Benchmarking Energy Use and Tools for Energy Management

This post is your guide to benchmarking energy usage in your building! A crucial part of building an effective energy management system is tracking and analyzing your building energy performance.

Aggressive Energy is committed to helping our clients make the most sustainable choices for their energy consumption and their budget. Whether you’re just looking for energy benchmarking services or want to create an electricity plan that makes energy compliance easy, we’re here to help!

Read on to learn how to benchmark energy use, the benefits, and building benchmarking software!

What is Energy Benchmarking?

What is Energy Benchmarking

Energy benchmarking is the process of calculating and recording a building’s energy consumption. This data is then compared to its previous energy consumption levels and to the national average for similar buildings. Building owners use benchmarking to help themselves and their occupants understand the different ways in which they consume energy as well as identify areas they could practice energy conservation.

Internal vs. external energy benchmarking

Benchmarking for energy efficiency is classified as either internal or external. Internal energy benchmarking is the process of making comparisons within a single organization in order to define a baseline and best practices. External energy benchmarking is used to evaluate organizations in the same or a similar industry sector in order to determine which companies perform best in class.

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How to Benchmark Energy For Buildings

It’s important to plan out a methodical approach to building energy benchmarking. Planning ahead is key to creating a benchmarking process you can rely on for years to come. The goal of developing a benchmark plan is to define the desired outcome of its execution and of its results. What do you hope goes well during the benchmarking process? What do you hope to avoid? What do you anticipate the results of your building’s energy benchmark report to be, and what’s your best and worst-case scenario? These are all questions you should be sure to ask yourself. Here are three steps to help you benchmark energy for your building.

Delegate and communicate

The energy benchmarking plan should include the benchmarking team members involved, their role, relevant details on the data collection process, and the plan’s implementation. Developing a detailed benchmarking strategy and presenting it to team members effectively helps everyone involved to understand what’s expected of them, the importance of benchmarking, and keeps everyone on the same page. Additionally, make sure that staff members are trained, as this is one of the most effective strategies to assure high-quality reporting from the start.

Choose Your Energy Benchmarking Tool

energy benchmarking tool

Benchmarking and energy tracking solutions can be as simple as spreadsheets or as complex as custom-built web-based platforms. The selection of a benchmarking tool should be decided based on the data requirements for tracking progress toward the benchmarking program’s objective. If you aren’t sure which energy benchmarking software is compatible with your needs and budget, contact us at Aggressive Energy and we’ll get you set up for success through our Energy Solutions 360 platform! 

Collect and organize data

The first step in collecting data is identifying what areas you actually need data on. This typically requires an energy audit to identify any quirks or need-to-know information about how your building and its appliances operate and consume energy. Before you begin collecting data, be sure to come up with specific goals and questions you want the data to be able to answer. This will help you make the most efficient use of time and give your data collection some much-needed structure.

Keep in mind you’ll need to collect both internal and external data. External data can be gathered through the use of energy benchmarking tools such as ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Internal and external data sources combine to provide businesses and property managers with the information they need to make sound energy management decisions.

Verify results

After data collection is complete, it’s time to verify the quality of your energy benchmarking results. This is the phase where you double-check for accuracy. First, verify the small things such as having the appropriate facility type selected and that facility names are all accurate (i.e. remove any sample facilities). Then, filter results for any energy usage intensity scores that are surprisingly high or low in relation to the national median as recorded by the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, or CBECS.

There will be certain areas of your benchmarking report where you aren’t able to verify 100% accuracy, so it’s a good idea to have a system in place that will fill in gaps wherever needed. It also wouldn’t hurt to hire a third party to perform the final onsite verification, especially if you’re new to building energy benchmarking and/or have a lot of data to cover.

Interpreting Your Building Energy Performance Benchmarks

Analyze Building Energy Performance Benchmarks

When done effectively, energy data benchmarking and an analysis of its results provide insight into the effect of operations on energy use and consumption. Be sure to document energy usage in a way that’s useful and intuitive for everyone in your organization to understand. Choose a format that works for you and your team, whether that be something as straightforward as a graph depicting the building’s energy use or something a little more complicated like a statistical model.

In order to fully comprehend your benchmarking results, use the baseline of building energy performance and the expectations you established beforehand. This is something you’ll need to do every time so that you accurately track your building’s improvements (or lack thereof).

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Benefits of Energy Benchmarking

business energy benchmarking

Benchmarking the energy performance of commercial buildings is a critical component of an organization’s energy management plan because you can’t manage or improve something you don’t have details on. Benefits of energy use reporting include:

  • Detailed, verified information on energy consumption and areas of energy use
  • Increased general consciousness of energy efficiency and improved usage behaviors among building occupants
  • Identifies what areas of energy consumption need improvement
  • Identifies what areas of energy consumption are working well and can be replicated
  • Makes energy compliance easier
  • Short-term and long-term savings

Energy reporting is a reliable energy management technique that has been shown to have a positive – and reasonably quick – impact on your bottom line and ensures your business comes out on top.

At Aggressive Energy, we’ve got the dedication and resources to set you up for success. We’ll help you create a building energy benchmarking process and establish an energy management system (or re-assess all of the above) to help you meet your sustainability and financial goals. Contact us today!