If you are operating a commercial facility larger than 50,000 square feet, the statistics tell us your monthly energy expenses are likely consuming up to 30 percent of your total operating budget.
With that much money involved, reducing how much energy your facility uses is likely a high priority for you. Not only is it going to have a noticeable impact on your bottom line, but it’s also a step toward environmental sustainability, which is increasingly important to customers and investors as well.
There are many ways your building could pursue energy efficiency, but one tool you may not be using yet is benchmarking. It’s a simple concept: by measuring your facility’s energy usage, then comparing it to other similar facilities, you can determine how well it’s currently performing. With that information in hand, you can identify areas for improvement, track changes as you make them, and measure how much energy (and money) you’re saving compared to where you started.
In many areas across the U.S., benchmarking for commercial building energy efficiency is required. While that’s not the case in the greater Charlotte area, municipal facilities are setting the example through required benchmarking, and further regulations could evolve in the future. Even without regulatory compliance involved, you can still benefit from doing some strategic benchmarking of your own.
How does benchmarking affect your bottom line?
To answer this question, we’re referring to an article originally published by one of our sister companies, Midwest Mechanical, which operates in Chicago, a city that has implemented city-wide benchmarking for commercial buildings. Here’s how Midwest describe the results:
“In its short implementation history, benchmarking has already helped Chicago's largest occupants realize significant cost savings … ranging between 13 and 24 percent. These savings can be realized in a number of ways. Monitoring air conditioners, data centers, and sensors are simple places to start.”
Where else will benchmarking have an impact?
Further evidence from the Windy City shows that the impact goes beyond each commercial building’s operational expenses and affects the local environment as well.
“Buildings in the city of Chicago spend $3 billion annually on energy costs, and… energy use drives 71 percent of Chicago's greenhouse gas emissions. Taking steps to reduce energy costs through air conditioner usage, and monitoring data centers and building censors can help reduce your building's footprint on the local environment.”
Could our local environments benefit from improved energy efficiency at commercial buildings? Absolutely. Across North Carolina, commercial and industrial facilities account for nearly 44 percent of the state’s total energy usage. If incorporating even basic benchmarking can drop that usage by just one or two percentage points, it will save millions of barrels of oil, billions of cubic feet of natural gas, and millions of tons of coal over the course of a year.
How to institute energy benchmarking for your commercial building
The first step to instituting an effective energy benchmarking process is to establish a baseline by collecting accurate data about your building’s current energy usage. If you have a modern building analytics system installed, this data is likely already at your fingertips. If not, you can call in a trained professional from AirTight FaciliTech to perform an operational assessment to establish that baseline.
With that initial assessment data in hand, you can start taking steps to improve your facility’s energy efficiency, collecting new data month over month to gauge your success.
Adding another layer to the benefits of benchmarking, you can work with the professionals at AirTight FaciliTech to compare your building’s energy usage with similar buildings in the Charlotte area. Our energy engineers will be delighted to assist you with tracking and making recommendations for improvement.
It takes effort, and may require a modest investment to save meaningful amount of energy, but establishing an effective benchmarking program for your Charlotte NC facility can be a great first step in the right direction, both for the environment and for your facility’s bottom line.