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Boulder Building Performance Efficiency Requirements

Boulder Building Performance Efficiency Requirements


The City of Boulder is committed to its core value of community safety and is proactively taking steps to limit the community spread of COVID-19. Given the current pandemic situation, the city has extended the deadline for compliance with BPO’s Rating and Reporting requirement for buildings sized 20,000 square feet and up.

September 1, 2020 is the new deadline for compliance with BPO’s Rating and Reporting requirement for the January 1 to December 31, 2019 time period. Official Notices of Affected Properties have been mailed.

Efficiency Requirements

The Building Performance Ordinance requires each affected commercial and industrial building owner to implement efficiency actions over a phased timeline. These actions are:

  1. Perform Energy Assessments Every 10 Years;
  2. Implement One-time Lighting Upgrades;
  3. Perform Retrocommissioning (RCx) Every 10 Years;
  4. Implement Cost Effective RCx Measures.  


The efficiency requirements are phased in based on building size with  June 1  deadlines of the year listed below. 

Requirement Existing Buildings ≥ 50,000 sf, New Buildings 1  ≥ 10,000 sf, City Buildings ≥ 5,000 sf Existing Buildings ≥ 30,000 sf Existing Buildings ≥ 20,000 sf
Energy Assessments 2019 2021 2023
Lighting Upgrades 2021 2023 2025
Retrocommissioning 2021 2023 2025
Implement Cost Effective RCx Measures 2023 2025 2027

1 New Construction Buildings are those permitted since January 2014.


Energy Assessments

Every ten years, affected building owners must perform energy assessments that meet or exceed the requirements below per the Standard for Commercial Building Energy Audits as published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in 2018 ( Standard 211 ), and as updated periodically.

Building Size Energy Assessment Required Scope
Buildings < 50,000 SF     ASHRAE Level I assessment (Also offered by Xcel Energy, will comply)
Buildings ≥ 50,000 SF     ASHRAE Level II assessment (Not currently offered by a local utility, Xcel Energy audits do not comply)

Note: For manufacturing buildings, an electrical utility’s process efficiency assessments and studies can meet this requirement, if the scope is approved by the City Manager.

Report Templates

Report templates are available that include current ASHRAE requirements and City Manager Rule requirements to ensure compliance with the ordinance. The use of these templates is not required, however they can be a reference to ensure all requirements are included in the report. 

*Note: If completing the Level I Energy Assessment through Xcel Energy's Onsite Energy Audit Program, that report will suffice for compliance.

Cost Saving Opportunities

Level I Energy Assessments

  • Xcel Energy offers an Onsite Energy Audit* for a small fee. These audits will be accepted for compliance with the Level I requirement of the ordinance as long as the audit covers both electricity and natural gas equipment. 

Level II Energy Assessments

  • Buildings 50,000 SF and larger must provide the capital to complete a Level II assessment. Because these are not offered by a local utility, to help offset these costs, the city is offering rebates for buildings required to complete a Level II energy assessment. 

*Verify current program status at



Lighting Upgrades

Affected building owners must complete one-time lighting upgrades that meet specific energy codes for interior and exterior lighting power, controls and sensors as outlined below. 

Lighting Requirement Code Code Section
Occupancy Sensor Controls 2017 COBECC C405.2.2.2
Time-switch Controls 2017 COBECC C405.2.2.1
Exterior Lighting Controls 2017 COBECC C405.2.4
Interior Lighting - Power 2017 COBECC C405.5
Exterior Lighting - Power 2012 IECC C405.6

2012 IECC= 2012 International Energy Conservation Code

2017 COBECC = 2017 City of Boulder Energy Conservation Code pdf

Electrical Permit

If lighting upgrades are necessary to meet compliance, an electrical permit may be required. To ensure your lighting project is reviewed against the BPO lighting requirement (and not the entire City of Boulder code), ensure you submit the  Building Performance Ordinance Checklist and Electrical Permit pdf together to  Planning & Development Services .

Cost Saving Opportunities

Lighting rebates may be available through Xcel Energy and Boulder County PACE . Connect with a PACE Business Sustainability Advisor at Boulder County to identify applicable rebates. Call 303-786-7223 or email [email protected]

BPO and the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance

Building owners are encouraged to ensure any lighting upgrades completed for the Building Performance Ordinance on the exterior of the building also meet the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance requirements. The Outdoor Lighting Ordinance of 9-9-16 B.R.C. 1981, includes specific lighting standards that apply to all new development and newly proposed exterior lighting. Additionally, 9-9-16 also contains thresholds for incremental compliance (based on cumulative project valuation compared to existing structure valuation) that must be addressed at the time of building permit application for work that triggers such lighting improvements. Lastly, the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance includes an amortization deadline requiring compliance of all exterior lighting by Nov. 2018.

The BPO lighting deadlines begin in 2021 based on building size. However, with the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance amortization deadline in Nov. of 2018, owners are encouraged to comply with both ordinance lighting requirements at the same time to capture economies of scale and realize cost savings for the exterior lighting upgrades required by both ordinances. 



Retrocommissioning & Implementing RCx Measures

Every ten years, affected building owners must perform retrocommissioning, a process that improves the efficiency of existing building operations by “tuning up” and calibrating existing functional systems to run as efficiently as possible through low- or no-cost improvements.

Owners must implement the cost-effective measures (any measure with a payback period of two years or less with rebates) identified through retrocommissioning within two years of the study.

The scope of the requirements depends on the size of the building as shown below.

Building Size RCx Scope
Buildings < 50,000 SF Owners can participate in the  Xcel Energy Building Tune-Up Program  or meet the scope docx outlined in the City Manager Rules
Buildings ≥ 50,000 SF Owners can participate in the  Xcel Energy RCx Study Program  or meet the scope docx outlined in the City Manager Rules
  • Building owners must use a Qualified Service Provider to complete the retrocommissioning study.
  • Review the RCx Checklist pdf to prepare for compliance.
  • Submit the final RCx report and a copy of the Xcel Recommissioning/Building Tune-up Rebate Application through the online Submission Form .
  • Submit proof of measure installation through the online submission form Coming Soon.

Report Templates

If completing the RCx study through Xcel Energy's Building Tune-up or RCx Study Programs, the program report AND a copy of the Xcel Recommissioning/Building Tune-up Rebate Application will suffice for compliance.

If completing the RCx study through a third-party service provider, a report outline docx is available for reference. 


Cost Saving Opportunities

Retrocommissioning Study

Cost saving opportunities may be available through participation in Xcel Energy's programs. 

There may also be opportunities to realize cost savings through implementing services concurrently (e.g. completing the energy assessment and retrocommissioning study at the same time). Work with your service provider to determine if there are opportunities to capture economies of scale.

*Verify current program status at


Measure Implementation

Prescriptive and custom rebates may be available through Xcel Energy  a nd Boulder County PACE  to reduce the costs of measure upgrades.