Better Buildings Through Benchmarking

By Johanna Schweiss, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator,
U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter

These days, our ability to collect and analyze data is revolutionizing our lives. A fitbit can remind me to move and tell me details about my sleep. A budgeting app can remind me that I probably should hold off on a big splurge. The more we know about any area of life, whether it’s our fitness or our bank account, the better we can manage it. You know the saying – you can’t manage what you don’t measure!

That principle carries over to one of the most basic best practices of managing a building – energy benchmarking. Energy benchmarking is the process of measuring a building’s energy use over time and comparing performance to similar buildings and to the past. Understanding where you stand is the first step toward saving energy and money.
According to the EPA, the average building wastes 30% of the energy it consumes due to inefficiencies. Half of all energy savings are possible through low-cost or no-cost operational improvements, but this opportunity for savings is often overlooked by building owners and hidden to investors. By giving building owners a sense of how they compare to similar buildings, energy benchmarking reveals these opportunities. There’s a lot of potential cost savings hiding in those inefficiencies, just waiting for building owners to discover!

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free, online energy, water and waste benchmarking tool. Hundreds of thousands of properties – representing about 50% of the national commercial building floor space – have used ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to measure, track, assess and report on their energy and water consumption. In 2016 alone, it helped businesses and organizations save $10 billion in energy costs.

Not only does prioritizing energy efficiency help businesses improve their bottom line and non-profits pursue their mission, energy efficiency is crucial to our ability to meet our regional climate goals – a 28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

But buildings in the St. Louis region are already hard at work to track and reduce their energy consumption. 80 entities have signed on to The Better Buildings Through Benchmarking Campaign, which recognizes and supports buildings in our region that have committed to benchmark their energy use.

Your church, your children’s school, your favorite non-profit, your favorite local business can all benefit from the cost saving potential of energy benchmarking!

Visit www.BetterBuildingsStl.org to learn more about benchmarking, how you can get started, and view the list of participants!