B3 Benchmarking Newsletter
|In this newsletter:
- Site IDs
- Excel Exports
- Dashboard Widgets
- Other Recent Updates
B3 has added support for tracking multiple custom and standard IDs related to each site. All IDs, including the B3 assigned Site ID and existing B3 Alt ID, can now be found in the Site Editor on a new tab called Identifiers located under the Other menu. Here you can add up to 3 custom IDs as well as 3 Standard IDs that are selected from the dropdown. Custom IDs are unique to your portfolio or program, and you set both the name and value. Standard IDs are typically associated with regional or national programs and campaigns. Select the ID name from the dropdown and enter the value. These IDs are included in the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® integration, so will transfer to streamline tracking and ordinance compliance submittals. A new Export to Excel template called Site Identifiers has been added to create a list of these for each site.
Submeters within B3 can now be connected to other submeters, allowing a daisy chain of connections. Remember that submeters may have differing source types or unit measurements than their master meter. For example, say your campus has a heating plant that provides steam produced from a natural gas boiler. The natural gas meter from the utility would be entered as the master meter. There may be a meter at the heating plant that tracks how much total steam is produced, which would be entered as a submeter tied back to the utility natural gas meter. The individual buildings would then have steam submeters tied back to the heating plant steam submeter. Sneak peak for the upcoming release: we are enhancing the diagram views to help ease the web of buildings and meters that may occur with campuses.
Reminder that virtual submeters can be created, and usage from a master meter can be automatically allocated by entering a percent. This may be helpful in campus situations where a meter is shared across buildings, as creating an allocated meter with estimated usage allows the separation of sites. This is also useful for with renewable energy that is generated at one site, but the organization wants to allocate some of the renewable usage to another site in order to meet carbon goals.
To help alert if submeters are overallocated to the master meter, B3 will now post a warning within the Messages dashboard widget, as well as on the Benchmark and Baseline metrics. Use the Export to Excel template called Master Meter/Submeters Usage to see monthly usage of the master meter and each submeter, which helps identify which meter(s) may be causing the issue.
Export to Excel templates have been enhanced and expanded to provide easy access to more metrics and site/building details. The list of templates can be accessed from the Tools menu in the upper right corner. If you’re not seeing a template that meets your needs, a custom export can be created and saved for future use.
If you haven’t looked lately, we’ve added additional dashboard widgets and updated existing ones. The gear icon in the upper right corner allows you to configure your specific user dashboard to highlight what is important to you. Widgets can be resized, rearranged, and some have additional filtering options.
Other Recent Updates
- Support for drag/drop in navigation tree
- Annual summary visualizations table when viewing specific meters
- Support for CO2e factors by utility company
- Mark a site as not containing any energy meters, to alleviate warnings
Building energy benchmarking, or the process of evaluating your energy consumption against industry benchmarks, can save municipalities thousands by identifying which buildings should be optimized. City officials and facility managers can use benchmarking tools to compare what their building would use if it was built to the current energy code, to their peers from around the country, to ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and to their previous energy use (weather normalized). Energy benchmarking helps municipalities identify and resolve the most critical inefficiencies first to maximize savings. Over time, officials can benchmark against historical data and determine new or emerging efficiency gaps within their buildings.
But to use an energy benchmarking tool effectively, officials and facility managers need to identify the most critical key performance indicators from the benchmarking report to optimize performance and generate substantial cost savings. Let’s break down these key performance indicators and what they mean for municipalities.
Cost PainPoints & Savings
Perhaps the most significant KPI for municipalities and public organizations is economic viability. With a benchmarking tool, officials can easily determine whether a building is underspending or overspending compared to historical data and the engineering benchmark, code-level building.
To assess the economic health of your building, contextualize the following metrics:
- Energy costs. Evaluate your energy costs by energy type, and look for monthly trends or significant cost changes.
- Potential Savings. Robust benchmarking tools should calculate potential savings for you. Use this metric to easily identify budgetary leaks. B3 Benchmarking allows users to Benchmark by fuel stream and end-use, so you can identify detailed savings opportunities within a building.
Now more than ever, citizens expect their cities to invest in sustainability efforts to improve their communities and livelihoods. Additionally, sustainable, energy-efficient buildings reduce costs in the long term in the form of consumption savings and longevity.
To evaluate the environmental impact of your buildings, consider:
- Carbon Emissions. A key metric in determining a building’s environmental impact is carbon emissions. Use the carbon emissions metric within your benchmarking tool to compare your carbon footprint to similar buildings.
