• City of Pittsburgh Enacts “Benchmarking” Ordinance Requiring Building Owners to Report Water and Energy Usage
  • January 12, 2017 | Authors: Heather S. Heidelbaugh; Michael Metcalfe
  • Law Firm: Leech Tishman - Pittsburgh Office
  • On October 18, 2016, The Pittsburgh City Council passed Ordinance Number 2016-0829 (the “Ordinance”), which adds to the Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances a new article and chapter entitled “Article II: Sustainability, Chapter 626: Building Benchmarking.”

    The Ordinance requires owners of “Covered Buildings” and “City Facilities” to submit to the City of Pittsburgh and its Department of Innovation and Performance, on an annual basis, certain information concerning energy and water usage.

    About the Ordinance
    Specifically, the Ordinance provides that

    The Owner or Owner’s designee of a Covered Building shall, no later than June 1 of each year, submit the following information to the Department [i.e., the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance], in EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager for the previous calendar year, and share with the City of Pittsburgh: (i) Complete Building Energy Usage; (ii) Complete Building Water Usage; and, (iii) Building Characteristics and Use Attributes as required by the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager.+

    The Ordinance defines “Covered Building” to include “(i) [a]ny non-residential building with indoor floor space of 50,000 square feet or more [and] (ii) [a]ll non-residential portions of any mixed-use building where a total of at least 50,000 square feet of indoor floor space is devoted to any non-residential use.”‡

    “City Facilities” must comply with the Ordinance’s reporting requirements by June 1, 2017 and must submit by June 1 of each year the required information concerning the previous year’s water and energy usage. Other Covered Buildings must comply by June 1, 2018.

    Exemptions are available for buildings that, among other things, do not have a certificate of occupancy for the entire calendar year for which benchmarking is required, have an average physical occupancy of less than 50 percent throughout the calendar year, or would suffer undue hardship by virtue of complying with the Ordinance. Exemption requests must be submitted at least 60 days before any benchmarking submission deadline.

    According to the Ordinance, the Department of Innovation and Performance “shall notify Owners of their obligation to benchmark for that calendar year,” and the City “by December 1 of each year . . . shall publicly post on the internet a list of all Covered Buildings and City Facility properties that must provide a benchmarking submission for the following calendar year.”* However, the failure to provide such notification will not relieve any Owner of its obligation to submit the benchmarking information.**

    At this time, the only “enforcement” measure to be applied to a Covered Building Owner who does not comply with the Ordinance is that such owner “will be publicly posted on the online platform described in § 626.05 as ‘eligible and non-participating.’”*** It is possible, however, that City Council could amend the Ordinance in the future to include other enforcement or remedial measures

    +Ordinance § 626.02
    ‡Id. § 626.01(b)
    *Id. § 626.06(a)-(b)
    **Id. § 626.06(a).
    ***Id. § 626.07(c).