The BuildingAdvice Blog

A Faster Way to Benchmark Buildings

Sep 17, 2018 12:12:59 PM / by Jim Crowder

Benchmarking has become universally accepted as a logical and efficient first step in assessing a building’s energy efficiency. For many of our clients it has become an effective way of engaging sales in the front end of the energy services delivery process. Benchmarking provides an indication of relative performance among common building types as well as total energy spend. Often used in the survey process of both service contract and equipment upgrade sales, it is a great way to quickly qualify buildings in the commercial environment.

While there are many different types of benchmarking tools available, Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager (ESPM) is the predominant tool used for this function. Its breadth of buildings, years of existence and the power of its data normalization combine to make it the “go to” tool for our industry.

However, like any tool, it has its limitations. Over time we saw patterns of sales adoption of the benchmarking process. 

With no technical resource on staff to run interference, salespeople in certain situations became frustrated by the need to:

  1. Acquire 13 months of utility bills
  2. Identify meter data
  3. Get building inputs which vary by building type (e.g. # beds in hospitals, cooking facilities Y/N?, etc.)

So we embarked on a project to achieve similar objectives (qualification of building opportunities with minimal sales effort), with far less time and effort. That effort culminated in a product we now call the Energy Scorecard.

Unlike ESPM and all the data that needs to be gathered, the Scorecard only needs 2 of the following:

  1. Total fuel and/or electricity annual spend (not individual bills)
  2. Total fuel and/or electricity annual consumption
  3. Per unit charge for fuel and/or electricity ($/kwh/therms)

In addition we need to know:

  1. Total square footage
  2. Type of building
  3. Zip code

With these limited inputs we can generate a one-page report that ranks your building vis a vis the same building types nationally using building EUI scores, the Energy Usage Index that leverages the same data set as ESPM. An EUI is the combination of electricity and/or fuel expressed as kBtu divided by the square footage of the facility, so kBtu/square footage becomes the new metric for ranking relative performance nationally. Comparing a building’s actual consumption to national median performance and “dollarizing” the financial performance gap enables sales to start the conversation when combined with other findings from your survey process.

EUI comparison

As it relates to Project Sales, the simplicity of this approach lends itself well to a campaign to proactively target your base to begin harvesting projects. It’s a great exercise for project sales teams to engage their base to offer capital planning services. The Scorecard could be the early deliverable to start a discussion about how you can engage with clients to help them get out in front of their capital planning process.

Identifying their total spend and how that ranks against a national data set of similar building types provides an early indication of where the opportunities may lie and whether or not eliminating energy inefficiency could help underwrite the cost of upgrades. Using the Scorecard we get a lot of the information needed to qualify whether it warrants to go further in your process without tying up your time or wasting valuable technical resources.

savings graph

So, benchmarking is a great way to engage your sales team to gain scale to qualify accounts and get their heads in the game. Making the process simpler increases sales acceptance based on the value generated from minimal effort. This is not only the on ramp to a sales process but can also be the on ramp for ensuring your service-based business begins to change culture to embrace energy consumption reduction as part of your core value proposition.

To learn more about the BuildingAdvice Energy Scorecard or to receive a FREE Scorecard for any of your client's buildings, Click Here.

Topics: Energy Savings, capital planning, Project Sales, energy efficiency, Energy Benchmarking, Energy Star, preventive maintenance

Jim Crowder

Written by Jim Crowder