- EUI. EUI, or energy use intensity, is a measurement of a building’s energy use proportionate to the building’s size, function, etc. EUI is the basis of the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. For municipalities, this metric can help officials compare energy efficiency between apples and oranges (a fire station vs. a city hall).
At the end of the day, the determining factor for energy spending is consumption. Generally speaking, buildings that consume more will cost more. But without the right benchmarking tool, your team may not be able to accurately account for consumption.
Use the following metrics to gauge your energy consumption levels:
- Baseline. Most benchmarking tools will have a “baseline” metric so you can easily track increases or decreases in energy consumption.
- Benchmark Rating. Willdan’s B3 solution includes a B3 Benchmark Rating, which aggregates performance against B3’s benchmarks. The system benchmarks 98% of public portfolios, allowing for more accurate comparisons.
- ENERGY STAR Score. ENERGY STAR Score is a metric from the EIA that measures your building’s energy performance 1-100 against buildings nationwide. A score of 50 is considered benchmark performance. Energy Star Scores give officials a bird’s eye view of their efficiency–and potential–compared to thousands of similar buildings.
Municipalities cannot afford inefficiency. Energy benchmarking solutions empower officials to quickly identify optimization opportunities to significantly reduce cost savings and improve performance.
B3 Benchmarking is a cloud-based software application that collects, stores, manages, and analyzes usage data for sites and buildings. B3’s algorithms go beyond statistical benchmarks and scoring to provide more insight into a wider range of buildings. B3 integrates with and expands upon ENERGY STAR(R) Portfolio Manager(R), pairing usage data and basic building information with real-time energy simulations, providing analysis of carbon, energy costs, and energy use intensity (EUI) by month, fuel stream, and major end-use. To learn more about how B3 can accelerate cost savings and transform building efficiency, request a demo with our team.
How confident are you that you’re maximizing your results from energy benchmarking? Organizations of all sizes can benefit from energy benchmarking, which can save you thousands in reduced costs and improved energy efficiency.
By enhancing reporting, tracking, and visibility into building energy performance, benchmarking helps organizations easily identify potential cost savings opportunities. But many organizations miss low-hanging fruit by focusing on the wrong metrics. In this article, we break down why it’s important to optimize energy benchmarking, common mistakes, and how to ensure you’re maximizing your results.
Comprehensive Energy Benchmarking
It’s critical that you take a comprehensive approach to energy benchmarking and ensure you aren’t missing out on potential savings. By initiating an in-depth review and analysis, you can be confident the organization has:
- Maximized resources
- Minimized costs
- Identified critical maintenance needs
- Complied with government mandates and regulations
But comprehensive benchmarking can be complicated. Some common roadblocks to an optimized energy benchmarking process include:
- Prioritization. Without the right tools, it can be difficult to identify what changes should be prioritized, leading to nothing–or the wrong action–being done.
- Data Organization & Clarity. Especially for organizations with multiple buildings, organizing your data in a way that paints a clear picture of your savings opportunities can feel impossible. B3 recommends developing a list of KPIs to help weed through the data.
- Overwhelming Initiatives. Some of the greatest potential cost savings opportunities may overwhelm teams or be impossible to initiate in the short term.
Common Energy Benchmarking Mistakes
Perhaps the most common mistake when energy benchmarking is only focusing on the largest buildings. As demonstrated in our resource developed by B3 experts, there is not a high correlation between building size and savings potential. In fact, small buildings often have huge gaps in efficiency because they are not as dutifully managed. Likewise, small buildings may have more “low-hanging fruit” that your team can implement quickly to improve building efficiency.
Related to building size, total energy use is not an effective measure for determining potential savings opportunities. More often than not, high-energy use buildings are already optimized and in line with building codes. As displayed below, energy usage is only an indicator of savings potential 36% of the time. If your team is only focusing on this metric, they will miss energy savings opportunities 64% of the time.
Going a step further, many teams will analyze energy use intensity (EUI) to determine the greatest potential savings. Energy Use Intensity is a measurement of energy efficiency within a building. Despite this, an EUI score above a certain threshold can be a misleading indicator of potential savings. For example, our experts found that above 50 kBtu/sf, EUI is not an accurate measure of energy savings potential. Notably, EUI can help filter out buildings below 50, which typically have limited savings potential.
