If you are a business or building owner, your utility bills are likely a significant overhead expense. While keeping your lights on, HVAC running, and water flowing is necessary, it may not need to be as expensive as it is. Knowing the history of your utility usage and how it compares to what your building or business uses today is the only way to implement improvements and track them. This is what utility benchmarking is all about.
Benchmarking with the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a method to compare and track your building’s energy usages and compare it to past consumption. You can also compare it to similar buildings’ energy usage or complete it to obtain a reference performance level.
Implementing energy consumption improvements in your building is difficult to do without benchmarking. The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager greatly simplifies benchmarking, saving you time and money. To learn everything there is to know about the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and how to use it, continue reading this detailed guide.
What is the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?
The Portfolio Manager by ENERGY STAR is an online tracking tool you use to monitor and benchmark the energy usage of a commercial building. Besides electricity usage, it also monitors water use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and materials.
You can use the program to identify efficiency improvements and gain EPA recognition for energy improvements and performance. It is one of the best resource management tools. It’s in a secure online location that you can access anywhere, it is intuitive to set up and use, and nearly ¼ of commercial buildings already use it for benchmarking. Plus, it is free to use.
What is Benchmarking?
Energy benchmarking is the continuous monitoring of your building’s utility usage. It’s a way to establish a baseline of its usage and determine if it is getting better or worse. Many property owners use benchmarking to monitor for improvements in energy consumption after implementing energy efficiency initiatives.
How to use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
Using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is simple. If you have not set it up before, you will have to create a login before adding a property. You can find more information on ENERGY STAR’s website. Their online tool is intuitive and easy to follow. To start, follow the below steps.
Before you create an account on the website, you should first determine what information and data you plan to benchmark. It helps speed up the process as you will need this information when you create the account and select your property.
The data that ENERGY STAR requires to benchmark your business or building varies depending on the property type and whether the property has eligibility for an ENERGY STAR Score or not.
To determine the data they require for your building or business, their online tool has you select your country and property type. It will then generate a complete list of the data you will need, which you can then save as a PDF or Word document directly from the web page.
Setup Your Account
Once you have the data you need, the next step is creating your account, logging in, then adding your property and meters. The tools in the Portfolio Manager make it easy to perform these steps.
Automate Your Utility Data Uploads
The next step is to link your utilities to the Portfolio Manager to add your utility data automatically. The data may be automatically added continuously, daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the utility company.
Check with Your Utility Provider
Unfortunately, not all utility companies provide this automated service. If you are stuck with a utility that does not offer automatic uploads, you or one of your employees will have to upload it manually. That is unless you convince the utility company to add the service.
You can check if your utility provides automated data submission by using the interactive map on the Portfolio Manager.
Use an Energy Service Company
Many energy service companies, like EnergyPrint, can exchange your property’s data and information with ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager directly. This means, instead of having to enter your utility data yourself manually, it can be automated, even if the utility company doesn’t provide this service.
Benchmarking your building’s utilities has many benefits. The goal of benchmarking is to track energy, save you money, reduce consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and decrease the property’s environmental impact.
Benchmarking allows business owners the ability to:
- Identify efficiency improvements
- Monitor and share performance
- Verify savings
- Prevent future increases
- Determine best practices for utility use
- Construct a utility management system from the ground up