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AB 802 Frequently Asked Questions

For Owners of Commercial and Multi-Unit Residential Buildings in California

Assembly Bill (AB) 802, is a new energy benchmarking and public disclosure program in California for “disclosable” nonresidential and multifamily buildings.

  • Commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet.
  • Residential buildings over 50,000 gross square feet and having 17 or more utility accounts.

AB 802 went into effect on January 1, 2016.  It repealed the Nonresidential Building Energy Use Disclosure Program implemented by the California Energy Commission (CEC) pursuant to Assembly Bill 1103. 

Currently, the Energy Benchmark reporting requirement for "disclosable buildings" begins:

June 1, 2018 and annually thereafter for buildings with no residential utility accounts (commercial buildings).

June 1, 2019 and annually thereafter for residential buildings with 17 or more utility accounts.

Building owners will need to submit their report to the California Energy Commission on or before June 1 of each year.

California’s SB-350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, requires the state to double statewide energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas end uses by 2030.  

AB 802 supports this mission by authorizing the California Energy Commission to create a building energy-use benchmarking and disclosure program.  In addition, AB 802 expands the CEC’s data collection authority to improve the development and evaluation of policy and programs, and the state’s energy infrastructure planning efforts. 

The specific benefit anticipated from AB 802 is improved building energy efficiency statewide, resulting in less demand for energy, thus reducing the environmental impact of operating buildings, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The energy benchmark information enables building owners to make informed decisions regarding whether and how to make building improvements.  Plus, public disclosure of building‐level performance information provides an incentive for building owners to improve their buildings, and provides a valuable tool to help prospective building owners and tenants understand more fully a building they are considering purchasing or renting. 

The California Energy Commission (CEC) staff estimates the average cost incurred by the owners of disclosable buildings (those buildings for which reporting to the Energy Commission is required under the proposed regulations) to perform the required data request, benchmarking, and reporting, as follows:

These are average costs.  The cost for an owner-occupied commercial building should be less than a building with one or two tenants (where individual tenant authorization is required to obtain energy-use data).  On the other hand, the cost for a commercial building with 3 or more tenants (where individual tenant authorization is not required) may be less than that for a building with one or two tenants.  However, changes in tenants, tenant size (e.g. number of employees) and other tenant’s characteristics will add to the complexity.

The cost to comply for residential buildings should be somewhat constant for all sizes, since only buildings with 17 or more utility account are required to comply.  

For both types of buildings, tracking the number and duration of vacancies will add to the complexity of reporting and therefore the cost.

An Energy Benchmark compares the energy-use "intensity" (EUI) of a building (measured in energy used per square foot) against similar-use buildings (retail, warehouse, office, etc.), adjusted for intensity-of-use (hours of operation, number of employees, etc.)  and weather zone. 

The EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager allows you to compare your building’s energy performance to other similar-use buildings in the national database. This may provide your building with a percentile ranking.  For example, a score of 75 means that your building is more energy efficient that 74% of the buildings in the national database. 

Energy benchmarking also allows you to track the energy performance of your building over time.

The required tool for preparing the report is the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager system. (The CEC could change the required tool at some point in the future.)  The EPA Portfolio Manager online tool is available at no charge.  Portfolio Manager allows you to enter the building and ownership information as well as the energy-use data.  Instead of manually entering the monthly energy-use information for each meter for 12 months, your utility data may be downloaded into Portfolio Manager from your utility company. Utilities that do not have this capability may provide the data in a spreadsheet or another format.  

The utility will aggregate the energy-use data (called "whole building" data) for certain multi-tenant buildings to avoid disclosing individual tenant’s use.  However, if there is an insufficient number of tenants in the building, tenant authorization is required.

Before AB 802, utilities were required to deliver historical usage data of individual accounts which required individual tenant/utility customers to authorized the release of their data.  Now, utilities will deliver aggregated building-level usage data.  

Now, aggregated ("whole building") energy-use data can be provided by the utility company without obtaining tenant authorization – if the number of utility accounts in the building meet the required minimum.  To receive the aggregated data, the building owner must obtain a building number from the utility and then provide the utility with the meter numbers.  Most often, this exchange of information will take place in Portfolio Manager.  However, the utility may require a different format such as a spreadsheet. 

