Benchmarking and Energy Efficiency Grading
Updated: Feb 21
The NYC Benchmarking Law, Local Law 84 of 2009 as amended by Local Law 133 of 2016, requires owners of buildings that meet the criteria outlined in the law to annually measure their energy and water consumption through a process called benchmarking. The law standardizes this process by requiring building owners to utilize the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) online benchmarking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager®, to enter and submit the usage data to the City by May 1st of every year. This data increases transparency regarding properties’ annual energy and water usage – the first step for building owners and tenants in making their buildings operate more efficiently.
Local Law 133 of 2016 amended the Administrative Code of the City of New York by expanding the list of buildings required to benchmark for energy and water efficiency. In addition, as of October 31, 2016, the term ‘covered building’ shall not include real property, not more than three stories, consisting of a series of attached, detached or semi-detached dwellings, for which ownership and the responsibility for maintenance of the HVAC systems and hot water heating systems is held by each individual dwelling unit owner, and with no HVAC system or hot water heating system in the series serving more than two dwelling units (also known as ‘garden style’ apartments).
Local Law 33 of 2018 amended the Administrative Code of the City of New York in relation to energy efficiency scores and grades for buildings required to benchmark their energy and water consumption. Energy efficiency scores and grades for these buildings shall be obtained, assigned and disclosed in accordance with the new section §28-309.12 annually, based on benchmarking reporting consistent with Federal energy efficiency standards.
An energy efficiency score is the Energy Star Rating that a building earns using the United States Environmental Protection Agency online benchmarking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager, to compare building energy performance to similar buildings in similar climates. As per Local Law 95 of 2019 grades based on Energy Star energy efficiency scores will be assigned as follows:
A – score is equal to or greater than 85;
B – score is equal to or greater than 70 but less than 85;
C – score is equal to or greater than 55 but less than 70;
D – score is less than 55;
F – for buildings that didn’t submit required benchmarking information;
N – for buildings exempted from benchmarking or not covered by the Energy Star program.
The energy label will include both a letter grade and the energy efficiency score for the building. Reference the Local Law 33 as amended by LL95 of 2019 Steps to Compliance for additional energy label information.
Local Law 33 of 2018 Data Disclosure
Access the 2020 LL33 Data Disclosure for CY2019 reporting to view a report of each building for which an energy efficiency grade has been generated.
NOTE: The report does not include those buildings which generated a grade of ‘N.’
Building owners may assign a representative to work in accordance with the operating staff to benchmark the energy and water use of a building. Set up an account in the EPA’s online tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM). Enter building characteristics and uses. Please note the following update.
Buildings with a Single/Primary Property Use For buildings with a single/primary property use, other or any variation of other will no longer be acceptable as a valid primary property type. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you experience difficulty matching the building use to one of the property types listed in Portfolio Manager. All data entry related to property usage is subject to audit by the Department.
Buildings with Separate Property Uses For buildings with separate property uses, follow the guidelines of the Portfolio Manager tool for reporting of mixed-use buildings. Refer to the Property Uses section in the ENERGY STAR Buildings FAQ for detailed instructions.
Collect whole building energy and water data from the utilities (this data is automatically uploaded to the ESPM account by most utilities). Once the whole building energy and water data is uploaded, the owner needs to retrieve a Reporting Template found at the Compliance Instructions page and submit a benchmarking report. This Reporting Template is unique and specifically created through ESPM for each compliance year.
To find out if you are required to benchmark, please review your property tax bills from the Department of Finance (DOF) for a section called One City Built to Last - Compliance Notification. You may also review the Covered Buildings List published annually at the Compliance Instructions page for your borough, block and lot (BBL) number.
To start the benchmarking process please go to the Compliance Instructions page.
The Building Energy Efficiency Rating label will be made available in the covered buildings’ DOB NOW Public Portal property profiles upon October 1 of every year. Print and display the label in a conspicuous location near each public entrance within 30 days after October 1 of every year. For more details, please reference the Local Law 33 as amended by LL95 of 2019 Steps to Compliance, LL33 - Frequently Asked Questions, and go to the Compliance Instructions.
If you believe your property is erroneously listed on the Covered Buildings List, contact DOF at email@example.com to dispute any of the following: square footage of the building, number of buildings on a tax lot, ownership, address or mailing information. Please include the following in the email:
borough, block, and lot number of the building
contact information: name, email address or/and telephone number
reason for dispute.
Additionally, a Request To Update (RTU) property’s Gross Square Footage form may be submitted via the NYC Department of Finance online portal for the following reasons:
If a building owner believes the property is erroneously listed on the LL84/LL133 (Benchmarking) or the Local Law 87 (Energy Audits and Retro-commissioning) Covered Buildings List (CBL); or
If there is an issue with the data on the CBL for the property, resulting in a discrepancy with the submission.
To access the online form, please follow the steps below:
Log into the portal using your NYC.ID account credentials (create a new account, if necessary).
Select the RTU form that corresponds with the appropriate tax class (2 or 4) for your property. The tax class can be found under the Property Info section for the BBL (Borough, Block and Lot) number at www.nyc.gov/nycproperty.
Input your borough, block, and lot numbers to verify your property and update the RTU form. Gross Square Footage is Line 5 on the form and you should input what you believe is most accurate for your property.
It is encouraged, but not mandatory, to have an architect’s letter submitted with the completed RTU to provide an official document for the DOF’s assessor to work with.
When you file an RTU online, you will receive a confirmation receipt for your records.
Note: Determinations regarding submitted RTUs are made exclusively by the Department of Finance.
