Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to implement the state’s benchmarking program for commercial buildings and large multifamily housing of 16 units or more. The passage of AB 802 makes California the first state to require both sectors to annually report their energy usage, which will then be made available to the public.

The legislation directs the state's Energy Commission to establish the program, which will supply residential and commercial building owners with information to compare their total energy usage to that of similar structures. By collecting this data, the program aims to identify opportunities for energy reduction and encourage investments in improving performance.

The commercial benchmarking program had been in the works since 2007, but was never fully implemented due in part to the inability of building owners to obtain energy consumption information from utility companies​. AB 802 fully implements the commercial program and expands it ​to include the multifamily housing sector.

Two cities in California currently have or will soon have benchmarking programs. San Francisco mandates that all nonresidential buildings greater than 10,000 square feet publicly disclose their performance data. ​The Urban Land Institute issued a report earlier this week identifying a 7.9-percent reduction in energy use across a total of 176 commercial properties after the implementation of the city's benchmarking program in 2011​. Beginning in December 2015, Berkeley will also require that all public building owners complete annual energy assessments.

Check back next week for an interactive map of all the current benchmarking programs across the country.