Photo of a city skyline in the daytime with lots of office buildings.

There has been an increase in building energy benchmarking policies at the state and local level over the past few years, which has resulted in an abundance of data with the potential to inform the development of actionable energy-efficiency offerings. However, city staff and program administrators often do not have access to proper resources or the capacity to manage the data in a streamlined and centralized manner.

To make this easier and more effective for cities and counties, the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) recently released the Putting Data to Work toolkit with support from the Department of Energy’s Commercial Buildings Integration program. Designed specifically for local government sustainability leadership, energy-efficiency service providers, utilities, and building owners, the toolkit provides guidance and methods that stakeholders can use to successfully deploy effective energy and water performance data to drive savings.

There are currently 23 cities, two states, and one county with building performance legislation that requires commercial and multifamily building owners to track building energy use on an annual basis. The project teamed up with the cities of New York, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., which both helped inform the toolkit and set the guideposts for developing processes to collect and manage data, providing instruction to building owners subject to compliance, and thinking through the application of actionable data in achieving maximum savings.

“Across the U.S., local governments are embracing their role as change agents and tackling energy waste in buildings as a critical pathway to reach ambitious economic and environmental goals,” said Cliff Majersik, executive director of IMT. “Energy and water benchmarking laws gather and provide the market with a treasure trove of useful data. However, that data is only valuable if it is actively used to drive smarter business decisions and savings.”

IMT partnered with the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), the New York City mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility, and the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation (NYEEC) to better understand specific efforts and the potential to replicate success on a more broad scale across the U.S. Washington and New York City both partook in a pilot program that contributed to the effort by integrating benchmarking, policy data, and building data acquired from the CBI programs data tools: the Standard Energy Efficiency Data (SEED) platform and the Building Energy Data Exchange Specification (BEDES).

The Putting Data to Work toolkit provides stakeholders with important guidance resources:

  • A report explaining ways that benchmarking and auditing data can help identify high-priority buildings for outreach, communicate the opportunity for energy efficiency, and translate it into actionable information.
  • A resource list to help cities provide guidance to allow building owners to take their efficiency efforts to the next level after benchmarking
  • A guide to answer the critical question of whether energy-efficiency policies and programs are having the desired impact.

The project also developed more targeted resources for utilities and program administrators:

  • A primer for utilities on the emerging uses of policy-generated building energy data.
  • An implementation guide for program administrators to use to identify prospective customers.
  • Outreach strategies for engaging in conversations with building owners about energy data.

The full toolkit is available at