Benchmarking for Sustainable Building Investments

As we approach World Green Building Week, we are reminded to build, maintain, and invest in energy efficient buildings.

Making smart building investments is key in commercial real estate. Benchmarking is an everyday practice that allows us to understand how well a building is performing against our expectations. We can compare a building’s performance to similar buildings or against a performance level.

Asset vs. Operational Benchmarks

Focusing on building energy-efficiency, there are two primary types of benchmarks: asset and operational.

Asset Benchmarks measure a building’s predicted energy performance based on physical and structural characteristics. 

To create an asset benchmark, an engineer conducts an energy simulation of the building’s design characteristics and installed systems using a set of standard operating conditions. These benchmarks provide a clear picture of how a building is expected to perform based only on its physical features.

Asset benchmarks are most commonly applied during the design of new construction and renovation projects, where they can guide energy-efficiency decisions during the project and help predict overall post-construction energy performance.

Operational Benchmarks measure a building’s energy performance based on actual energy consumption over a given time period. 

These benchmarks are influenced by a building’s structural characteristics and systems, so they most often reflect the energy consumed during operation in tenanted spaces and common areas. Therefore, building managers use operational benchmarks to determine whether energy efficiency is optimized in operations and management practices. Because newly constructed buildings lack historical energy-usage data, operational benchmarks apply only to existing buildings. 

Informed Energy-Efficiency Investments

Benchmarking represents the process of understanding the current status and position within a specific environment, as compared to an established standard. Investors use the information obtained from benchmarking to evaluate the effectiveness of any energy-efficiency investments made, and to determine if corrective action is required when the results are not as expected. Benchmarking is not just a data collection exercise; instead, the aim is to deliver actionable information to the user.

BOMI International's High-Performance Sustainable Buildings (BOMI-HP®) Designation Program provides learners with an in-depth understanding of how to define, initiate, and obtain a return on investment for sustainable initiatives within all segments of a building or portfolio. This three-course program delivers an integrated and practical curriculum to further enhance the competencies of industry professionals who are responsible for implementing sustainable initiatives.

This article is adapted from BOMI International’s High-Performance Sustainable Building Investments, part of the BOMI-HP®More information regarding this course or the BOMI-HP credential is available by calling 1.800.235.2664. Visit BOMI International’s website, www.bomi.org.

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