Frequently Asked Questions

What is energy benchmarking?
What is the 1 - 100 ENERGY STAR score?
What is the ENERGY STAR label?
Do I need to verify my 1 - 100 ENERGY STAR score with a professional engineer?
How is my EUI different than an ENERGY STAR score - which one should I pay attention to?
Does my score depend on the weather?
How much energy data do I need to supply?
What if my building has multiple tenants that each pay their own energy bills?
I have many buildings served by one gas meter, one water meter, and several electrical meters. How do I enter my buildings, which are not separately metered, into Portfolio Manager?
Do I add parking lots to Portfolio Manager?
How do I measure my parking lot's size?
Do I need to report water use? Does water use include both indoor and outdoor use? What are the correct units for reporting water use?
What is the difference between site and source EUI?
How are greenhouse gas emissions calculated?
How do I calculate the property's Average Occupancy?
What information do I need to get started?
I already benchmark my building, how might this process be different?
I have a Portfolio Manager account but don't remember my username or password.
Is the City asking me to share access to my property through my Portfolio Manager account?
How do I add the Building ID number that I've received from the City into my Portfolio Manager account?
Why is the Building ID on my letter different from my Property ID?
If an office has an server room, should this be treated as a data center?
What if I have a meter that serves a larger floor area than what I have to submit for the ordinance?
Do I need to include any use of fuel oil, diesel, or other types of energy?
Do I have to report my energy costs to Portfolio Manager?
My building was only partially occupied during the benchmarking year in question. Do I still need to comply?
What if some metered tenants have left the building? How do I obtain utility data release forms from them?
Do I have to comply with the benchmarking ordinance if I will be buying or just bought the building?

In the Xcel Benchmarking Tool, why are calendar-month totals used and how are they calculated for the portal?
How do I stop the service from the Xcel Benchmarking Tool?
Do I have to comply with the benchmarking ordinance if I will be buying or just bought the building?

What is energy benchmarking?

Energy benchmarking allows you to compare your property's energy and water use to peer facilities nationwide or against past performance. Using your building's actual energy and water use, along with the building's characteristics and uses, benchmarking lets you know how your building stacks up and its potential for greater energy efficiency.

To comply with the ordinance, the City of Minneapolis has designated the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager as the benchmarking tool. It is a free online tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and that lets you "benchmark, track, and manage energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions against national averages."1

What is the 1 - 100 ENERGY STAR score?

The 1 - 100 ENERGY Star score is the benchmarking metric that Portfolio Manager uses to let you compare your property's performance with similar properties nationwide. An ENERGY STAR score of 50 means that your property is performing at the median energy performance of your property peer group, i.e., 50% of the buildings perform better than your building and 50% perform worse. A score of 75 or more means your building is in the upper quartile of top energy performers and may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification and could display the ENERGY STAR label at your property. Portfolio Manager defines twenty property types that are eligible to receive a 1 - 100 ENERGY STAR score.

What is the ENERGY STAR label?

The ENERGY STAR label shows that your property has received ENERGY STAR certification for the U.S. EPA and is "an energy-efficient top performer that saves money without sacrificing performance."2 To gain ENERGY STAR certification, your property's ENERGY STAR score from Portfolio Manager must be 75 or higher. This is an annual certification and the application must be verified and stamped by a Licensed Professional. More information on the free online application process can be found at the ENERGY STAR website.

Do I need to verify my 1 - 100 ENERGY STAR score with a professional engineer?

No, compliance with the Minneapolis Benchmarking Ordinance does not require that you receive a certified ENERGY STAR score. Independent, third party verification is required ONLY if the building owner chooses to register for ENERGY STAR certification.

How is my EUI different than an ENERGY STAR score - which one should i pay attention to?

The Energy Use Intensity or EUI is the energy used per square foot of the building per year. It is calculated from the measured data that you have collected divided by the gross floor area of your property. It has the units of kBtu/ft2-yr or GJ/ft2-yr. Portfolio Manager calculates the EUI for all property types. The ENERGY STAR score is a dimensionless, statistical metric that tells you where, on a scale of 1 - 100, your property performs in comparison to similar sites nationwide. Of the 80 property types that Portfolio Manager can model, an ENERGY STAR score can be calculated for twenty of those types. The EUI will have broader applicability over a wider range of property types.

