What is Energy Benchmarking?

What is Energy Benchmarking?

As the building sector is the largest consumer of energy in the US (using 40-50% of American energy generated), many cities and states aiming to increase their "green" reputation have started here. Without a baseline for comparison, though, it was difficult to determine which buildings were the biggest energy guzzlers. Enter benchmarking. The EPA developed an online resource, Portfolio Manager, as an expansion of its Energy Star brand--best known for identifying energy efficient appliances--that allows building owners and managers to track their energy use. In Portfolio Manager, the data is standardized for building size and normalized for weather. Many buildings are also given an Energy Star score based on how efficiently they use energy compared to other buildings of the same type. For example, an office building that receives an Energy Star score of 60 is performing better than 60% of office buildings across the US. Buildings with an Energy Star score of 75 or above may qualify for Energy Star certification, a coveted designation that publicizes stellar energy efficiency work.

With Portfolio Manager at their disposal, a growing number of cities (beginning with Austin and Washington, D.C. in 2008) have implemented benchmarking policies or ordinances that require buildings over a certain size to track their energy use.

Cities with Benchmarking Ordinances

Below is a map of cities and states with benchmarking requirements or voluntary programs.


Benefits of Benchmarking

Benchmarking ordinances can help cities and states reach their sustainability goals. When buildings are benchmarked, target areas for energy reduction can be easily identified. In the first year after it implemented its ordinance (2012), New York City discovered that most buildings with the highest energy use by square foot (Energy Use Intensity, or EUI) were located in just a few zip codes. The city also found that two building sectors, multifamily homes and offices, used the vast majority of energy in the city. Boston found that office buildings built between 1950 and 1970 had the highest EUIs of any offices in the city. With information like this, cities and states can focus their sustainability efforts on areas where they will see the greatest impact.

2018 Top 10 Cities for Energy Efficient Buildings

The cities below had the most Energy Star certified buildings (with an Energy Star score of 75 or above) in 2018:

Energy Star Energy Efficient Buildings by City.png

How does Benchmarking Affect Your Business?

No matter where your business is located, there are benefits to having your energy use benchmarked. Tracking your energy consumption in Energy Star Portfolio Manager allows you to see how energy efficient your building is compared to others around the country. With expert advice, you can identify ways to reduce energy consumption and save money on utility bills. And if you have an Energy Star score of 75 or higher, you likely qualify for Energy Star certification, a coveted designation that can set your business apart. If your business is in a city or state with a benchmarking ordinance, you may have already begun tracking your energy use. However, some benchmarking ordinances are complex, and complying with them may require additional assistance. Energy consulting firms, like Satori Energy, can help you with all of your benchmarking needs--from initial energy tracking to ensuring compliance with ordinances to Energy Star certification.

Satori Energy