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Benchmarking FAQs

Question: What is Benchmarking

Answer: Benchmarking is a new law that requires owners of buildings 50,000 square feet or larger and owners of two or more buildings on the same tax lot that are larger than 100,000 square feet, to annually submit a report to the City on their building’s energy use. Two or more buildings that are held as condominiums, are governed by the same board of managers and are together larger than 100,000 square feet, are also required to comply with the law.

Question: What is the deadline for submitting my Benchmarking report?

Answer: The annual deadline is May 1.

Question: How do I know if I must submit a Benchmarking report?

Answer: The City’s Department of Finance maintains a record of all buildings that are required to submit an annual Benchmarking report. Based on their records the Department of Finance sent out notices in December 2010 to all building owners that are required to comply with the Benchmarking law. Going forward, the Department of Finance will include notice of that a building owner needs to submit a Benchmarking report on the owner’s Statement of Account (SOA) notices that are mailed the owners of covered buildings.

If you would like to confirm if a particular building must comply with the Benchmarking law, please visit the City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan’s website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP and click on the section titled, Who is Covered by the Laws.

Question: I received a notice from the City stating I must submit a Benchmarking report, but I do not think I should have to submit a report. What should I do?

Answer: If you believe that your building should not have to submit a Benchmarking report, you must send an email to the Department of Finance at benchmarking@finance.nyc.gov. Please include the following information in your email:

  • Your building’s borough, block and lot number
  • Your contact name
  • Your contact email address and/or telephone number
  • The reason you are disputing your building’s square footage

Question: How do I get started filling out my Benchmarking report?

Answer: To fill out your Benchmarking report, you must use the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s free Portfolio Manager Tool. You can find the Portfolio Manager Tool by visiting the City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan’s website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP and clicking on the section titled, Where To Get Training- Training Related to Benchmarking (LL84). This section also provides additional information on the Portfolio Manager Tool, including a training tutorial and information on creating your own account.

If you have never used the Portfolio Manager Tool before, you will need to set-up an account before you can begin entering your data. To set-up an account visit the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan’s website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP and click on the section titled, Benchmarking Starter Kit. You can also set up an account by going directly to the Portfolio Manager Tool’s website at www.energystar.gov and following the New User instructions.

Question: How do I get the information on my building’s energy use?

Answer: You can find guidance on how to get your building’s energy use data by visiting the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan’s website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP and clicking on the “Here” link to access the City’s Benchmarking Rule. You may also find it helpful to read the section on the Greener, Greater Building’s Plan website about obtaining aggregated energy use data from your utility and/or consulting their Compliance Checklist and User Guide under the Step by Step Benchmarking Guidelines section.

Reminder, you will need to collect information on your building’s energy use for the previous calendar year (January 1 – December 31). This includes data on all types of energy that your building uses, including electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and steam.

Question: Is there a form that I have to send to my tenants?

Answer: If you have separately metered, non-residential tenants – i.e., non-residential tenants who have their own meter to measure their own energy use –  you are required to provide each of them with the Non-Residential Tenant Data Collection Form. You can find the form on the Urban Green Council’s City’s Greener, Greater Building’s website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP under the section titled, Non-Residential Tenant Data Collection Form. You can use this form to collect energy and space use information. In the event that you obtain aggregated energy use data for your building, you and your tenants can ignore the energy use portion of this form and proceed directly to the space use information section. 

If you distribute this form to your tenants, they are required to return it to you and you are required to keep a copy of it for three years from the May 1 submission date. 

You are not required to distribute this form to any residential tenants as the Benchmarking law does not require owners to request energy use information from their separately-metered residential tenants.

Question: I’ve read through the material on setting up an account with the Portfolio Manager Tool and the training material, but I am still confused. Is there anywhere that I can get further instruction on how to submit my Benchmarking report?

Answer: For more training information visit the City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan’s website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP and click on the section titled, Training Related to Benchmarking (LL84) – Live Training. You may also find it helpful to consult the Urban Green Council’s Compliance Checklist and User Guide, which is available on their website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP under the section titled, Step by Step Benchmarking Guidance.

The providers listed in this section are not affiliated with the City of New York and the City makes no endorsements or guarantees regarding the services they provide.

Question: Is there anyone I can hire to complete my Benchmarking report for me?

