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Get Ready for New ENERGY STAR Score Updates

You’ve probably heard of the phrase “Winter is coming.” Equally intimidating for owners and managers of office buildings, K-12 schools, warehouses, and retail stores is the phrase “ENERGY STAR score updates are coming,” especially because the more recent score updates in 2018 resulted in a lot of people’s scores dropping significantly. Read on for an explanation of the ENERGY STAR score, why scores dropped in 2018, if they’ll drop next time, and how your company, organization, or facility can prepare.

What Is an ENERGY STAR Score?

An ENERGY STAR score is a percentile comparison of your building against other similar buildings in the U.S. If your building has a score of 50, it means your building performs better than about 50% of similar buildings nationwide. A score of 75 or higher indicates that your building is in the top 25% of performers (75 is also the threshold for eligibility for ENERGY STAR certification).

Why Did Scores Drop Last Time?

Two factors caused scores to drop. First, buildings were being compared against data that was several years out of date; the scores were based on 2012 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) survey data. The second factor was the length of time between the 2012 survey and the previous survey. Eight CBECS surveys were conducted between 1979 and 2003, with no more than 4 years between consecutive surveys. However, following 2003, nine years passed until the 2012 survey.

As a result, buildings went directly from being compared to 2003 data to being compared to 2012 data, without a step in between. Building energy and operations technologies can change drastically in that amount of time, especially since sustainability has become an important consideration for many building owners and managers. Therefore, a building that scored high when compared against 2003 data might have scored much worse when compared against 2012 data.

Will Scores Drop Again?

The EIA started the latest CBECS survey in 2018, six years after the last one in 2012. This means you should expect another significant drop in ENERGY STAR scores for many property types, as building efficiency has only continued to improve.

When will the New Score Updates Arrive, and How Can You Prepare?

The ENERGY STAR score development team will likely start working on the next round of updates by next spring, so you can expect scores to be released in 2023 or 2024. Since a full years’ worth of data is required for an ENERGY STAR score, your 2023/2024 score will take into account data from late 2022. That’s only around 18 months away! If you’re a building owner or and manager, this means you should promptly evaluate your building’s current energy consumption, decide on appropriate efficiency projects, operational changes, or other energy-saving measures, implement them, and then measure and verify their success. To stay up to date on developments to this story/a reminder when the scoring updates will take place, keep an eye on our blog.

EnergyWatch’s energy and sustainability management software, WatchWire, offers a single source of truth for your energy and sustainability data.  With WatchWire’s real-time and interval data monitoring, you can pinpoint exactly when and where your operational inefficiencies are occurring. Once you know how your building is losing energy, you can take steps to fix it. This will make your building more efficient, thus lifting your ENERGY STAR score. Additionally, WatchWire offers measurement and verification (M&V) for efficiency projects, so you’ll know for sure if the efficiency and sustainability fixes you instituted are working. Finally, WatchWire uses visualized invoice data to identify utility account level and aggregate property level trends in consumption, demand, and costs. This data is used to benchmark your properties against each other to prioritize sustainability and efficiency opportunities with the quickest payback and largest impact (based on KPIs such as kWh/ft2, watts/ft2, etc.).

To learn more about WatchWire, click here to download the WatchWire Solution Brief. Or, to learn about ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and other reporting frameworks more in depth, download our e-book, “Utilizing Sustainability Reporting in the Journey Towards Net Zero.”