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Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS)

About the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey

The Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) is a national sample survey that collects information on the stock of U.S. commercial buildings, including their energy-related building characteristics and energy usage data (consumption and expenditures). Commercial buildings include all buildings in which at least half of the floorspace is used for a purpose that is not residential, industrial, or agricultural. By this definition, CBECS includes building types that might not traditionally be considered commercial, such as schools, hospitals, correctional institutions, and buildings used for religious worship, in addition to traditional commercial buildings such as stores, restaurants, warehouses, and office buildings.

CBECS is conducted in two phases:

Phase 1 is the Buildings Survey, where CBECS interviewers collect building characteristics and energy usage data (consumption and costs) from a respondent at the building. If the building respondent cannot supply the required energy usage data during the interview, they give their energy provider's name and account numbers instead; then EIA moves on to Phase 2.

Only about half of the sampled building respondents cannot provide their own energy data.

Phase 2 is the Energy Supplier Survey (ESS), which is a follow-up survey of the energy providers for buildings without accurate energy data from the Buildings Survey. We will be contacting providers of electricity, natural gas, heating oil (which includes fuel oil, kerosene, and diesel), and district heat (steam or hot water) to collect the needed energy usage data. The energy data are collected using a secure website that offers several reporting options designed to minimize reporting burden.

The first CBECS was conducted in 1979; the tenth CBECS (the most recent survey) was fielded starting in April 2013 to provide data for calendar year 2012.

Users of the CBECS data are diverse. Among many others, they include:

    • Building owners and managers (for benchmarking)
    • Energy modelers (for forecasting)
    • Product developers (to gauge market potential)
    • Government leaders (to formulate policy)
    • Energy Star (as the foundation for their rating system targets)

Questions about CBECS may be directed to:

Joelle Michaels
Survey Manager