How To Design a Benchmarking Plan

by | Mar 13, 2013

The US Department of Energy Technical Assistance Program (TAP) has published a resource with tools and tips for public sector organizations to use in developing a benchmarking plan.

Benchmarking — comparing a metered building’s current energy performance with its energy baseline — can help building managers compare performance over time or between similar types of building, or document savings from conservation measures. Whether benchmarking as a part of an energy management plan or to meet requirements of a policy or program, having a benchmarking plan helps organizations implement their efforts.

Designing a Benchmarking Plan provides an 11-step outline through the planning process with resources to help organizations at each step.

  1. Establish a goal for benchmarking. This may include incorporating benchmarking as an energy management strategy or using it to show results from energy efficiency initiatives or participate in an energy efficiency program.
  2. Secure buy-in from leadership. Top management must be a part of the process.
  3. Build a benchmarking team. Look for pro-bono help from local stakeholders such as colleges and universities or nonprofits.
  4. Identify output metrics needed to support the benchmarking goal. For example, Better Buildings Challenge Partners share facility-level data every six months to track the progress of the energy use intensity (kBtu/sqft) reduction goals for their entire portfolio of buildings.
  5. Identify the data input requirements. The output metrics selected will dictate the data inputs required.
  6. Select a benchmarking tool. This can range fro ma simple spreadsheet to a custom web-based platform. Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager is a free online tool that benchmarks monthly meter data for buildings and can generate GHG metrics, gross energy consumption, track energy use intensity and compare building performance to the national median by building type.
  7. Determine a collection method. A centralized approach creates a central account for all of the data, while a decentralized approach involves multiple accounts to share with a central database.
  8. Consider the data verification process. Set up a quality-assurance plan to verify data and use the process to promote accurate, transparent reporting.
  9. Evaluate analysis techniques. Tracking and analyzing data can be simple graphs that show energy consumption or complex statistical models that identify variables affecting energy consumption.
  10. Communicate the plan and formalize the process. Have top management share the plan and show the benefits of the reports generated by the benchmarking tool.
  11. Planning for change. Regularly evaluate the benchmarking plan.

TAP provides state, local and tribal officials with resources to help them implement clean-energy policies and programs. TAP’s online Solution Center helps organizations implement energy efficiency activities.

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