Solely focusing on ENERGY STAR Score is another red herring for energy management teams. ENERGY STAR Score is an EPA-backed measurement of building energy efficiency that illustrates how your buildings compare to “neighbors” and buildings with similar characteristics. While ENERGY STAR Scores are valuable, we found that even buildings within the top 25% of scores among peers can have high savings potential.
Implementing Comprehensive Energy Benchmarking
The best way to ensure you are maximizing the results of your benchmarking is to use benchmarking software. Robust benchmarking software empowers your team to holistically review data, easily identify and prioritize key performance initiatives, and benchmark performance against peers.
B3 Benchmarking software ensures comprehensive benchmarking through:
- User-friendly reporting and tracking of KPIs
- Potential savings broken down by fuel source
- Comparisons between a wider range of buildings
- Seamless identification and prioritization of buildings with greatest savings potential
- Integration with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
To learn more about how B3 can help you maximize the results of your energy benchmarking, request a demo with our team.
B3 Benchmarking Newsletter
In this newsletter:
- Multi-Use Buildings
- ENERGY STAR® Integration
- Meter Source Types
- Estimated Data
- Map Functionality
- Upcoming Features
- Upcoming Webinars
For those with multi-use buildings, B3 buildings can now be defined with multiple building types in addition to customizing the space areas within. Below is an example of a city hall building that had customized the spaces to account for a library, police station and data center also housed within it. Going forward, the building can be defined as four distinct building types with a selected primary building type. The space areas within each building type can still be customized as well.
To reconfigure a multi-use building, click the Add a Building Type button. Select the building type and specify the percentage of the gross building sf. Use the scale icon to adjust the percentage of the original primary building type. Within each building type, customize the space asset areas if applicable. The building types and respective space asset areas will carry to the Operations, Advanced and ENERGY STAR tabs so ensure all are accurately updated.
ENERGY STAR Integration
With the implementation of multi-use buildings, B3 integration with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager has been updated to tie each B3 building type to an ESPM property type. Reconfiguring the B3 buildings into building types allows B3 to gather the necessary ESPM use details for each.
Meter Source Types
Electric and renewable energy source icons were recently updated. B3 has also added additional energy source types to accommodate coal, coke, diesel, and kerosene. Where applicable, B3 will prompt for type. If you already have a fuel oil meter, the type field is now available on the Options tab of the meter editor.
If you need to change the source type for an existing meter, first add the new meter type(s). From Tools menu, open the Import Meter Readings window and click Download Template. Open the Excel file and copy the readings from the existing meter over to the new meter. Save the changes and import the Excel file into B3. Once the readings are part of the new meter, delete the old meter.
Submeters within B3 can now be connected to master meters that are of differing source types or unit measurements. For example, your campus has a heating plant that provides steam produced from a natural gas boiler. The natural gas meter from the utility would be entered as the master meter. The individual buildings would have steam submeters tied back to the natural gas master meter.
Reminder that virtual submeters can be created and usage from a master meter can be auto allocated by entering a percent. This may be helpful in campus situations where a meter is shared across buildings and creating an allocated meter with estimated usage allows the separation of sites. Or with renewable energy that is generated at one site, but the organization wants to allocate some of the renewable usage to another site to meet carbon goals.
Sometimes actual data isn’t available, whether that be usage or costs, or the utility reports estimated readings. Within the meter editor, readings can now be flagged as estimated by checking the Est? checkbox. In cases of submetering, costs for the specific meter may be unavailable. Or sometimes with utility automation, a utility may not provide costs. In these scenarios, B3 can uses the state’s average utility costs to calculate these. The state average utility costs are collected from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and are updated annually.
Within each map, there are now icons to allow you to control the tilt of the view and if tilt is enabled, change the rotation.
For those programs that have maps within their reports, the formatting of these has been updated to more closely align with the view seen within the application.
B3 continues to make updates to dashboard widgets. Some of these include updates to the map, costs and potential savings widgets. The pins and details displayed in the map widget can now be tied to any of the 4 metrics for either energy or water. The cost and potential savings widgets can have their scope specific to either All Energy or All Water. Coming in the February release, we will have further updates to existing widgets as well as new widgets.
B3 continues to expand on the availability of fields for custom exports. Some recent ones include potential savings by end use, potential savings of CO2e, total energy cost, and total water cost. There are more fields to come but if you have specific fields you’d like to see included, let us know!
What is an ENERGY STAR score
ENERGY STAR Score is an EPA-backed measurement of building energy efficiency that illustrates how your buildings compare to “neighbors” and buildings with similar characteristics. On a scale of 1-100, your score helps anyone in your organization determine your building’s general energy performance. While your score quickly summarizes building efficiency, it does not explain why your building is overperforming or underperforming benchmarks.
