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By Angela Maas, Managing Editor
Energy Efficiency Article Use Policy
One of the common misconceptions about Energy Star and Portfolio Manager is that tracking a building's energy use would be too much work to be beneficial.
Excuse: Using Energy Star is too much work.
"Not really," says Lindsay Audin, president of Energywiz, Inc. "It essentially consists of tracking bills month by month or year by year and entering the data into a spreadsheet." Besides, he contends, "This is due diligence every building should be doing on itself anyway."
"In our experience, Energy Star — and the Portfolio Manager tool — are simple and easy to use," says Schechtman. "These tools provide great value, especially when they have been mastered. As with any new system there is a learning curve, but Energy Star tools are intuitive."
Lupinacci offers the following three steps "that can get a new organization off on the right foot":
1. "At a bare minimum, an organization can join Energy Star as a partner," a mainly online process that "only requires the head of the organization to make a formal commitment to reducing energy use and emissions. It's a simple step, but we've found that the formal commitment carries a lot of weight," she says.
2. A facility "can use our Guidelines for Energy Management as a road map for creating an energy management program that will actually work. It's based on real-life practices of hundreds of companies that have already been down this road and can save countless hours by doing things right the first time."
3. And then, she says, "it is critical to measure your energy use and know where you start." Companies can choose to enter data for one of their buildings or all of them, explains Lupinacci. "This can be done manually using the tool's built-in wizard, or it can be done through a bulk upload or a third-party provider who will digitally upload utility bill data into the tool."
Excuse: If my building gets a low Energy Star score, it will be bad news for us.
"A weight loss analogy works well here," says Lupinacci. "Many of us do not like what we see when we step on the bathroom scale. But knowledge is power. Armed with information about how you are doing, you're much better able to make a plan to improve. As a first step, we always recommend that buildings 'step on the scale' to see how they stack up against similar buildings in the country.
"EPA doesn't see or have any way to publish this information, so it stays within the account holder's private account," she adds.
"Nothing motivates action quite like knowing that you are vastly underperforming against your peers, and that can be a powerful force for change," asserts Lupinacci. "You may feel overwhelmed upon seeing such a low score and daunted by the road ahead. However, at the low end of the scale, big wins are easier to come by." That's because there are often low- or no-cost improvements that can have a big impact on the Energy Star score and the bottom line.
Getting a low score, says Carlos Santamaria, vice president, engineering services for Glenborough, "is a good thing because it's an opportunity to add real value to the asset." Facility managers can improve net operating income and asset value by looking at cost-effective ways to operate their buildings more efficiently.
That could be done through not only the installation of more energy-efficient equipment but also the correct use of equipment and adherence to energy-saving policies, says Audin. He cites a New York building that was having a problem with leakage in the cooling tower, which increased its water consumption 39 percent from one year to the next. The tower was working, but a valve wasn't properly closing, so the building was wasting water.
Misconceptions About Energy Star Can Prevent Facility Managers From Seeing Its Benefits
Time Commitment For Energy Star Portfolio Manager Is Work That Should Already Be Done
Improving Building's Energy Performance Brings Additional Benefits As Well