Know Your Score: Building Energy Scoring

Fort Collins Utilities is exploring options for a potential building energy scoring and benchmarking program that could impact local businesses. Cities across the nation have implemented similar programs in recent years.

Energy scoring and benchmarking can be beneficial tools in helping owners, property managers and tenants:

  • understand their building’s energy use
  • establish a baseline for tracking and identifying opportunities to reduce energy-related costs
  • improve occupancy and retention rates

View the BES Council Agenda Item Summary and work session video to learn more - starts at 01:07:08. City staff are working to determine the next steps to launch the Building Energy Scoring initiative in 2019 with City Council based on working group recommendations. Check this page periodically for updates.


Fort Collins Utilities is exploring options for a potential building energy scoring and benchmarking program that could impact local businesses. Cities across the nation have implemented similar programs in recent years.

Energy scoring and benchmarking can be beneficial tools in helping owners, property managers and tenants:

  • understand their building’s energy use
  • establish a baseline for tracking and identifying opportunities to reduce energy-related costs
  • improve occupancy and retention rates

View the BES Council Agenda Item Summary and work session video to learn more - starts at 01:07:08. City staff are working to determine the next steps to launch the Building Energy Scoring initiative in 2019 with City Council based on working group recommendations. Check this page periodically for updates.


Post a question about scoring and benchmarking!

Q&A

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  • Many times a building's energy use is related to the level of throughput or how many customers they are serving. Similarly a residence's energy and water use correlates closely with how many occupants are in the house. How will Fort Collins Utilities account for these factors. For instance, ENERGY STAR use square feet for normalization. This works well for office spaces but for something like hospitals it doesn't correlate very well compared to the buildings use. A hospital that isn't seeing many patients might appear to be using less energy but in reality the true efficiency of the building is quite low. Similarly a car repair shop that isn't very busy might look good compared to one that is busy and using their space to its maximum efficiency.

    Jdddrigot asked 5 months ago

    The Building Energy Scoring (community) Working Group recommends using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager as a tool  to benchmark and obtain a score for commercial buildings including hospitals.

    To account for a property’s operating characteristics, Portfolio Manager uses “property use type” data to make an apples to apples comparison for a particular building type using the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). CBECS is the only national-level source of data on the characteristics and energy use of commercial buildings. For most property types a building’s peer group for comparison consists of those buildings in the CBECS survey that are similar to Fort Collins’ buildings. For a select few property types, such as hospitals and senior care communities, industry associations took the lead and conducted nationally representative surveys to gather the information necessary to create a robust data sample for comparisons.

    Find out if your building type is eligible for an ENERGY STAR score.  

    Based on the information entered into Portfolio Manager, such as building size, location, number of occupants, etc., an estimate is created that shows how much energy the building would use if it were the best performing, the worst performing, and every level in between. Actual energy data entered is then compared to the estimate to determine where the building ranks relative to similar buildings. All of the calculations are based on source energy and are adjusted for the impact of weather variations, as well as changes in key property use details.

    Look up the property use type data required to compare your property’s energy use to the national median (or midpoint) energy use of similar properties here.


  • If people do not care about the cost of Utilities at the time of sale or lease signing, what is the community problem the BES initiative is trying to solve?

    8 months ago

    An organization or an individual may not be asking about Utility bills during a real estate transaction, but they are calling the Utility during the time that they occupy the space regarding high bills. On average, Fort Collins Utilities receives 4-5 high bill complaint calls each month in addition to 4-5 calls for estimated utility costs for new home buyers. The BES initiative supports upfront information to reduce the number of high bill complaints.

    Additionally, there is an emerging conversation through the National Board Of Realtors around total cost of ownership, particularly in the sustainability space. This means that the purchase price of a property is not always an accurate estimate of the monthly expenses a homeowner would incur through ownership. Aside from PITI and mortgage, this concept also considers things like utilities, home performance and maintenance costs, transportation or transit, and other expenses. The true lifestyle cost engine is one resource that is available for real estate professional and their clients - https://www.tlcengine.com/


  • If Fort Collins adopts a transparency policy requiring a building owner to report ENERGY STAR scores to the public is there a market willing to pay a premium for buildings that score higher than others?

    8 months ago

    Until recently the only information on energy efficiency premiums for building rents and occupancy (across national markets) was based on anecdotal information, which likely explains why local investors across Fort Collins claim there is not a market willing to pay a premium for energy efficient buildings. While some may argue that there is a market for premium space (Class A commercial) but Fort Collins does not have the inventory to meet the need. 

