: document that they have met key performance metrics or improved their performance over that time, or; complete an audit or building retuning or, in some cases, perform simple upgrades.
    3. Don’t know if your building is covered by the BPO? You can refer to our list of covered buildings at, where you can search by address or tax assessor parcel number. This list will be updated annually. If you own a commercial or multifamily building that is 50,000 square feet in size or larger and you are not on the list, please reach out and we can determine whether you are covered and update our records accordingly.
    4. You should start collecting your benchmarking data now, as there are several steps required in the compliance process that can take some time to complete. There are many factors that will affect how long it takes to benchmark your building for compliance, but typically setting up your Portfolio Manager account the first time is the most time-consuming, while ongoing management requires little effort. Factors might include whether you have all the needed use details on hand – such as number of workers, number of computers and hours of operation – or whether you possess a large number of buildings within your property or company.  If you have your use details on hand, it could take as little as one or two hours to set up a building in Portfolio Manager, but it could take several sittings to complete the process from start to finish. If you are concerned about meeting the reporting deadline — no worries! We encourage you to complete a reporting extension form.
    5. You can hire a third party to assist you with the benchmarking process. The City cannot endorse any service providers but is currently working to develop a list of local vendors. In the meantime, you can refer to ENERGY STAR’s list of Most Active Service and Product Providers. We highly encourage you to reach out to several for quotes and to request references from past clients!

The City provides direct assistance with benchmarking and compliance for this ordinance

We are happy to chat with you about your building, provide 1-1 assistance, or give you information about how to improve your efficiency. Call our Benchmarking Hotline at (408) 975-2540, which is staffed during regular business hours every Monday-Friday (excluding City holidays). Or email us at and we will respond within five business days.

For more resources, such as recorded and upcoming live webinars, visit