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Why Benchmarking Matters

November 15, 2012

If someone told you that they had a service used by 267,000 buildings comprising 40 percent of the non-residential market in the United States you’d be pretty amazed right?

And if that same person said that with consistent use of their service, they had users achieve a 2.5 percent reduction in energy consumption year over year for the last three years, you’d have to admit that is a sign of good management and they must be doing something right!

Those are the results reported this month in a study of energy savings trends by consistent users of the EPA’s EnergyStar portfolio manager program.

On average, buildings that consistently use EnergyStar to track and manage their energy use are realizing savings every year.

Does the savings come from benchmarking alone? Of course not. But benchmarking is an important tool for improvement that should be in the tool belt of every building manager. Benchmarking gives building operators the information they need to guide their investment in efficiency improvement processes that help ultimately reduce energy waste and reduce operating costs.

The report goes on to talk about the financial impact of those savings for the building owners.

A savings of 2.4 percent for three consecutive years is equivalent to the following:

For a 500,000 square foot office building:

  • Cumulative energy cost savings of $120,000
  • Increase in asset value of over $1 million

For a medium box retailer with 500 stores:

  • Cumulative energy cost savings of $2.5 million
  • Increase in sales of 0.89%

For a full service hotel chain with 100 properties:

  • Cumulative energy cost savings of $4.1 million
  • Increase in revenue per available room of $1.41

For an 800,000 square foot school district:

  • Cumulative energy cost savings of $140,000

At Trane, we use benchmarking to give our customers an appreciation for exactly how their buildings are performing compared to their peer group, as well as an understanding of what type of performance is possible once energy conservation measures (ECMs) are implemented.

For many customers this is an eye opening experience. They begin to seek out and discover inefficiencies in their existing building systems, controls, maintenance practices and operational parameters.

As the old adage says, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. If so, benchmarking should be a key first step in improving the performance of any building.