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Understanding San Francisco Commercial Energy Requirements

Existing Energy programs

Similar to many existing Energy programs, the City of San Francisco has two requirements: 1. Existing Building Energy Ordinance (EBEO) and 2. Energy Audit. In this article we are going to cover the difference between the two reports and their requirements.

SF Existing Buildings Energy Ordinance (EBO) and Energy Audit (ASHRAE Level I and II): The Golden Duo

“San Francisco is a world to explore. It is a place where the heart can go on a delightful adventure” – William Saroyan

What Is the Existing Buildings Energy Ordinance (EBO)?

In 2010 the City of San Francisco launched an Energy Benchmark program called the Existing Buildings Energy Ordinance, or the SF EBO. The EBO program states that by April 1st of each year, non-residential buildings 10,000+ sq. ft. and multifamily residential buildings 50,000+ sq. ft. are required to report their aggregated Electric, Gas, and Steam usage from the previous calendar year. Based on the Energy data provided and the property’s details, the property receives a score ranging from 1-100 indicating how “Energy Efficient” the property is in comparison to properties of similar type and size.

Failure to meet the April 1st deadline will be displayed on the city’s public website and a written notice will be mailed. If after 45-days of the written notice being sent out, the city’s Department of Environment holds the right to fine buildings still marked as “Not Complied” as they see fit. Buildings less than 25,000 sq. ft can face fines of $50/day and up to $1,500 max, while those 25,000+ sq. ft. can be fined $100/day and a maximum of $2,500.

There are two scenarios in which a building can be found exempt from filing: the building is newly developed or had been unoccupied or vacant during the previous calendar year in which data would be reporting. If you believe your building should be exempt for any reason other than the two listed, then you can contact the city at When filing for an EBO excemption, you will need to provide the city with the following information: current owner contact information, building’s Assesor Parcel Number (APN), building’s gross sq. ft., and reason you believe you are exempt from the program. To locate your APN, refer to the city’s site:

In a race for limited resources, it is the energy efficient that will win the race.”

The SF Energy Audits – ASHRAE Level I and II 

Unlike Los Angeles and New York City, the San Francisco Energy Audit is required to be reported every 5-years by non-residential buildings. There are two Energy Audit reports that need to be completed based on a building’s square footage: ASHRAE Level I for building 10,000-49,000 sq. ft. and ASHRAE Level II for buildings 50,000+ sq.ft. Despite the ASHRAE programs being developed back in 2004, it wasn’t until 2008 when San Francisco decided to adopt it. The city will notify building owners within 12-months of the deadline that they are required to file by. 
Like all other Energy Audit programs, conducting your SF ASHRAE Level I and II will help save money down the line. This is done by idenitfying potential opportunities and improvements for the building through an analysis of the property’s existing systems and equipment. This analysis will determine if the building is running optimally in tandem with details such as building type, environment, and occupancy. It is important to note that there are a few cases in which a building can file for an exemption for the San Francisco Energy Audit: 
  1. 1. The building received an Energy Star in the past 3-5 years or a LEED certification in the past 5 year 
  2. 2. The building is newly constructed in the past 5-years
  3. 3. The building was vacant during the caldendar year prior to your Audit deadline
  4. 4. The building is going through a financial hardship (i.e. foreclosure and for sale under a public auction)
For more information on the Energy Audit exemptions and how to apply for one, refer to the city’s site:

Cost-effective energy efficiency projects can reduce annual utility bills by 20% and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all while saving your business money.”

Helpful Resources

To read more on what the Energy Benchmark and Audit process entails, check out Volume 01, 02 and Volume 03 of the Vert Report. The City of San Francisco’s website is another great resource to further educate yourself on the SF EBO and Energy Audit.

Want to get started on meeting your Energy deadlines but don’t know where to start? We can help you! Just click over to VertPro to get started on your EBO and Energy Audit processes. To speak to a representative, you can email us at or call 800-585-2690.

To request an Audit proposal on your property, please email

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