Benchmarked: A case study from Montgomery College

May 7, 2015
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Benchmarked, a new energy blog series, examines local businesses who have used EPA’s Portfolio Manager to track energy use.

Company/Property Name: Montgomery College (MC): Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus (Est. 1950), Rockville Campus (Est. 1965), Germantown Campus (Est. 1978)


Image of Montgomery College logo


Name and Title: Crissie Manfre, Utility Analyst


How many buildings do you manage? The College manages 49 buildings totaling 2.5 million gross square feet, on three campuses.


Image of Montgomery College's sustainability logo


What kinds of building uses are in your buildings?

The College consists of classrooms, computer laboratories, offices, science and engineering laboratories, libraries, meeting rooms, gymnasiums, automobile and maintenance shops, shipping and receiving areas, storage areas, child care centers, swimming pools, central energy plants, greenhouses and a conference center.


When did your company begin benchmarking?

The College began benchmarking in the 1970’s, computerized the data in the mid-1980’s and converted to the current utility management tool, Energy CAP. Energy CAP has capabilities for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), compatible with Portfolio Manager.


Why did you begin benchmarking?

In the 1970’s, the Maryland State Department of General Services required benchmarking and annual reporting of Campus facilities. Benchmarking information has been included in the College’s annual Resource Conservation Plan since the late 1980’s. In May 2014, in response to the Benchmarking Legislation, Bill 2-14, the College began entering utility data into Portfolio Manager.


An image of the Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring

Cultural Arts Center on the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus, photo courtesy of Montgomery College.


Who has done (in the past) and does (if different now) your benchmarking in Portfolio Manager?

Since the 1970’s, it has been the responsibility of the Office of Central Facilities staff to review and approve utility bills for payment, correct billing errors, maintain records, and report usage and costs in the annual Resource Conservation Plan. The College recently hired a Utility Analyst whose duties include utility management and benchmarking.


How has benchmarking your energy use changed the way you manage your portfolio? What do you do now that you didn’t do before? 

The College’s buildings are similar to other multi-building properties. The buildings of the college have individual meters, share meters, and are served by central energy plants. Central energy plants consume fuels and utilities and distribute hot water and chilled water to buildings for heating and cooling. To simplify analysis, the College has traditionally combined all utilities and fuels and reported benchmarking by campus. This is the method currently being used in Portfolio Manager to report the early bird results for MC. The College has also apportioned shared utilities to each building based upon that building’s gross square foot area, but that is a rough estimate. MC plans to be more accurate by activation of installed automated building control sub-metering. This information will improve operations and will bring awareness to building occupants about energy conservation and management.


Aerial photo of Rockville Campus' Science Center

Science Center on the Rockville Campus, photo courtesy of Montgomery College.


Have you done anything that drastically improved a building score? If yes, what?

Since the 1980’s the College has implemented best practices through integrated life cycle management (ILM), utility management and resource conservation into the daily routine of the institution. Master plans, utility master plans and building condition assessments are administrative tools used to evaluate and continuously improve the College’s building stock. High performance buildings and central plant designs are combined with enhanced commissioning to ensure a quality built environment which enhances student success. Efficiency improvements are integrated into equipment retrofit and coordinated with utility incentives. The College’s Benchmarking goal is to meter building energy consumption more accurately and use this information to identify opportunities to improve building performance.


What building’s energy performance are you most proud of, and why?

The College has been designing high performance buildings and central plants since the late 1980’s. Most recently the College has had the opportunity to design and build two high performance teaching laboratory buildings: the Science Center on the Rockville Campus and the Bioscience Education Center on the Germantown Campus. Both are high energy density teaching laboratory facilities but have either achieved or are targeted to achieve the coveted LEED Gold building status.


What advice would you give for anyone benchmarking for the first time?

Enter a year’s worth of electrical meter data from a simple building to understand Portfolio Manager and to see how that building compares to national averages. Use the educational tools available on the Portfolio Manager’s website and look at this process as an opportunity to improve energy performance and improve the bottom line.

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