Answer: The City is prohibited from recommending any particular private entity to provide any service.

Question: I have input all of my energy use and space use information into my Portfolio Manager Account. What do I do next?

Answer: At this point, go to the City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan’s website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP and click on the section titled, Submitting Benchmarking to the City. This link will provide you with access to your custom Benchmarking report. Please review the step-by-step instructions in this section on completing the New York City custom Benchmarking report. 

It is very important to remember that compliance with the Benchmarking Rule is a two-step process.  Step one is entering your space use and energy use information into your Portfolio Manager account. Step two is releasing your data to the City though the custom Benchmarking report described above.  If you only enter your data into Portfolio Manager, but don’t release your data, then you are not in compliance with the law and are at risk of receiving a violation for non-compliance. 

Question: Is there a form that I can use to complete my Benchmarking report?

Answer: Your Benchmarking report must be completed using the online Portfolio Manager Tool. You can find the Tool on the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan’s website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP.

Question: I have entered all of my energy data into the Portfolio Manager Tool, how do I submit this information to the City?

Answer: Once you have entered all of your building’s energy use data, click on the “Release Data” tab to submit your report.

Question: I have submitted my Benchmarking report. Is there anything else that I need to do?

Answer: No. Once you have submitted your report you will receive a confirmation email from the EPA confirming the date you submitted your report. You must retain this email for three years from the May 1 submission date of the year in which you submitted your report.

Question: Why do I have to keep my Benchmarking documentation for three years?

Answer: The Benchmarking law requires the City to complete an annual report on the progress of the law and because of this, the City may request this material.

Question: What happens if I don’t submit my Benchmarking report?

Answer: If you fail to submit your required Benchmarking report by the May 1 deadline, the City’s Department of Buildings may issue you a violation and may do so at the end of every three-month period for which the report is not submitted. Each violation carries a penalty.

Question: Am I required to submit a Benchmarking report for my building every year?

Answer: Yes.

Questions: In my Benchmarking Report, am I required to include my building’s water use?

Answer: No. The Benchmarking law (Local Law 84 of 2009) states that: "Benchmarking of water use shall not be required unless the building was equipped with automatic meter reading equipment by the [City's] department of environmental protection for the entirety of the previous calendar year."

In the event that your building has not had automatic meter reading equipment installed by DEP and you wish to enter your building's water use into Portfolio Manager, you may do so, but it is not required.

Question: Am I required to enter my building’s energy use data into my Portfolio Manager account on a monthly basis?

Answer: No. To comply with the Benchmarking law, energy use data may be entered at the end of the year or periodically throughout the year.

Question: If I submit my Benchmarking Report and then realize I made a mistake, can I correct my report and resubmit it?

Answer: Yes. Return to your Portfolio Manager account and correct and/or add any additional information. Then, follow the same instructions you followed when you originally submitted your report on the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP and submit your report. Please note that data entered into Portfolio Manager is updated nightly, and therefore, the report will not reflect any changes you make until the next day. It is important to remember that once you complete your data entry into Portfolio Manager, you will always need to wait 24 hours for the information you entered to upload. Then, after 24 hours the information will be entered and you will then be able to release your data to the City as described above.

Question: I sent my separately metered non-residential tenant the Non-Residential Tenant Data Collection Form, but they have not returned it to me. What should I do to complete my Benchmarking Report?

Answer: The Benchmarking law only requires non-residential tenants to complete the Non-Residential Tenant Data Collection Form. If non-residential tenants do not complete the form, the law does not require you make a second attempt to have the tenant complete the form. In this case, to complete your Benchmarking Report you may obtain an aggregate energy use report for your building from your utility. Additionally, you may consider using default values to complete your 2010 and 2011 Benchmarking Reports, due in 2011 and 2012, respectively. For further information on the use of default values, please view the Benchmarking rule.

The use of default values for non-residential tenant space will not be permitted for Benchmarking Reports for 2012, due in 2013, or thereafter. Only actual data will be permitted.

Question: The Benchmarking law states that I must provide energy use data for the calendar year – January 1 – December 31 – but my utility bills do not correspond exactly with the days of each month. I.E. For example, my first bill for the year includes my building’s energy use for the first half of January and my building’s energy use for the second half of December of the previous year. How should I enter this information?

