Energize Denver- Comply by June 1, 2018 or Face a Fine of $2,000 (or more)!

Written by: on Thursday, May, 3rd, 2018

What is Energize Denver?
The City of Denver has created a public initiative, “Energize Denver,” that “aims to reduce the energy consumption of large buildings by 10 percent by 2020, 30 percent by 2030, and by 80 percent by 2050” (Energize Denver, Denver.org). To achieve these lofty goals, the City passed an ordinance requiring owners of buildings with at least 25,000 square feet to comply with benchmarking, reporting, and other requirements of the City’s energy efficiency program (D.R.M.C. Ord. No. 1231-16, § 2, 12-19-16).

What is Benchmarking?
“Benchmarking” is the process of comparing something to a particular standard or data-set. Denver’s Benchmarking Ordinance requires large buildings to track and report their energy consumption using the free ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager tool. The ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager  compares each building to a national data-set and assigns the building a scaled-score between 1-100.

When does Benchmarking Begin?
Buildings over 50,000 square feet have been required to benchmark, track, and report energy consumption since June 1st, 2017. Beginning June 1st, 2018, the requirement will apply to buildings with at least 25,000 square feet. Reporting is a recurring obligation for Covered Buildings that must occur beginning June 12018 and then again each year (D.R.M.C. Ord. No. 1231-16, § 2, 12-19-16).

What Information Must be Reported and Maintained by Building Owners under Energize Denver?
To comply with the minimum standard for reporting requirements, building owners must provide the following information: (1) the building’s annual energy use intensity; (2) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager score if eligible for a score; (3) any other data fields needed to calculate the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager score for auditing and verification purposes (D.R.M.C. Ord. No. 1231-16, § 2, 12-19-16).

Building Owners are also required to maintain records of monthly energy consumption for at least twenty-four (24) months period and make those available for the City’s inspection upon request. Record keeping and reporting are not the same. Building Owners are not required to report monthly energy bill data, but must keep such records for at least a twenty-four (24) month look back period (D.R.M.C. Ord. No. 1231-16, § 2, 12-19-16).

What Types of Buildings Are Covered by Energize Denver’s Requirements?
“Covered Building” means any building in the City and County of Denver with a Gross Floor Area that is twenty-five thousand (25,000) square feet or larger, unless specifically exempted (D.R.M.C. Ord. No. 1231-16, § 2, 12-19-16).


[Image] Department of Public Health and Environment, Environmental Quality, Energize Denver, Benchmarking Ordinance 

Are there Exemptions to Energize Denver’s Benchmarking Requirement?
Yes, there are exemptions to the benchmarking requirement. Specifically, an owner of a “covered building” may apply for an exemption by claiming (and proving) one of the following applies:

  • 1. Building was not occupied and did not have a certificate of occupancy/ temporary certificate of occupancy for the all twelve (12) months in which benchmarking was required.
  • 2. Building was not occupied due to renovation for the all twelve (12) months in which benchmarking was required.
  • 3. Entire building was issued a demolition permit and demolition commenced on or before the date the benchmark report was due.
  • 4. Building is presently experiencing qualifying financial distress, including:
    • (a) A qualified tax lien sale or public auction due to property tax arrearages on building;
    • (b) Building is controlled by a court appointed receiver; or
    • (c) Building has been acquired by a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
  • 5. Building had an average physical occupancy below sixty percent (60%) for year in which benchmarking was required.
  • 6. Building is used primarily for industrial or agricultural processes.
  • 7. Building’s Owner can demonstrate that energy performance is a confidential business practice that includes trade secrets, privileged, or confidential commercial information.

What Happens to Owners Ignoring Energize Denver’s Requirements?
Violation of any ordinance that comprises Energize Denver’s requirements may be subject to a fine of two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) per violation per day (D.R.M.C. Ord. No. 683-08, § 4, 12-8-08). To avoid the possibility of such hefty fines, Building Owners should comply with the ordinances that comprise Energize Denver’s benchmarking, reporting, and other requirements.

Does the City Actively Monitor Non-Compliance?
Yes, the City of Denver is very active in monitoring compliance with Energize Denver’s requirements. In fact, there is list of “Buildings Not Yet in Compliance with the Denver Benchmarking Ordinance (2018)”. The list is updated weekly! More than likely, owners within a covered building have already received notifications.

Conclusion
Owners of buildings with at least 25,000 square feet must determine whether Energize Denver’s requirements apply to their building. Owners of “covered buildings” are required to benchmark and report its energy consumption using the free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool by June 1st, 2018. Additionally, owners of “covered buildings” must keep records of monthly energy consumption for at least twenty-four months and make those available for City inspection upon request.

For more information please contact one of our attorneys at (303) 432-9999.