Cases in which tenant authorization will be required.

  • The building has fewer than 3 commercial utility accounts
  • The building has fewer than 5 residential utility accounts
  • The building has fewer than a combination of 5 residential and commercial utility accounts
  • The building owner must get permission from the account holder for the utility to release the energy use data when the number of utility accounts is below the minimum threshold. 

The reporting is to begin in June 1, 2018 for commercial buildings and June 1, 2019 for multi-family buildings.  The reports are to be submitted annually thereafter.

Initially the data submitted to the CEC will not be publicly disclosed.  However, commercial building data will be publicly disclosed starting September 1, 2019 and multi-family building data being publicly disclosed starting on September 1, 2020.

Owners with "disclosable" buildings in cities or counties that have benchmark reporting requirements will not have separate reporting requirements for the State.  The intent is that building owners in these jurisdictions need report only to the local jurisdiction, and that data collection mechanisms will be streamlined and integrated between state and local systems. 

Basic building ownership information such as name of the owner, address and contact information.

Building information such as:

  • Gross Square Feet - for definition of gross square feet for gross floor area visit: https://portfoliomanager.energ...
  • Use-type (office, warehouse, retail, etc.)
  • Weekly hours of operation
  • Number of employees
  • Percent heated/cooled
  • Equipment on site (for certain building types) such as:
  • Number of cash registers
  • Number of refrigeration units (walk-in, open/closed displays, cooking equipment)

If use-type varies by tenant, then the above building information should be broken out by tenant. Or, if items 3, 4 or 5 vary by tenant by more than ten percent, then the above information needs to be itemized by tenant.
Energy use per month for 12 months for each utility meter.  (Downloadable from the public utility into the EPA ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager or provided by spreadsheet or another format.)  Commercial buildings with fewer than three tenants must have tenant authorization to download the utility usage data.

Energy use from all energy meters serving the building must be included.  This includes electricity, gas and steam consumption from the utility as well as fuel delivered and energy generated on-site from wind and solar sources.

Anyone can open an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account and use this software to prepare the report.  There is no charge to use the system.  However, Portfolio Manager has a relatively steep learning curve. Some utilities offer a half-day training class on Portfolio Manager.  The EPA offers online Portfolio Manager training session, visit: https://www.energystar.gov/bui...

Some building owners/managers may have trained staff members who can prepare the reports.  Others may choose to use the services of an ENERGY STAR partner who offers energy benchmarking services.

About 40% of total U.S. energy consumption was consumed in residential and commercial buildings.  California’s usage pattern is no exception.  The California legislature’s goal is to minimize the energy used by buildings.  

AB802 imposes certain requirements on the Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission to assess and forecast all aspect of energy industry needs and to use these assessments and forecasts to develop and valuate energy policies that "conserve resources, protect the environment, ensure energy reliability, enhance the state’s economy and protect public health and safety."

To comply with the above, the California Energy Commission has created an energy benchmarking and disclosure program for buildings of 50,000 square feet or more.

To improve the building’s score, the owner needs to improve the energy efficiency of the building.  This means lowering energy consumption, not adding locally generated energy from wind or solar. Plus, it is more cost effective to reduce consumption than to add locally generated energy.

There are many ways to reduce energy consumption.  To thoroughly evaluate all options an energy audit of your building is recommended.  However, there some simple steps that can be taken without conducting an energy audit. For energy saving suggestions visit: www.pegasusenegysolutions.com/...

This remains to be determined.  Some buyers may prefer to purchase a building that is already operating at peak energy efficiency.  Others may prefer to purchase a building "as is", at a lower cost, and make energy efficiency improvements to reduce operating costs and increase the value of the building.  (Given the same "Cap" rate.)  With a cap rate of 5, each $1 reduction in operating costs increases the value of the building by $20!

Besides complying with the ordinance, conducting an energy benchmarks measures the performance of your building and lets you know how efficient or inefficient it may be.

On average, a U.S. office building spends nearly 29 percent of its operating expenses on utilities, and most of this expenditure goes toward electricity and natural gas.  For larger buildings, this can be a substantial sum money.  Energy efficiency improvements can sometimes reduce these operating costs substantially.  

