What is energy benchmarking?
Energy benchmarking is a valuable process for both building owners and occupants to better understand and quantify how their buildings are using resources such as energy and water.
Why should I benchmark my building?
It’s the law. In the District, large buildings owners (≥50,000 sq. ft. for privately-owned buildings and ≥10,000 sq. ft. for District-owned properties) have been benchmarking their energy and water performance for nearly a decade. This information is reported to the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) on an annual basis using a free, online platform called ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.
Starting on April 1, 2022, all privately-owned buildings over 25,000 sq. ft. will be required to benchmark (starting with calendar year 2021 data), and starting April 1, 2025, all privately-owned buildings over 10,000 sq. ft. will be required to benchmark (starting with calendar year 2024 data).
It can let you know if your building is required to take action under the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS). A BEPS sets a minimum threshold for energy performance for existing buildings. These standards are based on and measured against a building’s demonstrated energy performance, as shown in their benchmarking data. Under BEPS, the District aggregates individual building performance information per property type to establish a standard for buildings to meet. Buildings that do not meet the standard for their property type will be required to improve their performance over the course of a compliance cycle and demonstrate their accomplishments at the end.
It provides a baseline to evaluate building energy efficiency over time and against comparable buildings. It can be used to compare energy and cost performance year-over-year, compare to similar buildings, and to better identify when a property is underperforming.
It can help you meet your ESG goals. Market leaders are increasingly concerned about meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. ESG have become important measures of risk management by investors and lenders. Benchmarking is the first step in assessing the operational efficiency and environmental impact of your building and it can be a simultaneous opportunity to meet social responsibility metrics, since benchmarking jobs can be an entry point for people who want to join the green building economy.
How do you find a contractor?
No specific certifications are required to perform benchmarking. The contractor primarily needs to understand how to interpret utility bills and perform basic data entry functions. However, the District will begin requiring third-party data verification from an approved verifier beginning in 2024 for data submitted for calendar year 2023. An approved verifier must possess one of the following licenses, credentials, or certifications:
- Professional Engineer (PE)
- Licensed Architect
- Certified Energy Manager (CEM)
- Building Energy Assessment Professional
- Any other additional data verifier license or training program credentials recognized by DOEE and posted to its website
- A building owner may also use a current ENERGY STAR certification, which includes third-party data verification, to meet the third-party verification requirements.
Energy benchmarking can be performed in-house. However, this initial data entry work presents an ideal opportunity to engage students, interns, or entry-level workers. You can check with the DCSEU externship program to find entry-level workers to help with your benchmarking needs.