Prioritizing energy upgrades in your portfolio
If you're reading this blog, you are probably interested in investing some time and money into energy efficiency improvements for your buildings. This can be a challenging process, and building owners and property managers shouldn't just guess which buildings might benefit from improvements, as this can result in spending a lot on a building where there is little savings to harvest. Instead, building owners and property managers can make smart decisions based on insight into which buildings have the greatest energy savings potential. In this post, I'll walk through the process of determining how each building in a portfolio is doing, as well as how to ensure that building improvements are prioritized in such a way that you get the biggest "bang for your buck."
6 steps to prioritizing energy efficiency improvements
To make sure you are spending your efficiency efforts...efficiently, you need to identify the savings opportunity. There are six main steps you should take to determine the energy savings potential for each building in your portfolio:
- Gather your utility bills from the past year for each of your buildings and each fuel within that building. You can use pen and paper, a spreadsheet, or a tool like WegoWise to see all the data in one place.
- Determine the previous year's utility consumption and spend for each fuel.
- Calculate the EUI (Energy Use Intensity) for each building using the annual utility consumption. To do this, first convert (link will download the Energy Star Quick-Convert Excel spreadsheet) the annual energy use into kBTU. Next, divide your energy use in kBTU by the gross square footage of the building.
- Compare the EUI for each of your buildings to the average EUI for buildings of the same type. Energy Star's Portfolio Manager can help you do this, or you can look for additional references like this one. Using the average EUI for your building type, determine the difference between your buildings' EUIs and the average EUIs. The buildings with the largest differences have the greatest overall energy savings potential.
You may be tempted to stop here now that you know which buildings have the highest EUIs compared to their average building types. However, you don't yet know which fuel you should be focusing on for improvements (and the EUI doesn't look at water). Even in a building with a below average EUI, one of the fuels could still be performing poorly. We have seen significant savings in buildings that look very efficient overall.
To really take a closer look at the performance of each of the utilities in your buildings, you need to continue with these final two steps:
- For each fuel, determine the difference between each building's consumption and the average consumption for that fuel for that building type. For example, this table looks at actual spend versus an average building for electricity, gas, and water:
- Focus on the buildings that have fuels with the greatest savings potential. For instance, if you have a gas heated building and the gas is the fuel in your portfolio with the greatest savings potential, you might take a closer look at your heating system. You can dive even deeper into this analysis by building a regression model and examining the baseload (non-seasonal) and heating (weather-dependent) components of building performance. For more information, take a look at this white paper.
Does this sound like a lot of work? That's because it is! The payback you'll see from prioritizing your energy efficiency improvements will certainly be worth your efforts though.
If you don't have the time to do these calculations yourself, WegoWise can help. Our annual Building Outlook report does the steps I just described, using our benchmarks to provide you with a prioritized list of buildings and fuels with the greatest savings potential. We'll also include recommendations based on the regressions I mentioned in step 6 to determine whether you should be focusing on the baseload, heating or cooling for your worst performing fuels. We'll take all the guesswork out of prioritizing energy efficiency improvements, saving you time and money so that you can manage your utilities efficiently. Click on the Premium link at the top of this blog post for more information.