Energy Star is the most well-known and well-used standard for benchmarking building energy performance in the world. Since the program’s American debut in 1992, it has been adopted in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the European Union. Reporting energy efficiency through Energy Star is generally voluntary for commercial buildings, but many choose to do so because of the clear-cut benefits that come with a rating and, eventually, certification. Today, approximately 40 percent of existing U.S. commercial building space is benchmarked with Energy Star. Here are the top 5 reasons for doing energy benchmarking with Energy Star.
Energy benchmarking helps you to put your monthly energy bills in context. This is important because building performance is notoriously difficult to assess in a vacuum. Building A might pay $3,000 a month in electricity bills and Building B might pay $10,000, but who’s to say whether Building A is more efficient or Building B is larger and serving a more energy-intensive use case? Benchmarking with Energy Star can help to reveal how buildings perform within their class and category and show you where there is room for improvement.
Over the last decade in particular, consumers have come to expect that the companies they work for and do business with will share their values, and this includes a commitment to a smaller carbon footprint. By choosing to do energy benchmarking and working to obtain a favorable rating, you can provide potential and existing tenants with a compelling reason to choose or stick with your building, respectively. In particular, startup businesses and tech companies, with their stock of millennial workers, tend to care deeply about environmental concerns.
On average, buildings that benchmark consistently through Energy Star reduce their energy use by 2.4 percent per year for an additional savings of 7 percent. Buildings that start out as poor performers save considerably more. Just seeing consistent feedback on how their buildings are doing motivates building teams to further reduce energy use. While most energy saving retrofits cost money, they generally pay for themselves within just a few years.
While Energy Star benchmarking is usually optional, some local governments have chosen to require that commercial building operators use the (free) reporting system. Major metropolitan areas are especially likely to require benchmarking or to be considering it. New York City was the first to require Energy Star reporting, but now several states and cities have laws on the books, as do almost all buildings that are leased to the federal government.
If you plan to pursue any other green building certifications, like LEED or GRESB, one of the most important categories that they will ask about is your Energy Star score. LEED awards up to 20 points based on your score. Like Energy Star certification, these certifications help to signal to potential and existing tenants that you care about energy efficiency and that you are leaning into important building concerns.The Energy Star Portfolio Manager is a free way to benchmark all of the buildings in your portfolio with only a few hours of setup and some ongoing data entry. Alternately, Aquicore can automate the reporting process and pull scores for your entire portfolio into one platform for instantaneous access.