The EPA manages the ENERGY STAR and WaterSense programs, including building energy efficiency scoring using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. Widely used as an industry standard, and the most public and comprehensive benchmarking system, ENERGY STAR bases its algorithm for a 1-100 score on a national data set called CBECS, the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey. Currently, the dataset is still based on CBECS 2003 data, which has been verified as the most accurate data set to date. CBECS 2012 data (interim data was not used due to inaccuracy) will be the new standard baseline used as of August 2018.
As buildings continue to get more efficient, and as reflected with the CBECS 2012 data, building ENERGYSTAR scores are likely to drop, now that they are being compared with a more high-performing building stock.
Why is this important?
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager uses 12 months of energy data and building profile characteristics to generate a score of how efficient a building is with respect to whole-building energy consumption (all fuel sources). It does this first by normalizing for floor area, using a metric called Energy Use Intensity, or EUI. The building characteristics and weather data are then used to further normalize energy usage, allowing a building anywhere in the US, of any size and vacancy level, to be compared with a national average for that building type. This national average is derived from CBECS data.
CBECS is comprised of a national survey conducted roughly every four years by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The latest dataset is CBECS 2012, which became available in 2016 after data-scrubbing and statistical analysis. This data will be implemented as the new ENERGY STAR baseline as of August this year.
The benefit of updating information to a new dataset is that it reflects a more efficient building stock for comparison. However, this does mean a reduction in scores is likely.
What does this mean?
On August 26th, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager will be updating the baseline, or median data, for comparison with the CBECS 2012 data for the following building types. This will also affect the Target Finder tool used for energy design targets for new construction projects.
- Bank branches
- Financial offices
- Houses of worship
- K-12 schools
- Retail, including retail store and warehouse club/supercenter
- Warehouses, including refrigerated, non-refrigerated, and distribution centers
After August 26th, Data Center metrics will also be updated. This will allow estimated IT energy usage, allowing a new path for certification where a sub-meter for IT use is not practical, as well as update the source energy factor used in calculating how much energy is needed at the power generation sources to deliver the site energy usage (what’s shown on billing statements).
As scores will be impacted mid-year, all buildings eligible for 2018 certification will be allowed a one-time exemption to certify early before the score updates (This is usually only allowed approx. twelve months from the previous certification; therefore, all buildings in the system have now been updated to a new eligibility date of April 30th). It is highly recommended that applicants submit before July 26th to guarantee scoring using the current metrics. Projects submitted between July 26th and August 26th may be evaluated under the new scoring metrics depending on the review timeline for the application.
Healthy Buildings is currently working to inform all our existing ENERGY STAR clients to certify early this year and take advantage of one more year of higher scores. Additionally, while we can’t know how scores will be updated exactly until later this August when the platform changes, we are happy to work with you to evaluate how your score may be affected. We have seen energy consumption decrease in buildings we work with, and this will now be reflected in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager’s new dataset.
The image below from ENERGYSTAR shows the anticipated score impacts. Please note that each building’s benchmarking profile is different, and specific score changes will be visible for any Portfolio Manager users when logging into the tool starting August 27th, 2018.