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In Benchmarking Studies, Account for Differences Among Buildings


Benchmarking is a hot topic among facility executives as well as top management. And the appeal is easy to understand. By comparing one facility’s measured performance against data from others in the organization or the industry, a facility executive may be able to identify opportunities for improvement.

But in any benchmarking exercise, it is crucial to pay heed to differences among facilities being measured. Even among buildings of a similar type, all sorts of differences can have a significant effect on the results — the size of the building, location, hours of operation, even the time when data was gathered.

A sophisticated benchmarking process takes differences into account. For example, the Energy Star Portfolio Manager, an online tool for benchmarking energy performance, ranks building energy performance on a scale of 1 to 100. It not only groups buildings by type – for example, office buildings or schools – but also factors in weather variations and physical and operational characteristics of buildings.

Can a benchmarking effort be useful even if it doesn’t offer the same level of sophistication as the Energy Star process? It certainly can be. The important thing to remember is that the benchmarking analysis should take into account differences as well as similarities among buildings in the data base. The greater the differences, the more the results of the analysis have to be adjusted for those differences.

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