Posted by: Green Building Hawaii, 25 Aug, 2013
Since 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) has used the voluntary labeling program ENERGY STAR, to measure the efficiency of everything from major appliances, office equipment, lighting, and home electronics, to large scale items like new homes and commercial and industrial buildings and plants. For the latter, ENERGY STAR produced the Portfolio Manager tool, “ an online tool you can use to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. (EPA)” This tool has become the industry standard, touting 40% of total US commercial building space having been benchmarked via the Portfolio Manager tool. As the popular saying goes, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” and it has been proven by over 100,000 buildings that benchmarking a building is the first step in better managing operating costs and making lasting building improvements.
There are many reasons why so many commercial building operators choose to benchmark their buildings using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool; but the most obvious one is that it saves money. In fact, the EPA estimates that buildings that consistently benchmark save an average of 2.4 percent. The important thing to realize is that those savings estimates are simply based on benchmarking a property, and can be achieved regardless of achieving an ENERGY STAR score or not (EPA). Pursuing an ENERGY STAR certification, which has been proven to not only decrease building operating costs, but also increase asset value and make building more marketable, is another proven way for building operators to upgrade their properties. Also, there are third party green building certifications, such as LEED for existing buildings, that are using the ENERGY STAR score as part of their required metrics, meaning that benchmarking a property is becoming increasingly valuable and recognizable. A final, and very important, driving force in the benchmarking movement is the adoption of mandatory benchmarking policies in major cities. New York, Boston and Seattle are among the major cities already seeing results from such programs. Most notable among buildings that have benefited from such programs is the Empire State Building, which managed to save 4.4 Million dollars per year on energy costs. In Hawaii, a study on benchmarking commercial buildings on Oahu, documented savings of close to 80 million kWh for commercial buildings that had been benchmarked.
Recently, in July of 2013, the EPA updated the Portfolio Manager online tool, to allow for more streamlined data sharing and a user-friendlier interface. Although the metrics have remained the same, the upgraded tool does include new weather map data, making it more location specific than ever before. Also equipped with easier data entry, better reporting, and new performance tracking features, the use and popularity of this tool is projected to continue to increase. If you are interested in knowing more about the new features of Portfolio Manager, click here.
Green Building Hawaii is an experienced and certified ENERGY STAR partner offering commercial energy audits, and energy rating services. We can assist clients to effectively measure building energy usage, and support the development and implementation of a plan to lower operating costs and achieve third-party certifications. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on the advantages of benchmarking your hotel, office building, school, or other property.