The Questions We're Asked Each Week About Utility Benchmarking (& How We Respond)

by ‐ Tags: tracking and benchmarking, property management

At WegoWise, utility benchmarking is a core part of what we do. Meanwhile, the property owners and managers we serve are busy managing all aspects of their assets, and benchmarking is not something they think about every day. So today we're addressing the questions we've heard most frequently over the years, based on our experience benchmarking thousands of buildings across the country.

1. Why benchmark my portfolio's energy and water usage?

There are three great reasons to benchmark your buildings:

2. What are some of the different ways to benchmark a building?

There are several ways to benchmark a building, but the most common are:

3. What does a benchmark tell me?

Benchmarking within your portfolio tells you which buildings are your outliers – in other words, which buildings are likely to be the best candidates for deeper inspections and retrofits. Benchmarking tools will also allow you to determine how your building compares to the median building in its peer group as well as to "efficient" buildings (the top 25th percentile). Over time you can watch your performance change as you invest in upgrading your building. This is a fantastic way to set internal goals and rally action around improvement, which will ultimately improve your property's reputation, operating costs, and asset value.

4. Should I benchmark utility usage or cost?

Both usage and cost benchmarks have value. Energy usage intensity (typically measured in BTUs per square foot) provides an apples-to-apples performance metric. Although reducing costs may be one of your primary goals, utility cost structures will vary across buildings due to different utility supply contracts, utility zones, rate classes, and other factors. These cost differences can distort comparisons, so energy usage intensity provides a better measure of energy efficiency performance. However, total cost is an important part of the equation when determining where investments will improve your bottom line. For this reason, within your own portfolio you should benchmark both the usage intensity and the total utility cost of each building. You can then prioritize your efforts around the buildings that are both inefficient and expensive.

5. I've benchmarked my buildings. Now what?

Your energy and water benchmarks should serve as a roadmap for action. Armed with benchmarks specific to water, electricity, and fuel, you now know where your problems (aka opportunities) lie. In some instances you may be able to improve performance by having your maintenance staff investigate the problem areas and correct operational issues. You can also enlist the help of auditors and commissioning agents for targeted assessments of the specific areas that hold the most savings potential. Let the benchmarks be your guide. For example, your benchmarks may tell you that certain buildings have room for improvement on the water side (toilets, shower heads, etc.) but are stellar performers on gas usage. Other buildings may be well tuned on the water side but be prime candidates for fuel savings upgrades (insulation, windows, boiler) or electricity savings measures (lighting, etc.). Auditors will provide a thorough assessment of your options, and you can then access utility incentive funding to perform upgrades and retrofits. Once you've made improvements you can use an automated tool like WegoWise to track for future leaks and issues, and measure whether improvements are delivering the expected savings.

 

When it comes to tackling energy efficiency across a portfolio, your goal should be to maximize total savings while minimizing the time and cost to get from point A to point B. Benchmarking is an inexpensive starting point and a critical prioritization tool which will help you achieve just that.

How can WegoWise save you time, energy and money? We'll show you.