The DOB Rule provides details on Benchmarking compliance (LL84/2009, LL133/2016). §103-06 Amendment of Annual Reporting Requirements for Energy and Water Use reflects information pertaining to Local Law 33 of 2018 (LL33/2018, LL95/2019) and has an effective date of February 20, 2020.
Violations for Non-compliance
COVID-19 Response: Please review the Benchmarking Guidance for May 1, 2020 Deadline and Issuance and Payment of Department of Buildings Violations for Non-Compliance.
The annual benchmarking data is required to be submitted to the City by May 1st of every year. Once a satisfactory report is submitted by the May 1st deadline, there is no additional responsibility until the following year. If you do not submit a report by May 1, you may aim for the next quarterly deadline of August 1. Subsequent deadlines are November 1 and February 1 of the following year.
The Department may issue a Notice of Violation to any property on the Covered Buildings List that has not provided a fully compliant benchmarking report by the May 1 deadline. Failure to submit the report by May 1 will result in a penalty of $500.00. Continued failure to report usage by the next quarterly deadline may result in additional violations penalties of $500 per violation, up to $2000 per year.
The Department may also issue a Notice of Violation to any property on the Covered Buildings List that failed to comply with the Local Law 33 of 2018. Failure to timely display the Building Energy Efficiency Rating label will result in a fine of $1,250.
Challenging Benchmarking Violations
If you believe a violation was issued in error, you may submit a Benchmarking Violation Challenge Form. This form must be sent to the Department within 30 days of the violation postmark. Email the form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow up on a challenge, please call the (212) 393-2574 or email email@example.com.
Documentation substantiating a challenge must accompany the challenge form. A challenge may include, but is not necessarily limited to, one of the following:
Proof from the Department of Finance that the building in question is not a covered building as defined in NYC Administrative Code §28-309.2;
Proof of timely benchmarking as indicated by a confirmation email from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager that includes a date-stamped copy of data released to the city;
Proof that the building was demolished, or was a new building with a NB permit and has not yet obtained a first TCO;
Certification to the Department by a registered design professional (use this Form) where real property is not more than three stories, consisting of a series of attached, detached or semi-detached dwellings, for which ownership and the responsibility for maintenance of the HVAC systems and hot water heating systems is held by each individual dwelling unit owner, and with no HVAC system or hot water heating system in the series serving more than two dwelling units;
Proof of each factor listed in the ‘Exception’ provision of section 28- 309.4.3 of the Administrative Code, including proof of a request for benchmarking assistance, as defined in section 28-309.11 of the Administrative Code. Such proof shall consist of a completed copy of the submitted Request for Benchmarking Assistance form; or
Documentation to be submitted in the case where an Owner is a subsequent bona fide purchaser for the year in question:
Copy of the deed
Notarized affidavit stating that there is no relationship between the previous Owner and the subsequent bonafide purchaser. If the subsequent bonafide purchaser is an entity, the affidavit must be on the entity’s letterhead and signed by the Owner or an officer of the entity. The affidavit must include:
The name of the subsequent bonafide purchaser
The location of the property
A statement that the subsequent bonafide purchaser did not receive the property as a gift
A statement that the subsequent bonafide purchaser had no interest or relationship with the prior owner at the time of purchase; and
A statement that the subsequent bonafide purchaser is not acting in any way for the benefit of the prior Owner.
Resolving Benchmarking Violations
Pay the penalty for failure to benchmark energy and water use as per Title 1 of the Rules of the City of New York §103-06 (l). The fee is $500 per benchmarking violation.
To pay a benchmarking violation penalty, log into eFiling at www.nyc.gov/dobefiling and select Express Cashier Payments, Other Fees and Benchmarking Violation Fees. Payment can be made by eCheck or credit card, which includes a 2% service charge. If you need to create an eFiling account, visit www.nyc.gov/dobnowtips.
In-person OR mail-in payments are no longer accepted.
The status of a violation can be found online by using the Department’s Building Information System at any time. To follow up by email, please send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org with the building’s BBL, BIN, address and violation number.
Resolving / Challenging EGRADE Violations
To resolve an EGRADE violation, pay the penalty for failure to timely display the energy efficiency score and energy efficiency grade as per Title 1 of the Rules of the City of New York §103-06 (l). The fee is $1,250 per EGRADE violation.
Per Title 1 of the Rules of the City of New York §103-06 (m), you may challenge the EGRADE violation. The challenge request may include, but is not necessarily limited to, one of the following:
For requests related to the label printing issues, provide correspondence related to the issue, screenshot of outage, and email sent to the Department of Buildings within 30 days of Oct 31st to notify the Department of the issue;
For properties exempt from benchmarking requirements, submit an email from the NYC Department of Finance or DOB with the confirmation of exemption;
If the label was temporarily removed, provide photographic proof of display and the reason for removal;
If the label was posted (Violation incorrect), provide photographic proof of the display and description of the entrance(s) location.
To pay a penalty, or to challenge an EGRADE violation, follow the instructions included in the DOB NOW: Safety - Local Law 33 of 2018.
NYC Sustainability Help Center
The NYC Sustainability Help Center is the one-stop-shop for information, assistance, and answers to your questions about the benchmarking process. Trained staff will walk you through benchmarking steps, directly provide or point you to training and informational resources, and help you resolve problems so that you can meet the May 1 deadline with time to spare. You can send your questions to Help@NYCsustainability.org, or call (212) 566-5584.
Subscribe to the NYC Sustainability Help Center’s SHC Newsletter. The newsletter contains news related to the climate mobilization act, training opportunities for building owners and managers, upcoming events, reminders, and advisories.
To be added to the email list, please send the request to Help@NYCsustainability.org. To start receiving the SHC Newsletter in your inbox, please click the SHC News signup link.