Benchmarking and energy auditing tools to help cut energy costs
Montgomery County’s Benchmarking Law requires certain buildings to track their energy use, have the data verified, and report it to the County’s Department of Environmental Protection. (Learn about the law).
Benchmarking to comply with the law is an important first step, but how can owners and managers utilize the data to help their buildings use energy more efficiently?
Sub-metering different systems and tenants in the buildings, hiring a company to conduct an onsite assessment, or using software to analyze energy trends are all options – but doing all that can be time-consuming and may require technology, knowledge, and staff that many companies just may not have.
What to do with all that data?
One Montgomery County-based business—SOL VISTA—helps owners comply with the County’s benchmarking requirements using a tool called Skywalk®, a comprehensive utility data analytics platform that proactively manages and gives a detailed look into a building’s utility use and costs.
“We’re not just an analytics company,” said Zack Moore, SOL VISTA co-founder and Senior Vice President of Customer Solutions. “We’re a building performance company.”
This platform automates utility data aggregation and meter read data handling and analyzes and reports on utility use. It provides a monthly brief highlighting:
- any building issues;
- site-specific automated alerts to help correct issues;
- an automatic connection to ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager and other utility reporting platforms; and
- an annual utility cost breakdown that incorporates baselining, changing commodity rates, and implemented efficiency projects.
Take data analytics a step further with an energy audit
Energy management platforms like Skywalk provide insight, but for many buildings, an onsite energy assessment is a necessary next step to achieve energy savings.
“The assessment has two major goals – saving energy and saving money,” said Juan C. Diaz-Romero, building engineer for The Parkview at Spring Street office building in Silver Spring.
After their assessment, The Parkview at Spring Street replaced existing garage fixtures with LED lights and made temperature setting changes to balance the heat load transfer from natural sunlight.
Based on the changes recommended as a result of the assessment and ongoing alerts from Skywalk, The Parkview building has seen 5% and 19% reductions in energy and water use. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and operating costs, the building also saw a 7-point increase in its ENERGY STAR score.
Whether you have a short lease or owned a building for decades, monitoring utility use and making small corrective adjustments can have a big payoff. The 61-year-old Bethesda Court Hotel is closing soon to make room for the new Marriott headquarters. Despite plans to close its doors, the hotel continues to reduce its energy use through continued Skywalk monitoring and onsite diligence.
In the last year, the Bethesda Court Hotel has seen an 18% decrease in energy use and a 7% reduction in GHG emissions. Asset manager Alec Sherman noted that their efforts to educate staff about energy savings included more focused efforts to encourage the team to turn lights off in guest rooms when possible. Ongoing monitoring and educating staff about energy savings led to a 9-point increase in the building’s ENERGY STAR score.
With all of the available data analytics tools on the market, benchmarking a building doesn’t have to be a time-intensive process. Using technology to spot energy and water use trends and target areas for improvement could help your organization cut utility costs and save time.
Story by Kimberly Hodges and Felicia Hodges
The creative team of Kimberly Hodges, Antoinette Charles-Aqui, and Felicia Hodges work together to cover a variety of environmental, community and public service events throughout the Capital region.