How do you know if you are a potential candidate for improvements in energy efficiency? You may feel your energy bill is fairly stable and perhaps even affordable (for the moment) but what if your competition is paying much less? How do you know if you are paying too much?
Energy Benchmarking your building or facility could be an interesting exercise to see where you stand. It is the comparison of energy use relative to a set of similar buildings. It provides a very useful starting point for individual energy audits and for identifying energy-saving measures. It helps guide building operators in determining if there is a potential for significant improvement in energy efficiency and reduction in energy operating costs.
Calculating your Energy Cost Index (ECI) is sometimes used as a simple measure of energy efficiency. The ECI is the annual energy spend per conditioned square foot and is a very basic way to measure yourself against others and your own past performance.
ECI = Total Energy Spend ($) / Area (ft²)
A Productivity Index is also an effective and easy way to evaluate and monitor your energy efficiency over time. Examples of a productivity index are:
- Btu/person, Btu/ton, Btu/item produced
- kWh/person, kWh/ton, kWh/item produced
But your competitors are not exactly going to open their books to you so what to do? The Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC), sponsored by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has developed a benchmarking and best practices program for Canada’s industrial sectors. The program is designed to help industry achieve significant energy efficiency gains. CIPEC, in collaboration with its association partners, has established indicators to enable industrial companies to compare their energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and practices with similar operations. These indicators can help guide industry toward achieving greater energy efficiency by identifying energy cost-saving opportunities for each industrial sector. CIPEC offers benchmarking guides and publications for the following sectors:
Another good source of information is the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). It is a national survey that collects information on U.S. commercial buildings, their energy-related building characteristics, and their energy consumption and expenditures. The following graph illustrates typical Energy Use Indices for various types of commercial buildings.
The Energy Use Index or EUI is a basic measure of a facility’s energy performance. It is the ratio of total Btu’s of energy used annually to the total ft² of conditioned space.
EUI = Total Energy (Btu) / Area (ft²)
Also in the U.S. is the Energy Information Administration (EIA). This government agency collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. The most recent published survey took place in 2003 and provides a plethora of energy data for comparison purposes.
Once you have calculated your productivity index, compared your energy usage to similar buildings or facility what then? If you are spending less, keep up the good work! If you are spending more, an energy audit could be a good next step to find the culpable energy guzzlers.
Stay tuned for Part 2 – Benchmarking Tools