Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

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Assess Building Performance

We recently announced our release of the Reducing Your Carbon Footprint report. This report details a five-step process to help your business or building reduce their carbon footprint!

Here, we want to introduce you to the first step of the report: Assess Building Performance. Tracking and reporting your building’s energy performance is a key first step because it allows you to understand whether your building is performing as designed and can identify opportunities to make energy efficiency improvements, investments or operational changes that save money, reduce carbon emissions, and improve the building occupant experience.  

How do you start tracking and reporting energy data?

  1. We recommend beginning by collecting energy use data for all major systems and functions in your organization and baseline energy consumption of your building to measure future results of efficiency efforts. At a minimum, collect data by fuel type at an individual building. Using a tracking system to organize your data and benchmark performance over time is commended. For commercial and institutional buildings and properties, we recommended using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®,  a free web-based energy tracking and benchmarking. Learn more about getting started with this tool here
  2. Once you have started to track data, starting to understand your building’s performance begins with an energy assessment. An energy assessment is typically performed by internal staff, a contractor, vendor, or utility company. It includes 1-2 hours of onsite assessment focused on major systems (mechanical, electrical, building envelope, and processes). Generally, a 1-page report will include a bulleted list of potential opportunities for energy efficiency and management and is usually free or low cost.
  3. Often done in conjunction with an energy assessment, full energy audits can be conducted by energy professionals to evaluate the facility systems and equipment of your building against their designed performance level. ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, has developed standards related to audits.  The ASHRAE Level I Energy Audit process begins with a brief walk-through of the building by the energy professional. Following the site visit, an estimate of the approximate energy use breakdown will be derived. The final report can then be shown to the owner of your building. This gives you the opportunity to discuss next steps, including the potential of conducting a more in-depth ASHRAE Level II Audit. 
  4. If possible, conducting an ASHRAE Level II Energy Audit is recommended as this is a more in-depth analysis and utilizes investigation, including data logging or other measurement methods, to verify current operating conditions and comparison to the original design intent. You will receive a report that includes a summary of each major energy end-use and its estimated cost, a building description and inventory of major energy-using equipment, a list of impractical measures and justification for elimination, a list of practical measures, a table summarizing the costs, savings, and financial performance of each measure, differences between this and results of Level I, recommended measurement and verification methods for energy efficiency measures, and a discussion of capital intensive measures that may warrant further study. 

To learn more about the Assessing Building Performance step, be sure to access the full  Reducing Your Carbon Footprint report here. Stay tuned to our blog, as we’ll be going into more detail soon on the next step: Create goals and an action plan