Penalties

All non-residential and multifamily buildings greater than 20,000 SF in the City of Seattle are required to annually report accurate energy benchmarking data. Failure to submit an annual report or reports with inaccurate data may result in a Notice of Violation with assessed monetary fines. See below for information on types of violations, how to submit an appeal to request mitigation if you receive a violation, and where to submit fine payment.

Update (12/15/2023):

While nearly 3,000 properties have already achieved energy benchmarking compliance for reporting year 2022 (RY2022), the OSE Director has determined that the city will not enforce fines for non-compliance during this cycle. Ongoing challenges with the adoption of PSE’s EnergyCAP utility data reporting system resulted in significant difficulties in the compliance process for many reporters. Fines for non-compliance will resume for reporting year 2023 (RY2023), with some significant updates to the benchmarking law enacted as part of the recent passage into law of the Building Emissions Performance Standard:

  • The deadline to submit benchmarking data for RY2023 will be June 1st 2024, to mirror the state’s Clean Buildings Performance Standard annual reporting deadline.
  • Non-compliance fines for RY2023 will be streamlined into a single Notice of Violation issued 90 days after the June 1st reporting deadline in place of quarterly accruing fines.
    • Fines for properties between 20,000 and 50,000 square feet will be $2,000.
    • Fines for properties greater than 50,000 square feet will be $4,000.

The RY2022 Benchmarking Compliance Portal will continue to be updated on a regular basis to allow property owners to check their benchmarking status. OSE encourages property owners not currently in compliance to review our Benchmarking Instructions page and complete the benchmarking process; ensuring property compliance for RY2022 is an effective step towards avoiding fines for non-compliance in RY2023.

For questions related to violations, appeals, or payments, please contact:

Benchmarking Enforcement Coordinator: Ashley McCulley
Phone: (206) 684-3139
Email: energybenchmarking@seattle.gov (include Enforcement in the subject line)

Multifamily and non-residential buildings greater than 20,000 square feet (excluding parking) must be accurately benchmarked and reported to the City of Seattle annually (for the prior year's energy use). Visit the Instructions page to learn how to benchmark and make annual updates. 

Ordinance Enforcement & Penalties for Non-Compliance

The City of Seattle has the legal authority to assess fines for non-compliance. The Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) will attempt to notify owner of record about the requirement to report. If a building is non-compliant, official warning letters will be sent to the owner of record and if known, their registered agent. The warning letters are designed to encourage compliance as they state the time remaining to comply before penalties will be assessed. Finally, a Notice of Violation with penalties is assessed for those in violation with SMC 22.920.  

Penalties for Failure to Report

Failure to submit an accurate annual benchmarking report to the City of Seattle will result in penalties assessed 90 days (one quarter) after the reporting deadline. Building owners that do not comply with Seattle Municipal Code 22.920 will be sent a Notice of Violation with an assessed fine amount.

Annual penalty amounts are based on building size:    

  • 50,000 SF or greater non-residential and multifamily buildings = $4,000
  • 20,000 to 49,999 SF non-residential and multifamily buildings = $2,000

Fine Schedule

The OSE Director has determined that the city will not enforce fines for non-compliance during the reporting year 2022 (RY2022) cycle. Ongoing challenges with the adoption of PSE’s EnergyCAP utility data reporting system resulted in significant difficulties in the compliance process for many reporters. Fines for non-compliance will resume for reporting year 2023 (RY2023). The RY2023 reporting deadline will be June 1st 2024.

A building owner may also be fined for submitting an inaccurate benchmarking report or for failing to disclose energy performance upon request. In addition, a tenant that fails to provide information necessary for a building owner to benchmark may be subject to a fine. Any violation is subject to a $500 fine.  

For additional questions or to report a request for an energy disclosure report from a building owner that has not been responded to, please email energybenchmarking@seattle.gov. 

How to Appeal a Notice of Violation

A Notice of Violation (NOV) may be appealed to request fine mitigation. All appeals will be reviewed through the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment's administrative review process. You must respond to a Notice of Violation within thirty (30) calendar days from the date served. Failure to respond within thirty (30) calendar days will result in entry of an order that you committed the violation and are responsible for the penalties. An appeal response must be received 5:00 p.m. on the day the response is due. 

To appeal, please complete the online appeal form below. Contact (206) 684-3139 or email energybenchmarking@seattle.gov to request a hard copy appeal form or for assistance submitting an appeal online.

 

How to Appeal an Administrative Review Decision

Following Administrative Review, the appellant has the right to appeal the Office of Sustainability and Environment Director's administrative review decision to the Hearing Examiner. Administrative Review Appeals must be received by the Hearing Examiner within fifteen (15) calendar days from the decision issued date. Any mailed response must be in the Office of the Hearing Examiner by 5:00 p.m. on the day the response is due. Visit www.seattle.gov/examiner or call (206) 684-0521 to learn more. 

To avoid accruing penalties you must correct the violation, visit the Instructions page for instructions.  

Penalty Payment

  • Do not send cash.
  • Print the notice of violation number on the check or money order.
  • Only payments in full will be accepted.
  • A check or money order payable in US funds to the City of Seattle can be mailed to:

Seattle Department of Finance and Administrative Services 
Re: Benchmarking Penalty Payment, Treasury Department 
PO Box 34214 
Seattle, WA 98124-4214

Payment can also be made in person at the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave., Lobby Payment & Information Desk (4th Floor), Seattle, WA.

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Help Desk - energybenchmarking@seattle.gov |  (206) 727-8484

Get Updates - Sign up for the Benchmarking E-News for program updates, workshop dates and tips

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Sustainability and Environment

Jessyn Farrell, Director
Address: 700 5th Avenue, #1868, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94729, Seattle, WA, 98124-4729
Phone: (206) 256-5158
OSE@seattle.gov

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