Home Energy Labeling and Benchmarking

Image by Moja Msanii

Home energy labeling and benchmarking are policies that help make energy efficiency visible. Through standardized scores, you can compare the energy efficiency of similar buildings.


Energy labeling is geared towards single and two-family homes, and benchmarking can apply to larger residences.

Learn more by listening to this audio guide.

Home Energy Labeling and Benchmarking
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"If you wouldn’t wouldn’t buy a car without knowing the gas mileage, why would you buy a house effectively without knowing what the gas mileage is of that house?"

Anne Watson, Mayor, Montpelier, VT

Frequently asked questions

What is a home energy label?

Just as cars have miles per gallon (mpg) ratings, a home energy label provides information about a home’s energy performance using a rating or scorecard. Typically, a label will provide a home energy score in MMBtu/year and compare that home’s energy performance to similar homes or buildings in the same geographic area. This information can help homebuyers and renters understand their future energy costs and compare available options.

What is a benchmarking ordinance?

A benchmarking ordinance is a policy or program that either encourages (voluntary ordinance) or requires (mandatory ordinance) building owners to track and report annual energy use and/or performance. The details of a benchmarking ordinance will differ from place to place; however, they often apply only to buildings of a certain size threshold or to buildings in a specific zoning district. They're often tied to existing energy efficiency programs and/or financial incentives to improve energy performance. Data gathered from benchmarking ordinances can be used to compare building energy performance to similar buildings in the same geographic area, target energy efficiency programs and incentives where they are most needed, and help track a community’s progress on its energy goals.

How could Keene benefit from these policies?

1. Businesses, renters and homebuyers can make more informed decisions that take energy costs into account when buying or renting a property. 2. For landlords and realtors, adding visibility to the energy costs of a home may increase the marketability of homes that are more efficient. 3. Home energy labeling and benchmarking ordinances make energy performance visible. With more information about building energy performance, Keene can track progress towards its energy goals and better target energy efficiency efforts and incentives in the future. 4. Commercial and municipal buildings in Keene that could benefit most from energy efficiency improvements will be identified. 5. These programs can help drive participation in existing energy audit and energy efficiency programs offered through NH Saves. 6. Over time, Home Energy Labeling and Benchmarking policies help to lower energy costs for owners and tenants, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create and sustain jobs in the energy services and construction trades.

Examples from other communities

Home Energy Labeling

  • Home Energy Score Ordinance (Portland, Oregon): The City of Portland adopted the Home Energy Score Ordinance in December 2016, which went into effect just over a year later in January 2018. The ordinance requires sellers to obtain a home energy performance report prior to listing their properties. The report must contain the DOE Home Energy Score and must be provided to prospective buyers and included in the real estate listing. Home Energy Score data is entered into a local Green Building Registry, which then auto-populates Portland’s local multiple listing service, which in turn, populates several consumer-facing real estate portals, such as Zillow and Trulia. Sellers who fail to comply with the ordinance receive a warning notice, and if the seller does not take corrective action within 90 days, they must pay a fine of $500. The City of Portland maintains a dedicated webpage with information, tools, and resources to help support homeowners with compliance. To learn more: www.pdxhes.com.
  • Building Energy Saving Ordinance (Berkeley, California): Berkeley’s Building Energy Saving Ordinance (BESO) applies to 1 to 4 unit homes in addition to buildings of a certain size or greater. Homeowners are required to get a Home Energy Score prior to sale. However, this requirement may be deferred to the buyer for up to 12 months at time of sale. Data from the first year of the ordinance shows that the majority of homes scored lacked proper insulation and had single paned windows. The three most common recommendations included in Berkeley Home Energy Score reports to date have been floor insulation, attic insulation and air sealing, and installing a central gas furnace. In a recent report that evaluates the BESO program, recommendations for improving the program for 1 to 4 unit homes include requiring the Home Energy Score at time of listing rather than at time of sale, among other recommendations. To learn more: www.cityofberkeley.info/benchmarking_buildings


  • Energy & Water Benchmarking Ordinance (South Portland, Maine): Adopted in 2017, the Energy & Water Benchmarking Ordinance in South Portland, Maine, requires all municipal, school, and commercial buildings larger than 5,000 square feet to benchmark and disclose their annual energy and water consumption to the city each year. The ordinance also applies to residential multifamily buildings with more than 10 units. In order to encourage increases in energy efficiency, the ordinance mandates that each covered property subject to reporting requirements must complete a building energy audit once every five years. However, while disclosure of the building energy use and periodic audits are required, the policy does not mandate buildings to meet certain levels of energy efficiency, reach energy reduction targets, or make energy-related improvements. Typically, it’s uncommon for mandatory benchmarking ordinances to offer incentives, but in the case of South Portland, they offer a $5,000 compliance incentive that can be used as a credit for future expenses stemming from city application, review, or inspection fees associated with construction or redevelopment projects at the property. To learn more: www.southportland.org/our-city/board-and-committees/comprehensive-plan-committee/b/
  • Building Energy Saving Ordinance (Berkeley, California): Adopted in 2015, the Building Energy Saving Ordinance (BESO) in Berkeley, California requires that all covered buildings report their annual energy consumption. The BESO phases in reporting requirements by building size so that larger buildings over 50,000 square feet must report first in 2018 while smaller buildings, such as those below 5,000 square feet, are not required to report until 2022. Similarly, covered buildings over 25,000 square feet must conduct an energy assessment every five years while covered buildings below that threshold must only conduct an energy assessment every ten years. Berkeley also operates an Energy Efficiency Incentive Program that complements the BESO and encourages building upgrades and improvements. To learn more: www.cityofberkeley.info/benchmarking_buildings/
  • Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (Cambridge, Massachusetts): Adopted in 2014, the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a time-tested ordinance that provides a wealth of resources and data that can be leveraged by those looking to create ordinances in other jurisdictions. Covered buildings include all buildings over 25,000 square feet, residential buildings with over 50 units, and municipal buildings over 10,000 square feet. Each of these building subsets are required to report energy and water usage to the city on an annual basis. The results of the reporting are publicly disclosed on a building-level basis on the Cambridge Open Data Portal. Cambridge also publishes annual reports, summary statistics, and compliance maps. To learn more: www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/zoninganddevelopment/sustainablebldgs/buildingenergydisclosureordinance.aspx