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ENERGY STAR Benchmarking

40% of U.S. commercial buildings are already benchmarked in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, making it the industry leading benchmarking tool. The old adage “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” rings true, and an ENERGY STAR certification will help you use less energy, minimize your carbon footprint, and reduce your energy expenses. ENERGY STAR certified buildings generally have lower operating costs, command higher rental rates, and are more marketable, thus leading to an increase in asset value. Read on for an overview of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

What is ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?

EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is an online benchmarking tool that helps track and measure your water and energy consumption.  Portfolio Manager allows you to track one building or an entire portfolio of buildings.  To get started you just need your energy bills and some information on your property (varies depending on building type).

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager provides a score from 1-100 which is supposed to represent a building’s percentile energy efficiency ranking with respect to similar buildings nationally.  The score is based on comparing your submitted energy data to the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) dataset used in ENERGY STAR.  Current scores are relative to the CBECS 2003 survey and are relative to a 5,215 building sample set in the survey.  New CBECS 2012 survey data will be used for updated scores starting in 2018.

Why Should I Use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?

  • “62% of adults are either equally or more likely to visit a business that focuses on green, regardless of distance or effort required” (Energy Star, Buildings & Plants)
  • “More than 80% of workers are attracted by an employer with an environmental reputation” (Energy Star, Buildings & Plants)
  • “88% say policies that address global warming are important when deciding where to work” (Energy Star, Buildings & Plants)
  • “About half of workers would forgo higher pay or a promotion to work for an organization with a good reputation” (Energy Star, Buildings & Plants)
  • “Studies have shown that superior energy performance contributes to better learning and increased productivity and health” (Energy Star, Buildings & Plants)

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) compares ENERGY STAR labeled office buildings to non-ENERGY STAR buildings of similar size, age, etc. Below are some of its findings:

  • ENERGY STAR labeled office buildings are one-third more efficient and have on average $0.50 (12.9%) lower utility expenses per square footage
  • “Buildings that earned the ENERGY STAR label in six consecutive years are 20% more energy efficient in the sixth year than in the first year labeled.” (Alschuler & Finch, p. 6).
  • ENERGY STAR buildings have 10-11% higher occupancy and 7.3-8.6% higher rental rates
  • ENERGY STAR buildings on average have a 6-10% premium in sales prices over non-rated buildings
  • “A 2012 nationwide study of 11,179 tenant organizations found that certain industries, such as financial services, oil, mining, and construction industries or government agencies, are more likely to seek out green office space” (Alschuler & Finch, p. 10). A few examples of some organizations that are primarily consumers of green office space: Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America, U.S. EPA, Shell.

Sounds Like I Should Participate – How Do I Benchmark My Building(s)?

  1. Collect historical energy invoice data from every utility company and waste hauler you work with (simple with one building, considerably more work across many buildings with multiple providers, some with electronic bill access and others with just snail mail paper invoices)
  2. Manually extract relevant consumption and demand data
  3. Manually enter directly into Portfolio Manager, or a file to be uploaded to Portfolio Manager.
  4. Repeat on a monthly basis to ensure your score is up-to-date and opportunities are not missed.
  5. Collectively waste hours of time managing manually

Alternatively, you can work with EnergyWatch to automate the process through our watchwire utility data management, auditing, benchmarking, and reporting platform.  Our process is as follows:

  1. Hire EnergyWatch
  2. EnergyWatch automatically acquires, audits, centralizes and consolidates, and visualizes your data in watchwire, and pushes updated data on a monthly basis to Portfolio Manager for monthly scoring updates.
  3. You focus on higher priority responsibilities rather than manual data entry

I’ve Participated – What Next?

Once you have participated, there are opportunities to earn recognition based on your building or full portfolio improvements.

The ENERGY STAR National Building Competition is a contest among commercial buildings that monitors who can reduce their energy waste the most throughout the year. All of the buildings track their progress and weigh-in at mid-point and then again at the end of the competition when the building that reduces the most energy on a percentage basis wins. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes many buildings that achieve a 20% reduction throughout the competition.

The ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award is EPA’s highest honor, which awards the organizations that have made distinguishable contributions to the environment through exceptional energy efficiency. The Energy Management award is presented “to organizations for adopting a continuous energy management strategy across the organization’s entire portfolio of buildings and plants.”




Alschuler, Elena & Finch, Patrick. Better Buildings U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Financial Performance: A Review of Studies in the Market, December 2015. https://betterbuildingssolutioncenter.energy.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/Energy%20Efficiency%20and%20Financial%20Performance_12_2015.pdf.  Accessed 17 July 2017.

ENERGY STAR. https://www.energystar.gov/buildings/facility-owners-and-managers/existing-buildings. Accessed 28 June 2017.