    Local brokers acknowledge a lack of inventory of high-end office space in Fort Collins and the limited demand to support existing vacancy rates. Some tenants demand energy efficiency and sustainability to support their company’s image and are willing to pay the increase in rent for the marketing advantage. For the most part, tenants in Fort Collins want a positive image at an affordable rate and there is plenty of competing buildings for the limited tenant activity the Fort Collins market has seen in the last few years. 

    There is growing evidence in Denver’s Market as highlighted in a recent op-ed in the Colorado Real Estate Journal that buildings that invest in energy efficiency upgrades and report their energy performance have upgraded from Class B to Class A space. Fort Collins does not have enough information at this time to show this type of market transformation.


  • What are City-owned buildings doing for benchmarking?

    11 months ago

    Fort Collins municipal buildings are leading by example with 40 buildings currently tracking their energy use through the “Know Your Number” initiative. The Know Your Energy Number Challenge is a friendly competition among City service areas in an effort to help the City reach the community’s climate action goals. Additionally, 28 of the 40 buildings are benchmarking their energy use using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®, allowing staff to evaluate priorities for making building improvements and tracking building performance over time.

    The City Facilities Utility Use can be viewed at the City of Fort Collins OpenCity data platform: https://opencity.fcgov.com/Environmental-Health/City-Facilities-Utility-Use/igj4-de4p


  • If a citywide benchmarking program is implemented, what types of buildings will be included? Does this affect homes?

    11 months ago

    City staff are currently working with a Building Energy Scoring Working Group to recommend options for a benchmarking program that will be reviewed by City Council in the fall of 2018. The group is focusing on larger commercial and multi-family buildings in the short term, with future timelines for inclusion of smaller buildings and homes to be determined. Check out the “What other cities are doing section” on our Building Energy Scoring web page at fcgov.com/bes for more information on some possible options.


  • Do you anticipate benchmarking will increase rental premiums?

    11 months ago

    According to a 2008 national CoStar study, rental rates in ENERGY STAR buildings represent a $2.40 per square foot premium over comparable non-ENERGY STAR buildings and have 3.6 percent higher occupancy. Building energy benchmarking and scoring allows tenants to have more information about the true cost to operate before selecting their next place to rent. Comparing the energy performance of one building against another allows tenants to pick the highest-performing, lowest-operating cost option. As the market continues to recognize the value of energy efficient upgrades, supply, demand and additional consumer choice may change the market picture.


  • When are we going to actually get serious about comparing a buildings energy efficiency? The best we are doing now is educated guessing; however, most of the time it's uneducated guessing. We have the ability to actually measure the "U" factor of a building; why don't we utilize it?

    Green Counter asked about 1 year ago

    Building energy benchmarking and scoring is the process of comparing your past energy uses to something similar. “Something similar” might be internal, like performance at the same time last year. Or it might be external, like performance compared to similar facilities elsewhere. The processes of benchmarking and scoring uses actual usage data to determine a building’s real-world performance. However, it doesn’t tell the whole story of where to take the next steps to improve. Through a FREE Efficiency Works for Business facility assessment, the City’s energy advisors can help take a closer look at the most cost-effective opportunities to improve a building’s energy performance.

    Fort Collins Utilities and the Building Energy Scoring Working Group are exploring structured and standardized approaches, including potential requirements, for: 

    ·  Automated data transfer from Fort Collins Utilities and Xcel gas of whole building energy data; including, gas, electric, on-site renewables, and water;

    ·  Standardized comparisons with the local and national average;

    ·  The ability to share such information with the public; and

    ·  Provide businesses actionable feedback on how much they are saving from efficiency improvements.


  • Whose interest will the benchmarking and scoring initiative serve?

    about 1 year ago

    Fort Collins Utilities benchmarking, scoring, and transparency efforts will consider a phased approach starting with existing larger commercial buildings and eventually working down to smaller facilities. The next twelve months of public engagement includes commercial building owners, operators, real-estate brokers, lenders and appraisers in order to structure policy recommendations to staff that serves the interests of the business community as well as accomplishing community-wide energy efficiency goals.


  • What types and sizes of buildings will be scored? Is this for commercial buildings or will it include detached single family homes as well?

    about 1 year ago

    Detached single family home energy scoring will proceed on a parallel path through voluntary options aligned with the Efficiency Works Home program. Eligible residential customers are able to receive a HOME ENERGY SCORE at no additional cost with an Efficiency Works™ for Home efficiency audit. 


  • Is Fort Collins considering a benchmarking policy like Boulder and Denver?

    about 1 year ago

    At this time, Fort Collins Utilities staff are working with stakeholders to explore how a benchmarking program may be implemented locally. The Building Energy Scoring Working Group will help Utilities staff develop options over the next year. We are also asking community members to provide input and feedback to help us identify the options that best serve our community needs.