Because ENERGY STAR scoring gives a bird’s eye view of efficiency and consumption, it can be challenging to uncover the best tactics for improving your score. Despite this, there are many benefits of improving your score.
Benefits of improving your ENERGY STAR score include:
- Significant Cost Savings. By improving consumption and efficiency throughout your building(s) and thereby increasing your Score, you can significantly reduce costs associated.
- Long-Term Sustainability. Improving your building’s efficiency can also improve the resilience of your building in performing through unexpected weather conditions, disasters, and general wear and tear over time.
- Obtaining a Clear “Snapshot” of Success for Stakeholders. Increasing your Score over time can demonstrate the success of your sustainability, consumption, or efficiency efforts to stakeholders and senior management.
- Eligibility for ENERGY STAR Certifications. The Environmental Protection Agency offers opportunities to earn certifications and partnerships based on your building performance. These achievements can then be used for marketing collateral or brand reputation building.
We’ve put together a list of the top tactics to improve your ENERGY STAR score over time and reap the full benefits.
Set Clear Goals
Most successful projects start with a plan. A good tactic for improving your ENERGY STAR score is to set clear goals. In the new year, set organization-wide commitments to sustainability, energy performance targets, and new strategic initiatives that can improve efficiency.
For example, make it a goal to install energy-efficient lighting throughout an entire building by the end of 2023. Or, commit to an energy audit to improve efficiency. Most obviously, set a goal for what you want your score to be. The certification threshold is 75, so consider setting a goal of at least 75.
Goal setting can help you make more consistent improvements that will improve your ENERGY STAR score over time.
Use Contextualized Data
Reviewing your utility bills does not give you a full picture of consumption excess or conservation due to a common roadblock:
Your utility bill is not calendarized. Consumption and cost information typically covers a range of days that is not in line with a monthly calendar. Instead, your utility bills may cover a range of dates spanning across multiple months, i.e. January 15 – March 15, 2022. This can stifle your ability to compare consumption with internal monthly trend reports across your building. For example, a foot traffic report in February compared to March.
To better identify opportunities for improving efficiency, and therefore your ENERGY STAR score, you should review your utility bill with as much context as possible. By “calendarizing” your utility data, you can reevaluate your energy use data within the context of building foot traffic, behavioral trends, or external factors such as extreme weather conditions and temperature waves.
Review In-Depth KPIs
Along with goal-setting, you should also review other key performance indicators to improve your score. As mentioned, the EPA scoring system does not give a clear picture for where your organization’s efficiency gaps actually are, which means you cannot solely rely on the ENERGY STAR scoring model to improve your energy use.
At B3, we recommend benchmarking against the following KPIs to improve your energy efficiency and score overall:
- Total energy costs
- Potential savings
- Total carbon emissions
- Energy use intensity
- Your building’s historical consumption baseline
- Benchmark performance compared to similar buildings
These key performance indicators can help you quickly identify and resolve any efficiency gaps within your organization. You will need a robust energy benchmarking tool to accurately and quickly analyze these KPIs.
Invest in Energy Management Software
The most effective way to improve your ENERGY STAR score is to invest in comprehensive energy benchmarking software. Energy benchmarking software helps organizations across industries seamlessly integrate with Portfolio Manager to gain a more granular view of performance and efficiency gaps.
B3 Benchmarking helps businesses across industries–from property owners to municipalities and educational institutions–compare their buildings to historical data and similar buildings nationwide. Seamlessly integrating with your Portfolio Manager, B3 provides substantially more data-driven insights than Portfolio Manager can provide. B3 integrates with and expands upon ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, pairing monthly utility data and basic building information with real-time energy simulations.
B3 paints a clear picture of where any organization can save the most energy, ensuring your improvement team’s time and resources are dedicated to the greatest potential savings. To learn more about how B3 can help you meet your goals, improve your ENERGY STAR score, and transform your building efficiency, request a demo with our team.
B3 Benchmarking was used by the Minnesota State College and Universities system to help reduce overall energy consumption by 20% among its 54 campuses located throughout the state (28.5M SF total) by the year 2020.
B3 Benchmarking helped Minnesota State College and Universities achieve this reduction by:
- Prioritizing and executing energy audits and recommissioning work across 33 campuses
- Prioritizing building project repair and replacement based on guaranteed energy savings, thereby freeing up money for other potential projects