General Questions

When does this ordinance affect me?

City-owned buildings that are 10,000 square feet or greater and commercial buildings that are 50,000 square feet or greater in gross square footage will need to report energy consumption by November 15th, 2016. The City has developed educational forms to simplify this process for building owners, and there are several training resources available.

How will it affect my building operations?

The proposal will not require any building owners to change the way they operate their portfolios of buildings. It will bring opportunities for efficiency improvements to the attention of the building owner and managers. For those building owners and managers that choose to take advantage of these opportunities, they can expect to see an improvement in building energy performance that will reduce energy costs to the building owner and tenants. A number of incentives exist to help individuals take advantage of these opportunities. Contact your local electric, natural and, and/or water utility for more information about incentive programs.

How will my portfolio be affected?

Building owners will be able to take advantage of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to quickly identify and track parts of portfolios that are struggling with energy performance, to compare building performance from year-to-year, and to benchmark buildings against the rest of the nation, controlling for operations and weather. Many may also discover that parts of portfolios are eligible for recognition and certifications, like the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification for buildings. The impact on the portfolio will ultimately be determined by the opportunities for increased energy efficiency that each building owner chooses to pursue.

How much time will it take to benchmark a building?

The time varies based on an individual’s familiarity with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and having energy and water data on hand. There are two main methods of benchmarking using the software: manual or automatic upload. Click here for more information on these processes, particularly sections 3a and 3b.

What kind of effort is required to send a benchmarking submission?

Reporting a benchmarking submission is a simple process. Owners will click this link provided by the City, then click “Submit Data”, and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager will auto-populate the submission and send the subset of non-financial data required for benchmarking compliance to the City. Note: an Atlanta Building ID is needed to comply – click here to locate it.

Is there a penalty for non-compliance?

If ordinance requirements are not met, the City will issue a written warning for the first violation. If updated information is not provided within 30 days of the issuance of the initial warning, a fine of $1,000 will be imposed. Each year of non-compliance will be considered as a separate violation.

Special Issues

Are Multifamily properties covered by this ordinance?

Multifamily properties are covered by the ordinance, but Georgia Power is not yet providing data aggregation services to building owners. If a multifamily property does not use a master meter to track electricity consumption, it qualifies for a benchmarking exemption; please check the ABID Lookup system to see that a building’s “Needs to Comply” status is “Exempt until data aggregation”. For any concerns, contact the Mayor’s Office of Resilience at moneil@atlantaga.gov to make sure a building status is appropriately recorded.

Which property uses should I select to represent my building?

Portfolio Manager has approximately 80 different property use categories. You should accurately represent all uses that are found within your building. A list of definitions is available at: http://www.energystar.gov/buildings/sites/default/uploads/tools/PropertyUseDetailsandDefinition.pdf

How is parking reported? How do I report standalone parking garages?

When parking is part of a building, it does not count towards gross floor area, since Portfolio Manager focuses on the energy use of the actual building interior. For example, if you have a building with 100,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of parking, you should enter a gross floor area of 100,000 square feet into Portfolio Manager. You may be prompted to enter information on parking area, but it will not count towards your gross floor area. We recommend reading the ENERGY STAR guidance here. (If you are submetering your parking areas and able to exclude their energy use, you may do so in your reporting.)

Standalone parking garages: If you are reporting a standalone parking garage, EPA recommends that you select the “Other” building type when creating the building. Do not check off “My building’s energy use includes parking areas.” Instead, just enter the total area of the garage (i.e., including parking) as the area of the building. This will prevent any error messages from coming up as you continue.

What if I don’t use the data available from my utility?

If whole building data is available from a utility, you must use either the utility data or use actual, whole building data from your own source (such as data obtained from all tenants or from a building management system). Use of defaults or extrapolation is not permitted. If you choose to use whole building data from your source, i.e. foregoing utility-provided data, the reason and an explanation of the difference must be noted in the “Property Notes” section.

How do I determine the gross floor area for a building or for a property use within the building?

Many building owners will have information on gross floor area from leasing, sale, or other transactional documents. Other buildings will have plans that can provide dimensions for the building and/or individual property uses. In conjunction, the gross floor area of common spaces and commercial condos can be estimated from building plans or measured; the City may also offer additional guidance, as needed, on measuring or estimating floor space. The calculation of gross floor area is a one-time step, necessary only in the first year of reporting. Any estimation of floor area must be noted in “Property Notes.”

What if my building is not fully occupied?

Report the percentage of the building that is occupied when you first create the building within Portfolio Manager. For office buildings with 10% or higher vacancy, see EPA’s guidance here. You’ll need to create an office use representing the vacant space, with zero operating hours, computers, and workers.

What if my whole building is rented by a single tenant?

