In fact, they are already here and being used widely in Energy Star Portfolio Manager and by cities requiring energy reporting. I’ve recently had many conversations with colleagues and clients about Btus. Btu = British thermal unit, and is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. But why are we looking at this unit? We’re already overwhelmed trying to understand kWh, therms, CCF, pounds, Mlbs, gallons, etc!
When discussing building energy usage, the best measure to understand usage and compare it to other buildings is Energy Intensity. Intensity, meaning energy per square foot per year. And the best energy unit to use? You got it, Btu. Buildings use more than just electricity to heat, cool, and operate but too often are concerned only with total kilowatt hours per month. Steam, natural gas, oil, etc, are just as important but are reported in a variety of units. Converting all energy units to Btu normalizes energy into one convenient number by which buildings can be compared to each other. A building’s rating in Energy Star Portfolio Manager is based on its energy intensity number. But what if your building cannot obtain a rating (for a variety of reasons)? You can still use Portfolio Manager to generate your kBtu/SF-year and gain a better understanding of how your building is operating.