Answer: In this case you may need to enter your building’s energy use data from thirteen months worth of utility bills you have. I.E. to complete your Benchmarking Report for calendar year 2010, you will need to enter the data from your first bill (the one with information from the previous year, December 2009) as well as the following 12 bills for a total of 13 bills entered. Enter the start and end dates as they appear on the 13 bills. The Portfolio Manager Tool will use the full calendar year (12 months) data and will time-weigh any entries that fall partially into the twelve month period of the calendar year.

Question: I have separately metered non-residential tenants, but I have obtained a whole building aggregated energy use report from my utility. Am I still required to send the Non-Residential Tenant Data Collection Form to my tenants?

Answer: Yes, this request is a requirement of the Benchmarking law. In addition to requesting energy use information, the form – available on the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan’s website at www.nyc.gov/GGBP – also requests space use information. If you have obtained aggregated energy data, leave the box on top of the form's second page blank. This advises non-residential tenants that they do not need to provide energy use data and can proceed directly to space use information. If you have not obtained the aggregated energy data, check the box to advise your non-residential tenants that they must provide both energy and space use information.

Question: I own multiple buildings on the same tax lot that share the same heating systems but are otherwise separately metered. How do I complete my Benchmarking Report?

Answer: In such situations, please refer to the guidance in section (i) (2) (ii) of the Benchmarking rule, which reads: “(ii) Multiple buildings on a tax lot that are not separately energy-metered or energy sub-metered and/or that share heating and/or cooling and/or service (domestic) hot water systems must be benchmarked as one building using gross energy consumption by energy type and total gross floor area of all such buildings.”

Question: Portfolio Manger is requiring me to provide the “Year Built” for my building.  How do I determine this?

Answer: If you or your building manager does not have information for the year in which your building was built, there are two other methods for determining the “Year Built” based on when your building was constructed.  

If your building was built after 1938 or had its occupancy altered after 1938, you can find the year in which it was built on the first Certificate of Occupancy (CO) or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) that was issued to the building. COs and TCOs can be found using the Department’s Buildings Information System (BIS) to look up your building. BIS is located on the Department’s homepage at www.nyc.gov/buildings and the COs and TCOs can be found on your building’s Property Profile Overview page, the first page that appears when you look up your building in BIS. Please remember to use the earliest CO or TCO for your current building.  For example, if there was a former building on your building’s lot and it has a CO from 1940 but was demolished and replaced by your building in 1978, you should use the date on the earliest CO that was issued for your – 1978 – for the “Year Built.”

If your building was built prior to 1938, it may not have a CO or TCO because they were not required. If you building does not have a CO or TCO, you will need to obtain a copy of the “I Card” for your building. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has all I-Cards. I-Card copies can be obtained by requesting a copy from the HPD borough office in which your building is located or by using HPD’s building database located on their homepage at www.nyc.gov/hpd.   

Question: I entered my building’s information into the Portfolio Manager Tool and a short while later I went back into my account to check one item, but I couldn’t view the information that I entered.  What happened?  

Answer: If you entered your building’s information correctly into your Portfolio Manager account, it typically takes 24 hours before you can view the information in your account. If after 24 hours you still cannot view the information you entered, either you entered the information incorrectly or there is a problem with the Portfolio Manager Tool. First, try re-entering the information into your account again. If after re-entering the information the problem persists, call the Benchmarking Help Center at 311 or (212) 442-7901.  If there is no one available to answer your question, please leave a message with a call-back number and you will receive a call-back.

Question: After I complete my Benchmarking Report and submit it to the City, how long should it take before I receive my confirmation email that my report was received? 

Answer: You should receive the confirmation email, which is sent by the EPA not the City, within a few minutes after clicking the “Release Data” button in the Portfolio Manager Tool. The confirmation email may be delayed by your computer’s filtering for spam. If you do not receive your confirmation email within a few minutes after submitting your , call the Benchmarking Help Center at 311 or (212) 442-7901.  If there is no one available to answer your question, please leave a message with a call-back number and you will receive a call-back.

Question: I know I have to identify my building by its borough, block and lot number (BBL), but does it matter how I enter the number into the Portfolio Manager Tool?