If your building has a single tenant under a triple net lease who has assumed management of the entire building, the tenant has the obligations of the owner under the ordinance.

Are there any energy uses that are not part of my building’s energy use?

Cell phone towers, radio masts, and any external billboards used for leased advertising space are not part of building energy use, and may be excluded if submetered. If you are not using whole building data, and are submetering your parking areas, you may exclude parking area energy use since parking doesn’t count towards the gross floor area of the building.

Are there any water uses that are not part of my building’s water use?

Only fire pipe/emergency water usage may be excluded from your building’s water consumption.

What if I have multiple buildings on one lot, or multiple buildings that share meters?

Some parcels in Atlanta have multiple buildings on them; other owners may have buildings in close proximity that share meters or systems. The metering set up will help you determine how to report these buildings:

All the energy sources and water are separately metered by building. Each building needs to be reported as a separate building.

One or more energy sources or water is not separately metered by building. For each type of energy or water use where this is the case, you need to apportion by square footage, as long as:

  • The uses of the buildings are generally similar
  • The vacancy rates of the buildings are generally similar

If these conditions are met, then apportion any shared usage by the square footage of the buildings, and mark the data as an “Estimation” when you enter the values into Portfolio Manager.

Apportioning shared energy or water use is not permitted. If the buildings don’t meet the criteria for apportionment, report them in Portfolio Manager as a multi-building property. Or, if they’re on one lot and have similar uses, report them as a single building in Portfolio Manager. The Mayor’s Office of Resilience can help you make that determination. Contact them at moneil@atlantaga.gov. When multiple buildings are on one parcel, each one can be reported using the same Atlanta Building ID with _a, _b (eg: 100000_a, 100000_b); this will not affect reporting.

What if there is split ownership of the building?

The primary owner listed in the records of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Resilience is responsible for compliance with all aspects of the ordinance.

What is Source EUI? What is an ENERGY STAR score? How are they calculated?

Energy use intensity (EUI) is the building’s energy use per square foot. Portfolio Manager typically shows a building’s Source EUI, which is a complete assessment of the fuel required for operating the building, accounting for any losses during the conversion of fuel to electricity and electric transmission and distribution. When you see Weather Normalized Source EUI, this is an estimate of what the Source EUI would have been in a year with “normal” weather conditions. For example, in a very hot year, Portfolio Manager might estimate your Weather Normalized Source EUI to be lower than your actual Source EUI.

ENERGY STAR score, or rating, is a percentile score, on a scale of 1-100, comparing your building’s energy performance with that of similar buildings in the U.S. The score normalizes for climate, weather, building size, number of employees, and other operational factors. A score close to 100 indicates a very high-performing building.

What if my building doesn’t receive an Energy Star score?

Only some building types will receive an ENERGY STAR score, due to limitations in the national comparative dataset. Thus, many buildings will submit their energy reports to the City without an ENERGY STAR score.

How are data centers reported in Portfolio Manager?

Portfolio Manager defines a data center as a space “specifically designed and equipped to meet the needs of high density computing equipment such as server racks.” You can add a data center as a property use type. To receive an ENERGY STAR score for a data center, energy use must be measured at the output of the uninterruptible power supply. Data center energy use is reported as separate value in your energy and water report, so the data center does not affect your building’s energy use intensity.

Can I use data from an energy or building management system?

Yes, if the system provides accurate whole-building data. Many such EMS or BMS can upload energy and water data directly into Portfolio Manager. As discussed in Step 7, you must note in “Property Notes” if you do not use utility-provided data, and an explanation of any difference.

What if I generate electricity through on-site generation like solar panels?

You can enter this into Portfolio Manager when setting up your meters. Obtain data from your installer on the energy used, any energy exported out to the grid, and about any renewable energy certificates generated. If you report your renewable energy generation and use accurately, it will be reflected in your building’s greenhouse gas emissions.

What if the building is under construction or newly built?

A newly constructed building, if it is covered by this ordinance, is required to report its energy use for the first full calendar year after receiving a Certificate of Occupancy.

What if I purchased the building in the past year?

Buildings that have transferred ownership are not exempt from reporting requirements. The reporting regulations require the seller to transfer to the new owner any information that has been collected for completing the next energy and water report.

Additional Resources

Do you have additional questions that were not answered by this guide? For general inquiries, please refer to atlantabuildingefficiency.com. For technical questions about Portfolio Manager, please consult the Portfolio Manager Frequent Questions page. Lastly, for questions related to the ordinance and its requirements, please send an email to moneil@atlantaga.gov. The Portfolio Manager Knowledge Base continues to updated, expanded, and refined as additional questions arise and software issues become apparent.

Looking for a 3rd party provider to input data, manage your energy portfolio, and send your benchmarking submission for compliance?
The EPA provides a (partial) listing of service providers here.