ENERGY STAR is a program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy which provides certification to buildings and consumer products that meet certain standards of energy efficiency. With sustainability of increasing importance to investors, consumers, and employees, it is important for your company to demonstrate its commitment to the planet by having energy efficient buildings. Because of the notoriety of ENERGY STAR, receiving high ENERGY STAR scores on your buildings is a great way to prove that your company is serious about sustainability.
So, what exactly is an ENERGY STAR score and how can your company increase its scores in the next reporting season? In this article, we’ll explore those questions in-depth.
What Is An ENERGY STAR Score, Exactly?
Your building’s ENERGY STAR score provides a comprehensive snapshot of your building’s energy performance. It assesses the building’s physical assets, operations, and occupant behavior in a quick and easy-to-understand number. Your ENERGY STAR score is on a scale of 1 – 100. The score is meant to be a screening tool that helps you assess your building’s efficiency performance. If you own and/or manage more than one building, the ENERGY STAR score will help you determine which buildings in your portfolio you could improve or submit for recognition. A score of 50 is the median, so if your building has a score lower than 50, you know it’s performing worse than 50 percent of similar buildings nationwide. Meanwhile, while a score over 50 means just the opposite – your building is performing better than 50 percent of its peers. Finally, a score of 75 or higher means your building is a top performer and may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.
3 Ways To Improve Your Scores
1. Utilize Automated Utility Bill Management and Real-Time Data Monitoring
Utility bill management is the number one thing your organization should be utilizing to achieve higher ENERGY STAR scores. Automated utility bill management gives you actual insight into how your buildings are performing. This involves using software to gather your utility data all in one place, and they analyze and audit it. This allows you to easily spot any high values and determine how your building are performing, i.e., how much energy they are using.
Real-time monitoring is an add-on that gives you more detailed insights into your energy usage. Real-time data monitoring allows you to determine what is going on in your building(s) at any given time. Utilizing real-time data monitoring allows you to see if there are any inefficiencies in your building, manufacturing, or facility operations before they translate into higher utility bills. For example, unexplained spikes in the data (or consistently high data points) could indicate an inefficiency. Real-time data monitoring also allows you to monitor the effectiveness of any efficiency projects that you implement.
2. Implement Energy Efficiency Projects
Each type of building/facility has different operational needs and thus different efficiency projects that can be implemented to improve energy efficiency and ENERGY STAR scores. (Stay tuned for content on how health, education, manufacturing, government, retail, and hospitality facilities can improve their energy efficiency and sustainability). For now, here’s some general energy efficiency projects facilities can implement:
- Add new (or more) insulation – Many old buildings lose a great deal of energy via air leaks and heat transfer. Adding or replacing insulation can help prevent energy loss and significantly improve your ENERGY STAR score.
- Install ENERGY STAR certified appliances – ENERGY STAR gives its certification to appliances and products that meet its rigorous energy efficiency standards. Click here to see a full list of ENERGY STAR products for businesses.
- Get an audit on your building(s) – To get a thorough understanding of your building’s energy usage, you may want to get a professional energy audit from a certified professional who will provide you the with guidance you need to make changes. Make sure to get professionally certified inspectors with an ASHRAE or CEM certification. Such inspectors can use thermal imaging tools to identify areas of your facility that are losing energy through heat, which can help identify air leaks and inefficient manufacturing equipment. They can also inspect your insulation, HVAC system, and lighting systems.
- Update your HVAC system – the HVAC, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, uses much of the energy in your building – The U.S. Small Business Administration notes that HVAC equipment accounts for 40 percent of energy usage in commercial buildings. Thus, it is essential that your HVAC is up to date and running efficiently.
- Measure and Verify Your Efficiency Projects – Once you have successfully implemented energy efficiency projects, the next step is to measure and verify them for effectiveness. Measurement and verification is the process of quantifying the energy and cost savings resulting from efficiency projects. Savings cannot be directly measured since they represent the absence of energy use. Instead, savings are determined by comparing measured use before and after implementation of a project, making appropriate adjustments for changes in conditions. The International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) and ASHRAE Guideline 14 provide specific procedures, frameworks, and standards for measurement and verification.
How WatchWire Can Help You Improve Your ENERGY STAR Scores
It is important to note that an ENERGY STAR score cannot explain why your building is performing in a certain way or tell you how to change your building’s performance for the better. It also cannot add up the energy used by each piece of equipment in your building or credit specific technologies with an aspect of performance. That’s where WatchWire comes in.
WatchWire is a market-leading, energy and sustainability data management platform that uses cloud-based software to collect, automize, analyze, and audit utility, energy, and sustainability data metrics. WatchWire offers automated utility bill management and real-time monitoring which help you pinpoint exactly when and where your operational inefficiencies are occurring (and what efficiency projects to implement). 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 and its capabilties, you can visit our website, blog, or resource library, request a demo, or follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter to keep up-to-date on the latest energy and sustainability insights, news, and resources.