HIGH PERFORMING BUILDINGS SERIES: THE BASICS OF BENCHMARKING
Throughout the process of energy optimization or systems optimization, Benchmarking is a useful process to understand potential opportunity for improvements, as well as measure progress from the successes from implementation.
THERE ARE THREE MAIN WAYS TO BENCHMARK A BUILDING:
1. COMPARING A BUILDING AGAINST ITSELF AT A PREVIOUS TIME
In this case we will look at a building’s consumption in the current year compared to a previous year. If the consumption has greatly increased, this may indicate recent inefficiencies that need to be investigated and optimized. This is similar to your yearly physical at the doctor’s office where changes may indicate underlying health problems that need to be addressed.
On the other hand, successful optimization can also be verified by measuring progress over time. AtSite can also normalize for weather conditions to account for the effects of temperature changes on consumption, allowing for more accurate comparisons.
2. COMPARING A BUILDING TO OTHER SIMILAR BUILDINGS
This could mean comparing to a national average, or to other buildings in your portfolio. If buildings are identified to have consumption or spend much greater than its peers, this would indicate opportunities for optimization exist at this building.
AtSite Solutions works with a number of large portfolios and this method is often used to focus attention to the underperforming buildings, helping these buildings catch up to the rest of the portfolio.
In addition to looking at spend or consumption, the same benchmarking process can be done for individual metrics such as energy rates, where buildings with greater costs can be identified. If it is found that a building is paying much more for energy than the state or portfolio average, reviewing the current procurement contract might result in large cost savings.
3. COMPARING A BUILDING TO AN IDEAL CASE
Buildings can be aspirational too! In this case buildings are compared to a target level of consumption or spend. Buildings that are furthest from this threshold are addressed and optimized first to ultimately bring all buildings up to this ideal level.
A common example of this is Energy Star. Buildings can set a target of 75, the Energy Star certification score, and work towards achieving this goal. The Energy Star score also allows comparison to a previous time and is, by definition, a comparison to other similar buildings – it is a very effective way to Benchmark your building!
AtSite Solutions uses a number of tools on the InSite platform to Benchmark. In InSite the above three methods are easily visualized, and opportunities or any progress is made obvious as data is trended over many months. This is based on monthly utility data and is best used to supplement more detailed data either from interval metering or a BAS connection, necessary for the energy or systems optimization process.
Benchmarking is a first and important step on the path to optimization. Contact AtSite to see where your building stands.