What Are Building Performance Standards?

Building Performance Standards (BPS) are policies that require commercial and multifamily buildings to meet certain performance levels, typically for energy use or greenhouse gas emissions. Each local or state government that implements a BPS customizes the requirements to fit its needs, but in general, a BPS contains:

  • A performance target. For example, a jurisdiction may require buildings to meet a specific level of energy use per square foot and/or other level of performance.
  • A timeframe by which all buildings must meet this target. For example, a jurisdiction may require that all buildings meet this target by December 2050, with interim goals in 2030 and 2040. Many laws include alternative paths to compliance, and there are penalties for buildings that fail to reach the target.

Standards for Energy Efficiency, Emissions, and More

A jurisdiction can address multiple goals through a combination of BPS and complementary policies:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Greenhouse gas emissions reductions
  • Electrification (i.e. switching from natural gas and other fuel sources to electricity)
  • Renewable energy
  • Water efficiency

Building Performance Standards Regulate Existing Buildings

Building Performance Standards are a relatively new policy tool. Most states or cities across the country have comprehensive policies in place to ensure that newly constructed buildings meet certain requirements. But new buildings are only a small piece of the pie. Building Performance Standards are aimed at improving the energy performance of existing buildings, which provide the greatest opportunity for immediate improvement. However, since all new buildings will become subject to these standards once they are occupied, owners and architects of new buildings should design them with future building performance standards in mind.


See a list of current policies: The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) maintains a map of current city, state, and county policies.

For policymakers: EPA has tools to help you develop and implement successful BPS policies. We already provide ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, the free online software platform on which all state and local benchmarking and disclosure policies run, and we have new tools and resources available to assist with BPS policies.

For building owners and managers: Reach out to your state or local government for more information about BPS policies that may affect you. Or, learn more about: