Congratulations – you’ve entered your building data into Portfolio Manager! The act of benchmarking can stimulate increased awareness of energy use and this has been shown to produce energy use savings of up to seven percent in a three year period.  However, achieving significant reductions often requires action beyond tackling the lowest-hanging fruit.

ENERGY STAR offers a suite of resources that go beyond benchmarking to explain concrete strategies and steps that can be implemented right away improve building energy performance to professionals of all backgrounds.

  • The ENERGY STAR Guidelines for Energy Management presents a step-by-step road map for continuous improvement, based on best practices from the nations’ leaders in energy management.
  • The Building Upgrade Manual is a comprehensive guide to profitable energy efficiency upgrades presented in an easy-to-understand framework designed especially for ENERGY STAR partners.
  • Use the Cash Flow Opportunity Calculator to get answers to critical questions, such as:
    • How much new energy efficiency equipment can be purchased from the anticipated savings?
    • Should this equipment purchase be financed now, or is it better to wait and use cash from a future budget?
    • Is money being lost by waiting for a lower interest rate?

The next stops on your quest for building energy efficiency: energy audits and building operator training.

Energy Efficiency Audits 

Energy audits are a more detailed analysis of energy usage within a building or facility and its contained equipment. Also known as energy assessments, audits are a powerful way to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of a facility as they target the building as a whole. The results of the analysis are recommendations for building energy efficiency improvement measures and operational changes as well as a financial analysis for each identified measure.

According to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, outcomes of an audit may include:

  • No-cost operational or maintenance adjustments that will save energy
  • Short-term, low-cost energy efficiency retrofit recommendations
  • Action plans for energy efficiency capital investments
  • Comfort and code issues that can be addressed immediately
  • Opportunities for better adherence to lighting and comfort standards
  • Specific opportunities for savings, weigh costs against benefits, and prioritize investments

ASHRAE defines three levels of energy audits: Level 1 is a walk through of the facility, Level 3 is a comprehensive evaluation of the totality of a building’s systems (which also requires energy modeling) and Level 2 falls between Levels 1 and 3.  Investment grade audits are most often at the Level 3 category as it requires the calculation of the capital cost and expected return on capital invested for each energy efficiency measure recommended.

Preliminary Energy-Use Analysis. ASHRAE's Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits

For  more information about the building energy audit process, download the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory publication, Guide to Energy Audits and the ASHRAE publication, Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits.

Energy Efficiency Training

By benchmarking building energy usage and sharing and implementing efficiency measures and best practices, organizations can save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, track utility usage and improve facility performance to create a healthier and more productive work environment.  The challenge of continuing to operate and maintain facilities  is ongoing and will only be solved through continuous measurement and verification, data management, reporting and benchmarking and proper training of facility staff.

The successful implementation of energy efficiency programs throughout all sectors hinges on the skills of building managers and operators.  A well-trained workforce is important in operating commercial, manufacturing and institutional buildings, which have increasingly sophisticated controls. From learning the details of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manger to gaining expertise and technical skills that improve facility energy performance, building performance can be measured, monitored and reported in a consistent manner by trained operations staff.

Various industry-related organizations are committed to providing the education, training and resources for building operators to sustainably manage, operate and maintain facility assets. View examples of building energy efficiency training programs on the Resources page.

 

Image credit: VisitHouston.com