If you care about building energy use, then you’ve probably figured out that a good way to get a handle on your energy efficiency efforts is to benchmark energy performance. But what do you compare with? And how do you get a big enough yardstick to measure?
Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Energy has a partial answer in the CBECS database.
CBECS stands for Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, and it is usually compiled every four years by the U.S. Department of Energy. The CBECS survey data is available to the public, but don’t go jumping online in a hurry to download the data relevant to your building. You might never find it. That’s where the free Building Benchmarks website comes in really handy.
How Does It Work?
BuildingBenchmarks.com offers a simple presentation of the latest CBECS data. Anyone can download the CBECS database files from the U.S. Department of Energy, but the raw data cannot be easily used. You could spend hours trying to find the data you need, interpret the data file formats, and link the various data fields together into a meaningful report. BuildingBenchmarks.com is a user-friendly website that locates the data you're interested in from CBECS and simplifies and displays it immediately.
CBECS data is valuable. And BuildingBenchmarks.com uses that data to create a “benchmark” for your building using composite energy data from hundreds of buildings like yours. It's an easy way to see how your building uses energy compared to its peers.
To perform this magic, BuildingBenchmarks.com uses its proprietary Energy Benchmark Wizard to take you through a short online form that asks you four simple questions about your building:
- The ZIP code (this provides the building LOCATION).
- The square footage range (this helps ‘match’ your building to others of similar size).
- The building primary use (there are 16 building types including ‘other’).
- The year construction was completed (helps compare buildings of the same approximate age).
What Does it Tell You?
Once you input your data, all you have to do is click the Show My Report button. BuildingBenchmarks.com will provide a personalized benchmarking report including:
- Electricity Consumption Breakdown (by activity type)
- Average Annual Electricity Consumption
- Natural Gas Consumption Breakdown (by activity type)
- Average Annual Natural Gas Consumption
The information is presented in an attractive graphical and tabular format. Here's an example of the type of data available:
And if you have a screen-capture program on your computer, it’s easy to share and save your custom report information. Or just come back to the site whenever you need to display your data.
BuildingBenchmarks.com is great for answering questions like:
- Is my building relatively efficient or inefficient compared with its peer group?
- If I build a building or buy one, what can I expect the annual energy usage to be?
- What is the estimated operational breakdown of building energy usage?
- How does energy usage vary in different parts of the country?
- Should I invest in energy management projects in my building?
All this information is free. Why not try it out today?