Does my score depend on the weather?

Yes, Portfolio Manager mathematically adjusts actual energy data so it represents energy typically used in an average year for the same location. This accounts for weather differences from year to year that may result in abnormally high or low energy consumption.

How much energy and water data do I need to supply?

You will need data that covers the time period from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 to benchmark your building. Because of when your meters are read, it is best to collect your billing data from December 2012 to January 2014. You should include all active meters and all fuel types (e.g., electricity, gas, oil, steam, onsite renewable energy, etc.) for your property.

What if my building has multiple tenants that each pay their own energy bills?

You must enter all the energy data that accounts for the energy use in the entire building, i.e., from all the meters for all fuel types regardless of who receives or pays the utility bills. The ordinance contains a provision which requires tenants to provide utility information to the building owner upon request. Utilities also have data release forms that your tenants can sign that will allow the utilities to directly send meter data to you.

I have many buildings served by one gas meter, one water meter, and several electrical meters. How do I enter my buildings, which are not separately metered, into Portfolio Manager?

When you have a number of buildings that are in the same geographical area but some of the energy and/or water meters are shared by the buildings, Portfolio Manager allows you to group these buildings as a "campus." The calculations will be performed for the combined usage based on the total floor space of the campus. Portfolio Manager allows you to input usage from both campus-level meters (shared by multiple buildings) and separate meters for individual buildings.

Do I add parking lots to Portfolio Manager?

If the parking lot uses energy that is metered by the building, then it should be added to Portfolio Manager as a "space use" of the building. If it is on a separate meter (that is not included in the energy use of the building), then you do NOT add the parking lot to Portfolio Manager. Portfolio Manager defines three types of parking lots:

  • Open Parking whose energy use will be lighting
  • Partially Enclosed Parking (No Walls) - energy use = lighting
  • Completely Enclosed Parking (Walls) - energy use = lighting, ventilation, and heating (if present).
A gross floor area is required for each of the applicable parking types for the building.

How do I measure my parking lot's size?

In the cases of open or partially enclosed parking lots, and in the absence of plans, you can take the area of one parking space in the lot and multiply it by the total number of spaces in the lot to calculate the parking lot square footage (SF). Surrounding landscaping that is lit by the parking lot's lighting should not be included in the SF calculation.

Do I need to report water use? Does water use include both indoor and outdoor use? What are the correct units for reporting water use?

The ordinance does require that you report your water use but you only need to report your indoor water use. In Minneapolis, water billing rates are charged by water units where 1 water unit = 100 cubic feet. So, the units chosen in Portfolio Manager for the water meter should be ccf (hundred cubic feet).

What is the difference between site and source EUI?

Site Energy is the energy the building consumes for heat and electricity and is measured by the utility meters in the building. While site energy can be readily obtained from the utility bills, it is not quite as useful when comparing usage with other buildings because of differences in the fuel mixes involved in creating the energy used. For instance, when a building uses electricity, there is no difference in the site energy use if the electricity was purchased from the grid or generated on site using solar or wind energy. However, the amount of electricity purchased from the grid should reflect the amount of energy that is consumed to create the electricity and any losses that occur when the electricity is delivered to the building.

Source energy on the other hand traces the heat and electricity use of the building back to the raw fuel inputs. It accounts for all production, transmission, and delivery losses and provides a complete thermodynamic assessment of the total energy use. Portfolio Manager uses source energy as the common unit and bases its calculations of source energy on national averages for each of the energy types. For more information, refer to the ENERGY STAR website.

How are greenhouse gas emissions calculated?

Portfolio Manager converts your property's energy values to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by multiplying the energy values by emissions factors. The factors take into account the emissions of the major GHG, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, in creating a single carbon dioxide equivalent number. For electricity purchased from the grid, Portfolio Manager uses an emissions factor for Minneapolis based on electricity produced in the upper midwest region of the U.S. power grid. For more information, refer to the ENERGY STAR website.

How do I calculate the property's Average Occupancy?

The Average Occupancy of the building is the percentage of the building that is occupied and operational. Portfolio Manager uses this to account for vacant or unused space in the property.

The average occupancy for hotels should be the average percentage of rooms filled over the year.

What information do I need to get started?

