The importance of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for commercial buildings

May 23, 2023

The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a powerful tool that enables commercial property owners to measure, track, and improve energy performance. This article explores the features of the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, how it can be used for benchmarking, and how building analytics software can boost your ENERGY STAR score and drive greater energy efficiency within your properties.

What is ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free, online tool developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is designed to help commercial property owners and managers measure, track, and benchmark the energy and water consumption of their buildings. The tool provides a standardized method for assessing a building's energy performance, allowing users to compare their buildings' efficiency against similar facilities and national averages. 

How do I benchmark my building using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?

Commercial property owners can benchmark their buildings using the Portfolio Manager by following these steps:

  1. Create an account: Visit the Portfolio Manager website and create an account. This will give you access to the tool and allow you to enter and manage your building data.
  1. Enter building information: Provide basic details about your building, such as its address, size, and primary use. You will also need to input information about the number of occupants, operating hours, and other relevant characteristics.
  1. Gather energy data: Collect energy consumption data for your building, including utility bills or energy invoices. Enter this data into Portfolio Manager either manually or by using automated data exchange options available for some utility companies.
  1. Generate energy performance metrics: Once the data is entered and verified, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager will generate energy performance metrics, including the ENERGY STAR score.
  1. Explore improvement opportunities and track progress: Analyze the results provided by Portfolio Manager to identify areas where your building's energy performance can be improved. To evaluate the effectiveness of energy efficiency measures and track your progress over time, continuously update your building’s energy consumption data in Portfolio Manager.

What is the ENERGY STAR score?

The ENERGY STAR score is a key feature of the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. It is a numeric value that indicates the energy efficiency performance of a building relative to similar buildings nationwide. The score is calculated using a statistical model that takes into account factors such as building size, location, and operational characteristics.

The ENERGY STAR score ranges from 1 to 100, with a higher score indicating better energy efficiency. A score of 50 represents the national median, which means that a building with a score of 50 performs better than 50% of similar buildings in terms of energy efficiency. 

The ENERGY STAR score allows property owners and managers to easily compare the energy performance of their buildings to others in their portfolio or across the country. It serves as a valuable benchmarking tool for identifying areas of improvement and tracking progress in energy efficiency efforts.

What is the ENERGY STAR certification?

ENERGY STAR certified buildings generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings, which means they save energy, save money, and help protect the environment.

To be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification, which signifies that a building is among the top-performing buildings in terms of energy efficiency, a building must earn an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher. This indicates that the building performs better than at least 75% of similar buildings worldwide.

The certification is given on an annual basis, so a building must continuously demonstrate high performance to be certified each year. Additionally, the information submitted in the certification application must be verified by a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) or Registered Architect (RA) before approval is given.

Receiving an ENERGY STAR certification is useful for owners looking to comply with energy benchmarking ordinances or receive LEED certification, as it demonstrates buildings are meeting certain emissions requirements.

How can I improve my ENERGY STAR score to receive an ENERGY STAR certification?

Building owners can improve their ENERGY STAR score by implementing various energy efficiency measures. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Lighting Upgrades: Replace traditional incandescent or fluorescent lighting with energy-efficient LED lights. 
  • HVAC System Optimization: Ensure that your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are properly maintained and optimized. Regularly clean and replace filters, seal ducts to minimize air leakage, and consider upgrading to more efficient HVAC equipment.
  • Building Envelope Improvements: Enhance insulation, seal air leaks, and upgrade windows to improve the building's thermal performance. 
  • Equipment Upgrades: Upgrade outdated and energy-intensive equipment with more efficient models. This includes replacing old boilers, water heaters, refrigeration units, and other appliances with ENERGY STAR-certified alternatives.
  • Renewable Energy Integration: Consider incorporating renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines, to generate clean energy on-site. This can offset energy consumption and contribute to a higher ENERGY STAR score.

How can building analytics help improve my ENERGY STAR score?

One important thing building owners should be aware of is that an ENERGY STAR score does not explain why your buildings are performing at their current level or tell you how to improve your building’s energy performance. That is why implementing a building analytics software solution, such as CIM’s PEAK Platform, is essential if you wish to understand why your building has been given a certain score, or if you are looking to improve your score.

By utilizing advanced algorithms and machine learning, the PEAK Platform identifies HVAC system anomalies, faulty equipment, sensor malfunctions, and suboptimal control settings that contribute to energy waste. Addressing these issues promptly enhances system efficiency, reduces energy consumption, and positively impacts your ENERGY STAR score.

CIM's PEAK Platform also offers actionable recommendations for optimization based on data analysis. These recommendations can include adjusting equipment schedules, optimizing setpoints, or implementing energy-efficient control strategies. By following these recommendations, building owners can implement targeted energy-saving measures that directly impact their building's energy performance and, consequently, their ENERGY STAR score.

Ready to improve your ENERGY STAR score?

Our team of experts is here to help! Request a callback, and let’s discuss how we can start optimizing your building’s energy performance for a higher ENERGY STAR score.

CIM Team
May 23, 2023