The Importance of Knowing Your Building’s “MPG”

Building Benchmarking is like finding your car's MPG.

Energy usage benchmarking is an invaluable tool that is lowering energy costs and increasing value for thousands of buildings around the country.  The most well-known and utilized program is the Energy Star Program run by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The program provides an accurate comparison to both industry averages as well as “best in class” spaces that earn the Energy Star credential.  It works is by entering 13 months of all-energy usage along with other critical details about your building/space into a sophisticated cloud-based computer program.  Your building is then compared to thousands of other buildings that are similar.  The Energy Star Program has been in existence for decades and claims to have a database of over 40% of all commercial spaces in the U.S.  These comparison buildings and spaces are for similar building types and usages in similar climates.  The program yields a report, rich in data that is helpful to review with a trained professional.

According to a recent study conducted by the EPA, modern buildings that were benchmarked consistently reduced their energy use by 2.4 percent per year, and saved an average of 7 percent just by virtue of the comparison alone not accounting for improvements made as a result of the knowledge.  Buildings that started out performing the most poorly saved the most.

A good way to think of benchmarking is like finding your building’s “MPG,” just like you would with a vehicle.  Poor MPG can be indicative of problems with a car, but unless you know what’s normal for that vehicle, then you may not necessarily see that there are any issues.  Managing the energy efficiency of your building is important to its value, longevity and your business performance. You might benefit from knowing how efficiency and/or usage improvements can affect your bottom line. Previously unidentified problems can also be detected just like your doctor taking your blood pressure annually comparing it to your historical norms and other healthy standards.

Credentialing that can come from achieving the Energy Star Certification can significantly improve your core business as well.  This certification is for those “best in class” buildings that are in the top 25% percentile of peer buildings.  Nowhere is this more important than in the hospitality industry and commercially leased spaces.  The Maine Department of Tourism has a Green Lodging Certification Program. Owners have found that this certification consistently leads to higher booking levels and guest loyalty.  Similarly landlords with better bonafide “Green” credentials are able to attract and retain better tenants, have lower vacancy rates and consistently receive higher rents prices.  Given credible means of comparison consumers are able to make more informed decisions just like trading up to autos with a higher MPG.

There are many benefits to benchmarking that include, but are not limited to, identifying potential for reducing owning and operating costs, uncovering possibly undetected issues with HVAC and electrical systems and credentialing such as the Energy Star certification.

If you would like to know how your building(s) compare call us today and ask a trained energy expert about benchmarking. It always the best place to start if you are considering improvements. It is a simple, effective, and advantageous place to start. If your building qualifies, we provide this valued service at no cost to you.

Call In The Experts™ today.   Ask for me if you wish. I’ll let you know what the potential is for benchmarking your building.


Dan Thayer, P.E., CEM