9 Steps on How to Benchmark Energy For Buildings and Benefits

Benchmarking Energy
Benchmarking Energy

Energy use benchmarking is a process of comparing and evaluating the energy performance of buildings, systems, or processes against established standards or benchmarks. It is a valuable tool for identifying energy-saving opportunities, setting energy efficiency goals, and tracking progress over time. In this article, we will explore the concept of energy use benchmarking and delve into various tools and technologies available for effective energy management.

We will discuss the benefits of benchmarking energy use, the key components of a successful benchmarking program, and highlight some of the popular tools and techniques used in the field of energy management. Whether you are a facility manager, energy consultant, or simply interested in reducing your energy consumption, this article will provide you with insights into benchmarking energy use and utilizing tools for energy management.

What is Energy Benchmarking?

Energy benchmarking is a process of comparing and evaluating the energy performance of a building, system, or process against established standards or benchmarks. It involves collecting and analyzing data related to energy consumption, energy costs, and other relevant metrics to assess the energy efficiency of a building or system. Benchmarking can be done for various types of buildings, including commercial, industrial, residential, and institutional buildings.

Energy benchmarking provides a quantitative measure of the energy performance of a building or system, which can be used to identify areas of improvement, set energy efficiency goals, track progress over time, and make informed decisions on energy management strategies. It can help building owners, facility managers, energy managers, and other stakeholders to understand how their building or system is performing in comparison to similar buildings or industry standards.

How to Benchmark Energy For Buildings

Benchmarking energy for buildings typically involves the following steps:

1. Define the Scope

Determine the scope of the benchmarking effort, which may include one or more buildings, specific energy systems or processes within the building, or a portfolio of buildings. Clarify the purpose and objectives of the benchmarking exercise, such as identifying areas of improvement, setting energy efficiency goals, or tracking progress over time.

2. Collect Data

Gather relevant data related to energy consumption, energy costs, and building characteristics. This data can be obtained from utility bills, energy management systems, building automation systems, or other sources. It may include information on electricity, natural gas, water, and other energy sources used in the building.

3. Normalize Data

Normalize the data to account for factors such as weather, occupancy, and operating hours, which can affect energy consumption. This is done to ensure a fair comparison among buildings or systems with different characteristics.

4. Calculate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Analyze the collected data to calculate key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to the benchmarking objectives. Common KPIs used in energy benchmarking include energy use intensity (EUI), energy cost per square foot, energy consumption by end-use (e.g., lighting, HVAC, plug loads), or other relevant metrics.

5. Compare with Benchmarks or Standards

Compare the calculated KPIs with established benchmarks or standards to assess the energy performance of the building or system. Benchmarks can be industry-specific standards, historical data from similar buildings, or energy performance targets set by organizations such as ENERGY STAR, LEED, or other recognized authorities.

6. Identify Opportunities for Improvement

Analyze the benchmarking results to identify areas of improvement and energy-saving opportunities. This may include identifying buildings or systems that are performing below the benchmarks, pinpointing energy-intensive areas or processes, or identifying outliers that require further investigation.

7. Develop an Action Plan

Based on the benchmarking results, develop an action plan to implement energy management strategies and measures to improve the energy performance of the building or system. This may involve energy retrofits, operational changes, behavior modifications, or other energy-saving initiatives. Prioritize the identified opportunities based on their potential impact, feasibility, and cost-effectiveness.

8. Implement and Monitor

Implement the action plan and monitor the energy performance of the building or system over time to track progress and measure the effectiveness of the implemented measures. Periodic benchmarking can be performed to assess the impact of energy management efforts and identify further opportunities for improvement.

9. Review and Update

Review and update the benchmarking results and action plan periodically to account for changes in building operations, energy prices, weather patterns, or other relevant factors. Continuously monitor and update the benchmarking efforts to ensure ongoing energy performance improvement.

Note: It is important to ensure data accuracy, integrity, and privacy when collecting and analyzing energy data for benchmarking purposes. Follow relevant data protection and privacy regulations and use reliable data sources to ensure the accuracy and validity of benchmarking results.

Benefits of Energy Benchmarking

Energy benchmarking offers several benefits for buildings and organizations, including:

1. Identifying Energy Performance Opportunities

Benchmarking allows building owners, facility managers, and energy managers to compare the energy performance of their buildings or systems against established benchmarks or standards. This helps in identifying areas of improvement and energy-saving opportunities, such as identifying energy-intensive areas or processes, pinpointing outliers, or identifying under-performing buildings or systems.

2. Setting Energy Efficiency Goals

Benchmarking results can be used to set realistic energy efficiency goals for buildings or systems. By comparing the energy performance of a building against benchmarks or standards, organizations can establish targets for reducing energy consumption, improving energy efficiency, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Tracking Progress and Performance

Benchmarking provides a quantitative measure of energy performance, which allows organizations to track progress over time. Regular benchmarking assessments can help measure the effectiveness of implemented energy management measures, identify trends, and track improvements in energy efficiency and cost savings.

4. Informing Decision Making

Benchmarking results can inform decision making related to energy management strategies and measures. Organizations can use benchmarking data to prioritize energy-saving opportunities. It allocate resources effectively, and make informed decisions about energy retrofits, operational changes, behavior modifications, and other energy-saving initiatives.

5. Improving Financial Performance

Energy benchmarking can help organizations identify opportunities to reduce energy costs, which can lead to improved financial performance. By optimizing energy use and improving energy efficiency, organizations can reduce energy expenses, lower operating costs, and increase profitability.

6. Enhancing Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility

Energy benchmarking supports sustainability efforts by helping organizations reduce their environmental footprint. By improving energy performance and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, organizations can contribute to environmental sustainability, demonstrate corporate social responsibility, and enhance their reputation as environmentally responsible entities.

7. Meeting Regulatory and Compliance Requirements

Benchmarking can help organizations comply with energy-related regulations and requirements. Many jurisdictions have implemented energy disclosure and reporting mandates that require buildings to benchmark their energy performance. Benchmarking results can help organizations meet these regulatory requirements and avoid potential penalties or fines.

8. Engaging Stakeholders

Benchmarking can foster engagement and collaboration among building owners, facility managers, tenants, employees, and other stakeholders. By involving stakeholders in the benchmarking process, organizations can raise awareness about energy performance. It can promote energy-saving behaviors, and encourage a culture of sustainability within the organization.

Conclusion

Energy benchmarking is a valuable tool for evaluating and improving the energy performance of buildings or systems. It involves collecting and analyzing energy data, comparing the performance against established benchmarks or standards, identifying opportunities for improvement, and implementing energy management strategies to optimize energy use and reduce costs.

The benefits of energy benchmarking include identifying energy-saving opportunities. It sets energy efficiency goals, tracking progress and performance, informing decision making, improving financial performance, enhancing sustainability efforts, meeting regulatory requirements, and engaging stakeholders. By leveraging energy benchmarking, organizations can make informed decisions, optimize energy performance, and contribute to a more sustainable future.