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Energy Assessment & Benchmarking

Manage Energy Costs

 

There’s a saying, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” and it rings true when you’re thinking about ways to save energy. Benchmarking is a highly practical way to measure energy use in your buildings and is the first step in managing energy costs.

 

Four Reasons to Benchmark

  1. Benchmarking helps cities, counties, schools, and state government identify low or no-cost improvement opportunities.
  2. Benchmarking can help you demonstrate to others the value of your energy efficiency projects and show progress.
  3. Building benchmarking is often a requirement for energy-related funding opportunities available to your community.
  4. Benchmarking your buildings is a Best Practice Action for the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program.

What is B3 Benchmarking?

  • B3, which stands for Buildings, Benchmarks, and Beyond, is a robust online tool for tracking and managing energy use in public buildings.
  • B3 helps guide decision making by showing which buildings would benefit most from energy efficiency improvements. It also allows you to monitor progress as you invest in your community’s infrastructure.
  • B3 Benchmarking makes it easy for you to see how well your buildings are performing so you can plan effectively, optimize resources, ensure occupant comfort, and advance your mission.

B3 Screenshots

An Overview of B3 Features

  • Summary Tab: This high level view provides organizational information and the completeness of your B3 data.
  • Benchmarking Tab: Uses the engineering model of your building to show the Benchmark Index Ratio. This Ratio shows which buildings could see the most energy savings.
  • Peer Comparison Tab: Allows you to see how your sites compare to other sites within the B3 Benchmarking database.
  • Energy Star Tab: Allows you to compare whether your buildings are consuming more or less energy than a similar buildings nationwide by obtaining an ENERGY STAR rating.
  • Baseline Tab: Allows you to compare how your buildings are performing over time.
  • Improvements Tab: Allows you to set targets, both relative and absolute, for your entire organization and for buildings you manage.
  • Reports Tab: Allows you to visualize the energy performance of an organization or site for multiple time frames for all fuel sources: in dollars, carbon dioxide emissions, native units, or kBtus. kBtu/SF/Year is a very important number to know. It’s like the MPG for your car, but for your building.
  • Water Mode Overview: Allows you view and manage your water consumption at an individual site or organization. Water mode also has Summary, Baseline, and Reports tabs.
  • Exporting: Any view or report can be exported for use in Excel and other programs.

Dig Deeper

Be sure to correctly identify space usage type.

  • Selecting the correct space usage type is an important step in creating a building profile in a B3 account. The space usage type plays a major role when determining if a building is using too much energy. For example, if a middle school was misidentified as a library, it would appear to be performing very poorly, with higher than expected energy consumption. That is because an average library consumes less energy than a similarly sized middle school. The opposite is true if a library was labeled as a middle school. The building would appear to be excelling, with lower than expected energy consumption.
  • Many buildings have more than one space usage. B3 allows for the user to select multiple space usages and assign a percentage. If a single building was both a library covering 3,000 square feet and a city hall encompassing 7,000 square feet, the space usage would be 30% city hall, and 70% city hall.
  • It is important to read the description for the space usage types, because several building types already contain multiple usages. For example, the high school space usage type includes a cafeteria, gymnasium, and office space, so you would not want to add those space usages to the building editor. However, the high school profile does not include a pool, so you would want to add a pool usage type to the building. The user must calculate the percentages of the multiple space types based on square footage. For example, if the total square footage of high school is 250,000 and the square footage of the pool room is 5,000, the correct space usage description for the building would be: High School 98% and Pool 2%.

Pay extra attention to delivered fuels and billing dates

  • B3 allows users to add “meters” for the delivered fuels of propane, fuel oil and wood. These energy sources, however, are often not measure by meters in the traditional sense. Propane and other heating fuels are delivered as needed throughout the heating season, so regular meter reading data is not applicable.
  • To keep records of energy consumption of these fuels an organization may take monthly readings of their fuel tank via a gauge or dipstick and use this data similar to natural gas or electric meter readings. This option may be made more difficult in the winter, when fuel tanks may be hard to access.
  • Another option is to use the dates of delivery as the start date and the end date of the meter reading. For some buildings, the span between deliveries may be several months and B3 will take the total amount and calculate an average monthly consumption for the meter. This may not provide an accurate measurement of the amount of fuel consumed on a monthly basis, but does a good job at providing a yearly summary of energy consumption as well as a benchmark for the building.

Data Release

If your staff is using outside assistance for collecting billing data from your utility, a data release form may be required. Example data release form.

Access B3 Learning Center

Utilize the resources provided on the B3 website by clicking on Learning Center on the homepage menu. There you will find webinars, a glossary and a FAQ.

Download

B3 Benchmarking Factsheet

What is benchmarking?

 

Benchmarking is the practice of comparing the measured performance of a device, process, facility, or organization to itself, its peers, or established norms, with the goal of informing and motivating performance improvement.

When applied to building energy use, benchmarking serves as a mechanism to measure energy performance of a single building over time, relative to other similar buildings.

 

Get Started Saving Energy!

Whether you're a resident, business, or other organization, your building is unique and you can benefit from expert guidance about where to start making energy-saving improvements.

  1. Get informed: Log into your utility account or check out your most recent bill to learn about your energy use and see how you compare to others.
  2. Get an audit: Contact your utility today to see what types of energy assessments and related programs they offer.
  3. Get resources: Check out the assistance options, links, and videos below to learn more about how you can start saving energy and track your progress.

Videos