Answer: Yes. In order to properly comply with the Benchmarking law, it is essential that you input the BBL correctly into the Portfolio Manager Tool as per the following:

  1. Go to the “Notes” field in on the General Facility Information page of Portfolio Manager Tool
  2. Enter the BBL as a 10 digit number, where the first digit represents the borough number, followed by a dash, followed by the 5 digit block number, followed by a dash and then followed by the 4 digit lot number
  3. If the block number is less than 5 digits or the lot number is less than 4 digits, you must fill in zeros before the actual number so that the full number is 5 or 4 digits accordingly

Example: For a building in Brooklyn (“3” out of 5) that has a block number of 845 and a lot number of 27, you would enter this as: 3-00845-0027. If you fail to properly enter your building’s BBL, this many result in the issuance of a violation for failure to comply with the Benchmarking law.

Question: I have Multiple Buildings on my tax lot that I am required to Benchmark.  How should I account for them in the Portfolio Manager Tool? 

Answer: If you are separately Benchmarking multiple buildings on a lot, enter the address for each building and the same Borough, Block and Lot (BBL) number for each building with the word “multiple” following the BBL. This information must be entered in the “Notes” field of Portfolio Manager. 

Example:  

Separate Benchmarking Report #1 - 1-23456-7890 Multiple: 123 4th Avenue               

Separate Benchmarking Report #2 - 1-23456-7890 Multiple: 456 4th Avenue               

Separate Benchmarking Report #3 - 1-23456-7890 Multiple: 789 4th Avenue

Question: Previously, I submitted a Benchmarking report containing benchmarking information for ten buildings in my account. Yesterday, I learned that there was additional information that I needed to submit for one of the buildings.  Can I make the change to that building’s information and submit a new report? 

Answer:  Yes, as long as your final report is submitted by the compliance date you may change data for any building for which you submitted an earlier report. Please note that prior to June 13, 2011, any new information entered into the Portfolio Manager Tool would override previously submitted information and the new report generated would only contain the latest information entered. Reports that are revised and resubmitted after June 13, 2011, will include all new information entered into the Portfolio Manager Tool as well as any other information that was previously submitted.
Reports Submitted Before June 13 Instructions

Reports Submitted After June 13 Instructions

Question: I have Multiple Buildings on my tax lot that are not separately metered and/or that share services.  I understand from the City’s Benchmarking Rule that I am required to Benchmark these buildings as one “big” building, using the gross energy consumption and total gross floor area for all the included buildings. How should I account for the individual buildings in this “big” building in the Portfolio Manager Tool?

Answer: If you are Benchmarking multiple buildings on a lot as one building with gross energy consumption and total gross floor area for all the buildings, then you must enter the 10-digit Borough, Block and Lot (BBL) number for the “big” building into the “Notes” field of the Portfolio Manager Tool followed by the word “multiple” and the individual address for each building on the lot.  

Example: NOTES: 1-23456-7890, Multiple, 123 4th Avenue, 456 4th Avenue, 789 4th Avenue

Question:  I completed my Benchmarking report for 2010.  As I begin preparing to complete my Benchmarking report for 2011, which must be submitted by May 1, 2012, is there anything different that I need to do this year? 

Answer:  Yes.  Portfolio Manager has been updated to include a field titled “Unique Building Identifier” (UBI).  This is a free-text field that you will find in General Facility Information, just below the field for “Notes” where you input your building’s 10-digit Borough Block and Lot (BBL) number.  This year, it is required that you input your building(s) seven-digit Building Identification Number (BIN) in this field.  Every building in New York City has a BIN and you can easily find it at the top of your building’s Property Profile Overview screen on the DOB’s Building Information System (BIS). In order for the City to credit the Benchmarking report for each of your buildings, it is essential that you enter both the 10-digit BBL number in the Notes field and all relevant 7-digit BIN numbers in the Unique Building Identifier field.  If your benchmarking report includes space and energy use for multiple buildings on one tax lot, you must include all relevant BIN numbers in the UBI field.  The failure to include both the BBL number in the Notes field and all relevant BIN numbers in the UBI field will result in your building(s) being considered non-complaint and may result in the issuance of a violation.

Enter your BIN numbers as follows, separating them with a semi-colon, but without a space: 1234567;2345678;

If you have any additional questions that are not answered in the above information or are still unclear about the Benchmarking law, please email the Department of Buildings at sustainability@buildings.nyc.gov.

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