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Don't Underestimate the Importance of Benchmarking


The Department of Energy reports that buildings that benchmark energy use save an average of 2.4 percent over buildings that don't benchmark. That means that just knowing your energy use and how it compares to similar buildings is in and of itself an energy-saving strategy.

It's one of those odd statistics that simultaneously makes sense, but also may sound too good to be true. Indeed when a presenter at last month’s NFMT quoted this statistic, several hands shot up to ask "How?!" The answer was a variable of the tried-and-truism "you can't manage what you don't measure." In other words, much like trying to lose weight or managing your investment portfolio, simply being conscious of current data points is the first step to positive outcomes. If something seems off, you're more likely to take correct action immediately.

Later in the conference, in a session about high-performance buildings, a panelist was discussing the importance of benchmarking, and an attendee raised his hand and explained he thought it was a too-basic point to bring up at a conference for facility managers. Maybe he was right – but the panelist had a great response: "You're right, benchmarking is a relatively basic strategy. But if it's so obvious, why isn't everyone doing it?"

If you're not benchmarking energy use, why not? What are the hesitations? Time? Resources? Etc.? You've probably heard about the increasing number of benchmarking ordinances across the country (See the "High-Performance Strategies" article below for more on that), so if you're not benchmarking energy use, it may be only a matter of time before you have to.

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