You will need to collect the following information before starting your session:

  • Property name and address
  • Your 2013 bills for electricity, gas, steam, chilled water, and municipal water (total usage, billing beginning and end dates)
  • Building gross square footage
  • Building type(s)
  • Certain building attributes, depending on building type. These may include:
    • Weekly operating hours
    • Number of computers
    • Number of workers
    • Percent of building that is heated or cooled

A full list is included in the guide (pdf) by building type.

I already benchmark my building. How might this process be different?

For the City benchmarking, you will need to report the energy use for all fuels (such as electricity, natural gas, and district heating and cooling) as well as the water use for the entire building. This also includes all commercial uses of the building which means that if you have tenants that rent offices, retail space, stores, or restaurants, they must be included in the calculation of your benchmarking metrics. Non commercial uses such as residential uses, industrial uses, warehouses, and congregant living facilities should not be included.

I have a Portfolio Manager account but don't remember my username or password.

To retrieve your username you must have the email address that is associated to your Portfolio Manager account. To proceed, go to the Portfolio Manager login page and click on "I forgot my username." Enter the email address and your username will be emailed to you. Then return to the login page and click on "I forgot my password."

With your username and email address, you will be able to reset your password. After verifying your identity by correctly answering the challenge question that you had previously selected when you set up your account, you will be able to change your password. You should now be all set to log in.

Is the City asking me to share access to my property through my Portfolio Manager account?

The City does not want you to share access to your property in Portfolio Manager with them. For the disclosure ordinance, the City wish only to collect specific property data and have created a custom report template to have Portfolio Manager generate this report for your property. To create the report and submit it to the City, you should use this link. This report is a spreadsheet that you can also view as a report in your Portfolio Manger account.

How do I add the Building ID number that I've received from the City into my Portfolio Manager account?

Once you have successfully created an account and a property in Portfolio Manager, click on a property on the My Portfolio tab. After accessing the property, click on the Details tab. Scroll down, and you'll see a box on the left titled "Unique Identifiers (IDs)." Click "Edit." On the next page, scroll down and you'll find the "Standard IDs" box. You'll be able to select "Minneapolis Building ID" from the dropdown menu and type in your building's unique value in the box on the right, then click "Save."

Why is the Building ID on my letter different from my Property ID?

Your Property ID identifies the parcel that your building is located in. Your Building ID is specific to your building. There may be more than one building on a given parcel. Entering the correct Building ID in Portfolio Manager is integral for matching your data to the correct building.

If an office has an server room, should this be treated as a data center?

According to Energy Star, the Data Center property use should not be used to represent a server closet or computer training area.

If the server room has a separate cooling system and operating hours different than the rest of the building, it should be entered as a separate property use type in Portfolio Manager using the Office property use type. In this Office property use type, enter the weekly operating hours (typically 168 hours), zero workers, and enter the count of PCs and Servers in the PC field. For the PC count, both PCs and servers should be counted only once (e.g. one server counts as 1). Note: a server rack can contain a number of servers and each should be added to the PC count accordingly.

All other areas including server rooms without separate cooling systems, computer training areas, telecom closets, and print/copy rooms should be included in the total gross floor area input for the property's main property use type (e.g., Office). Enter the count of PCs and Servers in the PC field. For the PC count, both PCs and servers should be counted only once (e.g. one server counts as 1). Note: a server rack can contain a number of servers and each should be added to the PC count accordingly.

What if I have a meter that serves a larger floor area than what I have to submit for the ordinance?

If you have a single meter that serves more than just the floor area covered by the City ordinance, you can estimate the energy or water use that applies only to the eligible space. For example, some properties have a single water meter that serves both commercial and residential space. The residential space would not be included in the total floor area, so the water use that serves that portion of the building should not be included either.

Your estimation for the amount of water to include will depend on the uses of the different property types, and the relative water consumption of each. You will need to make a best guess estimate based on the occupancy and the water use of the space not included. For the simplest approach, estimate the applicable portion of your water use by multiplying the total water use by the percentage of your floor area that is required to comply with the benchmarking ordinance. For example, if your total use is 100 ccf, and only 50 percent of your building must comply with the ordinance, estimate your water use at 50 percent of 100 ccf, or 50 ccf.

Do I need to include any use of fuel oil, diesel, or other types of energy?

