Frequently Asked Questions

Important Update: Due to the impacts of Covid-19, the deadline for reporting has been extended to August 28, 2020. 

Download the printable FAQ (5 pages) or use the search box below to quickly find answers.

Energy and Water Benchmarking

What is benchmarking?
Benchmarking a building is measuring its energy and water use and using that data to compare its performance over time as well as to compare it to similar buildings. Benchmarking allows owners and occupants to understand their building’s relative energy and water performance as well as wastage.  They can use that information to make strategic decisions that will potentially save money and energy while improving comfort and health.
Why did the City Council pass this ordinance?

Across the country in large cities, buildings often account for most of the energy use and carbon pollution. As part of a long-term greenhouse gas reduction effort, this ordinance will help identify the level of efficiency in large buildings across Des Moines. Ultimately, benchmarking will provide insight into reducing energy and water waste.

When does this ordinance go into effect?

The ordinance was adopted by City Council on June 3, 2019. It went into effect the day it was adopted.

If my building needs to comply, what do I need to do?

Building owners must submit energy and water usage data by May 1 annually to the City of Des Moines using either ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager or Iowa B3 Benchmarking Program.

When do I need to comply by and how often?

To be in compliance, the ordinance specifies:
Initial Reporting Due Date:

  • City buildings                                     June 1, 2019 (for 2018 data)
  • Non-city buildings                             May 1, 2020 (for 2019 data)

Initial Data Published to City’s Website:

  • City buildings                                     May 1, 2020
  • Non-city buildings data                     July 1, 2022

Beyond the initial dates, building owners must report annually by May 1.

Who is responsible for compliance?

As per the ordinance, building “owners” are required to comply. Owner means any of the following:

  • Any part owner, joint owner, tenant in common, tenant in partnership, joint tenant of the whole or a part of such building or land, either alone or with others.
  • A tenant in the case of a property subject to a triple net lease between an owner and a single tenant;
  • The council of co-owners for property subject to a declaration recorded pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 499B;
  • The board of directors for property subject to articles filed pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 499A; or
  • An agent authorized to act on behalf of any of the above.
Which buildings are impacted and need to comply?

The ordinance applies to any building 25,000 square feet in total building gross floor area or larger except the following:

  • Residential home
  • Multi-residential buildings with less than five dwelling units
  • Industrial real estate
  • Buildings owned or leased by federal, state, county governments or municipal housing agency for the city
  • Buildings used primarily for elementary and/or secondary school
  • Buildings used primarily for religious assembly
  • Properties that have been exempted by the Community Development Director

If you are unsure whether your building is required to comply or not, you can check at:

Are there any building exemptions?

Property owners may submit a request for reporting exemption for any calendar year based on the following factors:

  • The property did not have a certificate of occupancy for the entire calendar year
  • A demolition permit was issued for the property and the property was vacated during the calendar year
  • The property did not receive energy or water utility services for a cumulative 30 days or more during the calendar year
  • The property had average daily occupancy of no more than one person during the calendar year
  • The property has/is facing financial stress during the calendar year, meaning one of the following is true:
    • Expenses significantly exceeds revenue
    • Sold at tax sale under Iowa Code Chapter 446
    • Is subject to foreclosure or forfeiture proceedings under Iowa Code 654 or 656
    • Is under court appointed receivership
    • Unique features, functions or uses will cause undue hardship to the owner and will reveal owner proprietary information protected by law
    • The property is multi-family residential real estate where building owner does not have access to reasonable means to obtain such aggregated whole-building data
    • The property is LEED certified through USGBC
    • The property is multi-residential real estate and constructed within the last five years (based on certificate of occupancy for the completed construction)

If you believe your property is eligible for an exemption, you can apply at: Exemption requests must be received by March 1 of the reporting year. (ex. Applying for 2020 data exemption? File by March 1, 2020).

How much will compliance cost?

There are no fees associated with using the benchmarking tools (Energy Star Portfolio or Iowa B3 Benchmarking Program) or for submitting the data to the City by May 1. There is a $50 late-fee submission for submittals after May 1. Administrative staff can easily benchmark energy and water usage using utility data with minimal time and cost.

Does the ordinance require mandatory improvements, audits or retrofits?

No. Benchmarking will help building owners obtain information on their property energy and water performance. Building owners can make their own choices about whether and how to save money by becoming more energy efficient.

Are there penalties for non-compliance?

Yes. Late submissions (more than 30 days) will be charged a $50 late fee. Failure to remediate non-compliance within 30 days will result in a $300 violation fee. Subsequent violations will be charged a $500 fee.

How do I get started?

Visit to download the Compliance Checklist and view the online training materials that guide you through the compliance process.

Where can I find my Des Moines Building ID? What do I do with it?

You can find your unique Des Moines Building ID at Use this ID in the “Des Moines Building ID” field of your benchmarking tool.

What tool do I use to benchmark?

You may choose to use either:

  • ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free online tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) that allows you to track and assess energy and water use across your entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment. With Portfolio Manager, you can calculate the building’s energy performance, and compare it with similar buildings and monitor it over time.
  • Iowa B3 Benchmarking Program Benchmarking Program, a free online tool managed by the Iowa Economic Development Authority that provides simple reports using monthly utility billing and some basic facility data. Outputs include displays of energy consumption as if buildings were built to the current energy code, Peer Comparisons, a Baseline view to show variations of energy use between years, energy targets, and reporting.

You do NOT need to use both tools. Use one or the other.

How do I get my energy and water usage information?