Some energy reduction can occur with little or no cost to you.  Others often have a very short payback (some in less than a year).  And, there may be rebates from your utility for certain energy-saving investments.  A simple energy audit can reveal the opportunities available.

The adage, "You can’t manage what you don’t measure." applies. Measure and track the energy efficiency of your building so that you can take appropriate action if energy costs are above average or are trending upward for no apparent reason.

Yes.  The proposed regulations require owners of disclosable buildings, including those owned by local government entities, to benchmark and disclose their buildings annually. 
This includes local schools and school district facilities.

The proposed regulation provides for the Energy Commission to impose a civil penalty for violation of the regulations by a building owner.  There may be penalties that apply to owners of "disclosable" buildings who knowingly submit reports with incorrect or incomplete data.

The CEC will notify the offending party of the violation and provide 30-days to correct the violation. 

Yes, for all commercial buildings and yes for residential buildings with five or more utility accounts.  (These are referred to as "covered" buildings in the ordinance – that is, buildings for which the utilities must make available the energy-use data.)  The online Portfolio Manager system is available to all at no charge.  

Benchmarking your energy use and comparing it to similar buildings or measuring your own energy use over time has value.  It is rare that the procedures listed in (17) above, do not result in significant energy savings.  A 20% savings is not uncommon.  

Benchmarking allows you to track the results of your efforts over time.  With an average market "cap rate" of 5, each $1 savings in energy cost increases the value of your building by $20.  That makes energy savings highly valuable – a savings in operating costs and an increased valuation of your building.

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

  • 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.
  • The building is scheduled to be demolished one year or less from the reporting date.
  • The building is covered by a local building energy-use benchmarking program listed on the Energy Commission website.

There is an established procedure in the event this happens.

For buildings with fewer than three tenants’ Utility Accounts, where a tenant has not granted permission, the building owner or owner’s agent shall:

  • Attest that permission was not received from all utilities customers.
  • Share the building information (not energy use data) with the Energy Commission’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account.

Yes. For a building with fewer than three utility accounts, one of which belongs to the Building Owner where the tenant has consented to the provision of data to facilitate disclosure, the building owner must do one of the following:

  • Include building owner’s own energy-use data
  • File a request for determination by the Energy Commission Executive Director that the disclosure of the building owner’s energy use data would result in release of proprietary information which can be characterized as a trade secret.
  • Share the building information (not energy use data) with the Energy Commission’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager account.

For disclosable buildings, the Energy Commission may make available on a public web site the following information and derivatives thereof:

  • Building Identification Number (provided by the utility)
  • Building address
  • County
  • Year built
  • Gross Floor Area
  • Latitude and longitude
  • Property name, if any
  • Primary property type as calculated by the EPA
  • Primary property type, self-selected
  • Property floor area (buildings and parking)
  • Open comments field for owners/managers to provide information
  • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager property ID
  • Percentage of space occupied (occupancy level)
  • Number of occupants
  • Number of buildings (if served by one common energy meter without sub metering)
  • ENERGY STAR score, for eligible buildings
  • Hours operated per week
  • Monthly and/or annual site and/or source energy used by energy type
  • Monthly and/or annual weather-normalized site and/or source Energy Use Intensity
  • Total greenhouse gas emissions.

For additional information visit the California Energy Commission site.

TN #222916, dated 3/7/2018 CEC Docket and select the pdf:


California Benchmarking Regulations Final 2018-03-01

A building’s ENERGY STAR score is a metric on a 1-100 scale that demonstrates how efficient a building is compared to similar buildings. A score of 50 indicates average energy performance. Buildings with a score of 75 or better are in the top 25% of performers and can apply for the ENERGY STAR certification. Getting an ENERGY STAR certification or award gives the building owner recognition for its energy and water efficiency, providing positive publicity and a competitive edge in the marketplace.

If the sum of the buildings sharing a common meter exceed 50,000 square feet, then AB 802 applies.

If the buildings have separate meters, with no one building (or group of buildings) exceeding 50,000 square feet, then AB 802 does not apply.