Benchmarking of Commercial Buildings Implementation in California

Published on January 3, 2018 by Charles Orr to in Energy Benchmarking, California AB 802, Los Angeles EBEWE,

In California, 2018 could be labeled as the “Year of the Benchmark”.  In 2018, California implemented the CA AB 802 statute, Los Angeles began its Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency Ordinance (EBEWE) (December 1st, 2017 for properties over 100,000 square feet to be more exact), and Berkeley implemented its Building Energy Savings Ordinance (BESO) program.  And, the City of San Francisco expanded its Existing Commercial Building Energy Performance ordinance (ECBO) to include multi-family properties.

The goal of most of these new programs is to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings and multi-family housing.  Reducing energy consumption via energy efficiency is far more cost effective than new, lower cost energy alternatives.  In fact, the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t have to produce in the first place. 

Off course, energy efficiency measures reduce the state’s need for carbon-spewing power plants, and help California’s mission to address climate change by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.

Buildings, both commercial and residential, account for 41% of the energy consumed in California.  This is more than transportation (22%) or industrial (30%).  So, addressing energy efficiency in buildings can have a big impact. The best places to look for energy savings are Heating (22%), Cooling (15%), Lighting (11%) and Hot Water (9%).

It is somewhat unfortunate that the State of California has lagged behind the cities in addressing energy efficiency because the various municipal programs have different requirements for reporting.  AB 802 addresses buildings over 50,000 square feet, while the Los Angeles requirement applies to buildings equal to 20,000 square feet or more, and the Berkeley program applies to buildings as small as 5,000 square feet.  

Plus, the building-type exemptions differ.  For instance AB 802 exempts Federal buildings, condominiums and buildings that have 50% or more of the space used for manufacturing and industrial purposes or laboratories with a controlled environment.  Los Angeles exempts film studios, hotels, hospitals regulated by OSHPD and State and Federal buildings.  Berkeley exempts few building types. 

Other exemptions for vacancies, planned demolition, and occupancy permits differ somewhat by jurisdiction.  It can be difficult to know which building must report to the city but not the state or vice versa.

To help property managers easily identify which of their buildings must report to which jurisdictions Pegasus Energy Solutions has assembled two comparison tables for each City ordinance versus the AB 802 statute.  The first two of these tables are shown below for AB 802 versus the Los Angeles EBEWE.

California AB 802 vs. Los Angeles EBEWE

California AB 802Commercial>50,0006/1/2018Annual on June 1NoNo
Residential >17 utility accouints>50,0006/1/2019Annual on June 1NoNo
Los Angeles (EBEWE)Commercial & Residential >100,00012/1/2017Annual on June 1Yes$64.66
Municipal>7,50012/1/2017Annual on June 1Yes$64.66
Commercial & Residential >50,0006/1/2018Annual on June 1Yes$64.66
Commercial & Residential >50,0006/1/2019Annual on June 1Yes$64.66

*The Los Angeles EBEWE excludes one and two family homes

Comparison of Benchmark Reporting Requirements

Commercial buildingsYESYES
Multi-family buildingsYESYES
Buildings in which more than half of the gross floor area is used for manufacturing of industrial purposesNOYES
Buildings in which more than half of the gross floor area is used for scientific experiments requiring a controlled environmentNOYES
Condominium buildingsNOYES
Single-family homes and duplexesNONO
Buildings owned by the State of CaliforniaYESNO
Buildings owned by the Federal GovernmentNONO
Hospitals regulated by OSHPDYESNO
Residential hotels, sound stages, and other TV and film production facilitiesYESNO
Buildings benchmarked in compliance with an exempted local ordinanceNON/A
Include water usage in benchmarkNOYES
Include bulk delivered fuelsYESYES
Include on-site generated electricity by solar or wind powerYESYES


Assembly Bill AB 802

A building meeting any one of the following conditions is exempt from the reporting requirement:

a.  The building did not have a Certificate of Occupancy or temporary Certificate of Occupancy during the calendar year for which reporting to the Energy Commission is required.

b.  The building is scheduled for demolition one year or less from the reporting date.

c.  The building is covered by a local building Energy use benchmarking program listed on the Energy Commission website.

Los Angeles EBEWE

The owner of a building subject to the ordinance shall NOT be required to file a benchmark report of a reporting year if any of the following conditions apply:

a. The building did not have a Certificate of Occupancy or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy for the entire calendar year required to be benchmarked.

b.  The entire building was not occupied, due to renovation, for the entire calendar year required to be benchmarked.

c.  The demolition permit for the entire building has been issued and demolition work has commenced on or before the benchmarking report is due for that calendar year.

d.  The building did not receive energy or water services for the entire calendar year required to be benchmarked.

If you believe that your building does not fall within the scope of the ordinance, or if the building meets one of the above exemptions, contact LADBS at 213-482-0476 or email for a determination.