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Energy Benchmarking: A Review

“How do we know how much we have improved?”
Ankur TharejaAnkur Thareja, CMVP, CEA, IGBC-AP
Sr Consultant
Energy Solutions
Wipro Eco Energy


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A beginner in any industry can easily be perplexed by the variety of technical jargons being used. The energy efficiency industry is no exception. Moreover, the scope of these terminologies have undergone years of evolution to arrive at the current definitions. Through this article, I would like to share some insights on “Energy Benchmarking”. These views are based on study materials, which I often refer to, available on the internet.

With rising concerns of energy usage across all sectors, there is a manifold increase in the number of industries that are looking at implementing measures to reduce the energy consumption in their facilities. In their efforts to establish an efficient energy performance plan, the energy managers often have to encounter questions like “How are we doing currently?” and after the implementation of energy reduction measures “How do we know how much we have improved?”

Methods and Standards such as ISO 14001, Energy Monitoring and Targeting, ISO 50001 are all aimed to improve energy management by setting targets. Energy Performance Tracking also known as Energy Benchmarking is often the first step towards achieving long term energy efficiency goals as it defines the building’s energy saving potential. Simply put, a benchmarking is an ongoing energy performance review to determine if a building is getting better or worse in comparison to itself, other buildings in the portfolio, and/or peers.

Monitoring, which is the regular collection of information on energy use, is a key component of
energy benchmarking. Its purpose is to establish a basis of management control, to determine when and why energy consumption is deviating from an established pattern, and as a basis for taking management action where necessary. Monitoring is essentially aimed at preserving an established pattern.

Energy benchmarking is a powerful tool to identify strong opportunities for reduced consumption and defining energy performance targets and alongside monitoring improvements in energy efficiency.

Energy Performance Tracking

Types of Benchmarking

As per ECO-III(pdf) project there are two types of benchmarks for Whole Building:

Internal Benchmarking: Well documented historical data helps to bring out energy consumption and cost trends months-wise/ day-wise. Trends can be identified by examining energy consumption, cost, relevant production features, specific energy consumption, etc. over time, and can help identify the effects of capacity utilization on energy use efficiency and costs on a broader scale. Internal Benchmarking is mostly dependent on variable parameters and need to be normalized for right analysis. Variable parameters are dependent of type of facility e.g. for industrial it could be per production unit, for hotels it could be weather and booked room nights, for offices it is usually only weather, and for variable shift offices it could be
weather and operating hours, etc.

External benchmarking: Relates to inter-unit comparison across a group of similar units. However, it would be important to ascertain similarities, as otherwise findings can be grossly misleading. Few comparative factors, which need to be looked into while benchmarking externally are:

Current researchers and scholars further divide benchmarking (Whole Building) based on level
of performance (Sometimes called ‘Action Oriented Benchmarking(pdf)) into:

Portfolio or Whole Building level benchmarks are normally sub-categorized into internal and external benchmarks. These Whole Building benchmarks are sometimes used by Federal Systems for assessing the compliance as part of their rating system. Both Energy Star and ECO-III use this methodology. These are normally operational benchmarks without
emphasizing/normalizing on asset type.

Asset/System level benchmarking: Includes more intricate details that help to benchmark at system level. One example of a tool is EnergyIQ. EnergyIQ provides ways to quickly develop standardized graphs to compare whole-building-level and system-level energy performance.

Equipment/component level benchmarking: Mostly use data from manufacturers or simulation for cases based on DOE2 simulation engine. This level of benchmarking is currently not very functional and requires more sophisticated data and methods.

As per CBERD report(pdf) on Benchmarking in India accuracy and granularity has following relation,
which determines use of benchmarking in Energy Management.

Benchmarking Accuracy


Benefits of benchmarking:

Benchmarking buildings enable building managers to:


Typical challenges faced by energy managers while benchmarking are:


Plenty of information related to this topic is available on public forums. The intent of this post was to expose young budding engineers to terms and basics of Energy Benchmarking. Some more study references are mentioned below:

About the Author:

Ankur Thareja is a Senior Consultant – Energy Solutions at Wipro Eco Energy with a career span of almost 13 years focusing on delivering solutions for energy and controls. His areas of expertise include Integrated Building Management Systems, Energy Management Solutions, Remote Monitoring, Performance Contracting, and Intelligent/Smart Buildings.

He is Certified Energy Auditor (CEA) from Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP) by Efficiency Valuation Organization (EVO) and an Accredited Professional from Indian Green Building Congress (IGBC).


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