Oct 23, 2019 | Trends, Sustainability

The Value of Energy Benchmarking

Energy benchmarking is a key part of a building’s efficiency plan. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 5.6 million commercial buildings covering about 87.1 billion square feet of floor space account for nearly 20% of energy consumption in the United States. Employing energy conservation measures in commercial buildings has been shown to reduce energy consumption by as much as 30%. By managing energy usage, commercial building stakeholders can achieve significant savings in their operating costs.

Benchmarking is the practice of analyzing building energy usage over time and comparing it to past performance and to similar buildings in the same geographic area. Benchmarking is useful to building managers to evaluate usage and savings opportunities and to analyze the cost effectiveness of conservation measures implemented. Research shows that the practice of benchmarking buildings increases awareness and focus on energy efficiency and building owners who monitor benchmarking data have consistently reduced the building energy usage by an average of 2.4% per year.

Benchmarking is the foundation to an organization’s energy management. More government and financing programs require energy benchmarking as part of a building’s occupancy reporting. As energy conservation and environmental awareness become more and more prevalent, benchmarking is becoming standard practice in smart building management.

Energy Reporting and Compliance

Commercial buildings must comply with state or city legislature that requires annual energy reporting. Often, compliance can be achieved using one of the many benchmarking tools that are available from simple spreadsheets to web-based tools. The most prevalent tool used is the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Tool. The software produces an Energy Score between one and one hundred with one hundred being the most efficient. The second output of Portfolio Manager is the Site and Source Energy Use Intensity (EIU) of the building. This is compared to similar building types within a geographic region. Owners can compare the building’s performance against others to identify excesses.

Energy Benchmarking Plan

It is important to establish a benchmarking plan. The plan should identify the goal for benchmarking and who the report will be created for. Energy service providers can advise on best suited tools for the purpose of benchmarking. Albireo Energy incorporates benchmarking into the building’s overall Energy Efficiency Plan. Any efficiency measures implemented based on the overall plan need to be monitored and benchmarked to ensure success and savings in the operating costs of the building.

Energy Efficiency Plan

Benchmarking is a key part of a building’s energy efficiency plan. To devise successful strategies, it requires expertise and experience in all aspects of energy management. Albireo Energy recognizes that the value of gathering historical and current data is as important as proper implementation. Continuous monitoring and targeted analytics provide insights into progress and detriments of system performance in relation to the projected plan. Benchmarking data supplies a current snapshot of system performance and patterns of usage over time that can lead owners to smarter decision making.

Social Responsibility and Conservation

The benefits to the environment from reducing energy usage are commonly known. In the commercial sector, reducing costs is a priority, but targeting energy use reduction can achieve both environmental and economic goals.

Benchmarking will definitely provide the data for building managers to understand the best places to invest capital and time. But better than that, benchmarking is a best practice that will lead to reducing wasted energy. A socially and economically responsible practice that can only create positive change but will also impact a company’s brand in the best possible way.

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