Benchmark Before You Audit

by Jason Steinbock

August 31, 2016

We’re seeing a growing trend in cities throughout the nation: mandating energy benchmarking as a way to achieve aggressive energy and carbon emissions reduction. We applaud the use of energy benchmarking as a way to prioritize buildings that have the most potential for improvement – in fact, we’ve been benchmarking buildings since 2004. In our experience, however, we have seen returns superior to those published in a report recently issued by the New York City Mayor's Office of Sustainability.

When we benchmark buildings, we do it to target specific buildings for improvement, a strategy that results in greater than 20% energy savings. Our database contains over 12,000 public buildings of all types and sizes. Interestingly enough, we often find that 75% of the savings in a given portfolio of buildings comes from just 25% of the buildings. This means owners can do detailed auditing on a relatively small percentage of their overall building portfolio and yet realize the majority of their energy savings potential.

We urge owners of large building portfolios to resist the temptation to legislate widespread auditing of buildings without first benchmarking, so that resources can be focused on those buildings with potential for improvement. Sometime the greatest energy waste is found in the least expected places.

Jason Steinbock, PE, BEMP, LEED AP BC+C

Director of Energy Business Development