If your building has one master MidAmerican energy meter, use your monthly account billing statement to obtain the data needed. If you have multiple MidAmerican energy meters for your building and you have access to all the accounts, use those monthly MidAmerican billing statements to obtain the data needed. MidAmerican Energy has an online customer account portal where you can access your historical monthly statements. Your usage information may also be exported from your “My Account” page at If you do not have a “My Account,” you will need to establish one before exporting usage data.


If your building has one master Des Moines Water Works water meter/account, use that monthly meter/account billing statement to obtain the data needed. If you have multiple water meters/accounts for your building and you have access to all the accounts, use those monthly Des Moines Water Works billing statements to obtain the data needed. You can access your current and historical monthly statements on your online Des Moines Water Works customer account portal at If you have not set this up, you first need to create an online account. If you have questions on how to create an online account, call DMWW customer service at (515) 283-8700.

What if I don't have access to utility bills for all the spaces in my building?

If you do not have access to utility bills for all the spaces in your building, you may take advantage of the aggregated data services provided by MidAmerican Energy and Des Moines Water Works to request whole-building aggregated data at no additional charge. Whole-building aggregated data means that you will be receiving usage data for the entire building and not individualized accounts associated to your building address.

How do I request whole-building aggregated data?

To request whole-building aggregated data follow the steps below:

MidAmerican Energy

  1. Download the Energy Account Aggregation Data Request Form from the City’s Benchmarking Website
  2. Complete the form
  3. Return the completed form via email to

Note: MidAmerican Requires 30 days to process a completed request form.

 Des Moines Water Works

  1. Download the Water Account Aggregation Request Form from the City’s Benchmarking Website or Des Moines Water Works website
  2. Complete the form
  3. Return the completed form via email  - Due by January 31 for each year
    1. DMWW will retain your form on file and will provide the information by April 15 each year. 
    2. A separate form is required for each address and anytime the Owner/Agent information changes.
    3. Forms are due by January 31 of each year.
What if I have multiple meters that make up my whole building information?

If you have access to all the energy accounts and water meters for your building, you may use the monthly billing statements from each account to enter the information needed. If you do not have all the energy accounts and water meters for your building, you should use the whole building aggregated data service.

How does the ordinance apply to multiple buildings with shared energy systems?

If multiple buildings (at least one of which is covered by the ordinance) share one or more energy-consuming systems (ex: boilers, electricity meters, district chilled water, etc.), they may benchmark, and report as a single property across the entire combined floor area of all affected buildings.

Possible exception: If the separate buildings are sub-metered, or if it’s possible to make reasonable calculations / assumptions to allocate energy use to each individual building, the building(s) may benchmark and report separately. Benchmarking each building separately may be the best option if a covered building shares energy-consuming system with a building that would not otherwise be covered by the ordinance (i.e. a 25,000 ft²  building that is covered shares a boiler with an adjacent 5,000 ft²  building that is not covered). This may also be the best option if the buildings in question are owned and/or managed separately.

Note: If multiple buildings with the same owner (such as a campus or multi-building complex) have separate energy consuming systems, any covered buildings (that meet size and use type requirements) should benchmark separately.

How do I benchmark a building that isn't individually metered?

Occasionally, buildings aren't individually metered; one energy or water meter may measure the usage of several buildings. In this case, these buildings should be benchmarked together as a campus. In some cases, buildings not covered by the ordinance may be benchmarked with the buildings that are covered by the ordinance.

How do I report my data to the City?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Users:

  • Click the “Report Data” button at You will be prompted to log into your Portfolio Manager account. Once logged in, you will see instructions for how to submit your data.

Iowa B3 Benchmarking Program Users:

  • Ensure the reporting year data has been entered for all 12 months. Iowa B3 will submit your entered data to the City on May 1.
What will the City do with the data?

The data reported will be made available via the City’s website according to the following timeline:

Initial Data Published to City’s Website:

  • City buildings                                     May 1, 2020
  • Non-city buildings data                     July 1, 2022
Where can I get additional help?

Attend a free hands-on assistance open lab session. All sessions will be held at the Des Moines Central Library computer lab (1000 Grand Ave). Parking is free in the library garage for up to two hours.

Sessions available for Iowa B3 Benchmarking Program users: Hosted by IEDA and Willdan

  • Tuesday, February 4 from 10 AM – 12 PM
  • Thursday, February 6 from 1 PM – 3 PM
  • Tuesday, February 25 from 10 AM – 12 PM
  • Thursday, March 5 from 1 PM – 3 PM

Sessions available for EnergyStar Portfolio Manager users. Hosted by The Energy Group

Now that I've benchmarked, what can I do with this information?

You can use this information to analyze how your building is performing against other similar buildings. Every building is a unique case, however, so an energy audit is the best place to start in order to identify any energy concerns. A low score means that there is significant potential to reduce your utility spending and is an opportunity to not only see savings over time but improve building operations. If you were already considering or needing to replace building mechanical equipment, retrofitting or retro commissioning your building with energy efficient equipment will help improve your score. If you’re not sure where to start or want expert advice, several companies in Des Moines exist to help you assess your needs.

My score seems high, is there any plan for recognition?

Buildings with an Energy Star Score of 75 or over can be certified as an Energy Star Building. If you are interested in pursuing this, please visit:

The City will also be recognizing buildings that are doing a good job being energy and water efficient, as well as recognizing buildings that are making great strides in reducing energy and water waste.


The staff person who benchmarked our facility has left our company; how can we access the property's profile?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager: See the Property sharing guide

Iowa B3 Benchmarking Program: Email Adrienne Ricehill at