Yes, if you have supplemental energy sources that provided a non-negligible amount of energy to your building (approximately over 1 percent), those should also be included in your report. Common examples might be customers on interruptible service who needed to use supplemental generation during an interruption.

When you add a new meter in Portfolio Manager that is for a delivered fuel, make sure the box to "Enter as Delivery" is checked. You will need to enter your delivery dates and quantities delivered, in the correct units, that will cover your use in 2013.

Do I have to report my energy costs to Portfolio Manager?

Cost reporting is not required by the City ordinance, and is completely optional for input into the Energy Star Portfolio Manager web site. If you decide to include costs, it will be for your own tracking purposes only, and will not be disclosed to the City or the public.

NOTE: If you DO decide to track costs in Portfolio Manager, keep in mind that buildings supplied with district energy reflect costs beyond just the metered energy. Therefore, it's not accurate to compare the costs of buildings served by district energy directly to those properties without district energy. There are three components to a district energy bill: 1) consumption - the energy you use; 2) demand - the cost of capital necessary to pay for heating and cooling equipment; and 3) operating costs - the costs to maintain and operate the district energy system. Total energy costs for customers who are not on district energy typically do not take into account the last two expense categories.

If you decide to enter your cost for district energy, you will only be able to accurately compare your building to itself from year to year. Other metrics from Energy Star will not factor in the demand and operating costs which, in turn, will make your building look much more expensive than other buildings that don't capture these expenditures.

My building was only partially occupied during the benchmarking year in question. Do I still need to comply?

If your building was less than 50 percent occupied during the relevant benchmarking year, you qualify for an exemption and do not have to submit energy and water use information for that year. You should call the City at 612-673-3867 to assure you have complied with proper documentation of your exemption status.

If your building was over 50 percent occupied, you are still required to comply. You will still include all of the energy use and floor area for your entire building, and will record the appropriate occupancy value when prompted by Portfolio Manager.

What if some metered tenants have left the building? How do I obtain utility data release forms from them?

The benchmarking ordinance requires that all tenants respond to a building owner's requests for energy use within 30 days of the request, whether they still occupy the building or not. However, if you are not able to obtain this information from past tenants, then you will need to estimate their usage based on the EUI of a similar tenant in the building.

Assume Tenant A has vacated the building. First, identify a similar tenant where energy data are available (Tenant B). Scale Tenant B's energy use using the relative floor area of the two tenants. You would divide Tenant B's energy use by Tenant B's total leased floor area, and then multiply by the floor area of Tenant A's vacated space to estimate a total for Tenant A. This would only be done for the months of the year when Tenant A occupied the building. The estimated usage would be consistent with the EUI of the rest of the building and you should have a reasonable approximation of the vacated tenant. These will all be defined as estimated values for the meter data. For the property use details of the vacated tenant, use default values unless the actual use details can be acquired.

Do I have to comply with the benchmarking ordinance if I am buying or just recently bought the building?

Yes, owners, regardless of time of ownership, must comply with the benchmarking ordinance. As part of the purchasing process, you should obtain a signed consent form from the previous building owner/manager giving you access to energy data used during reporting year and during the time in which you did not own the property. This is to be done for each applicable utility except water, as water consumption is readily available.

In the Xcel Benchmarking Tool, why are calendar-month totals used and how are they calculated for the portal?

The meter reading start and end dates for buildings with multiple meters and multiple tenants are often not the same for each meter. For this reason, electric use is prorated daily by dividing the total electric use in the billing period by the number of days in the period. The electric use per day is summed for each calendar month.

How do I stop the service from the Xcel Benchmarking Tool?

Email benchmarking@xcelenergy.com to request the service be stopped on your Xcel accounts.

1http://www.energystar.gov/buildings/facility-owners-and-managers/existing-buildings/use-portfolio-manager/new-energy-star-portfolio-manager
2http://www.energystar.gov/buildings/facility-owners-and-managers/existing-buildings/earn-recognition/energy-star-certification

Helpline

mplsenergystar@minneapolismn.gov
Phone: 612.673.3091

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About: This website was made possible through cooperation between the City Of Minneapolis, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Center for Energy and Environment.



Background photo credit: Downtown Minneapolis - Mill City Museum by Jeremiah Peterson, on Flickr