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Benchmarking building energy performance can be a necessary evil for maintenance and engineering managers.
Necessary because to curtail energy use and build support for capital projects in commercial and institutional facilities, managers need to establish a baseline from which they can measure and improve the efficiency of building systems and components. Evil because depending on the organization’s approach to maintaining and operating those systems in the past, benchmarking can uncover energy deficiencies and offer a glimpse at the long road to improving building performance.
For Highland Hospital, benchmarking was the first step toward joining the top 15 percent of energy-efficient hospitals in the United States. Managers at Highland, a 450,000-square-foot, 261-bed facility in Rochester, N.Y., benchmarked the facility’s energy performance with Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager and earned an 88 rating on a 100-point scale. In 2008, the hospital earned an Energy Star label, which is only available to facilities with a rating of 75 or higher.
“We have a group of buildings that were built in pieces over the last 80 years, so I was quite surprised that we ranked that well in Energy Star,” says Michael Zanghi, the hospital’s director of facilities. “As you add more buildings and different systems, they don’t always tend to be added in the most efficient manner.”
With a baseline in place, the challenge for managers is to sustain — and improve — the hospital’s energy performance. Managers are focusing on daily maintenance practices related to HVAC and electrical systems, for example, to ensure the systems are operating at peak condition. Managers are planning a handful of capital projects not only to become more efficient but also to accommodate the technology advances of the evolving hospital environment.