By Barry Giles
Benchmarking existing buildings can be complex, especially in today’s marketplace with more and more options becoming available. It is hard to decide between a free energy standard or something with depth and a higher price point. Some programs may involve a long-term contract and results that take months to report.
Long-term contracts do have their place. Larger ESCo’s provide a valuable service, as do the manufacturers and operators of Building Management Systems (BMS) found in many Class A buildings. Each system gathers valuable data and provides guidelines for energy reductions that can save property owners valuable energy dollars.
However, outside this group of Class A buildings, the cost-value numbers really decrease dramatically for these in-depth programs. A long-term contract or one requiring a large upfront payment loses its attraction when the bills for the analysis exceed the income from tenants. Most Class B and C building owners or operators don’t have the time or budget to invest. Instead, they tend to pick quick results rather than strategic long-term solutions, when improving their properties.
Successful benchmarking needs to answer three basic questions:
- How is the building performing now in comparison to others?
- Where should management direct effort and dollars?
- Are the answers trustworthy and based on science?
Question #1: How is your building performing in comparison to others?
Typical statements such as “We’re going to reduce our carbon footprint by 30% in comparison to our 2001 levels” are difficult to really measure. What does it actually mean? To make a valid assessment it is important to review more data, specifically:
- How was the carbon footprint of the building measured in 2001?
- What component parts were included – did they include activities such as corporate travel?
- Who peer reviewed the results in 2001? And, who will review the data today?
Clearly it is important to assess the starting point and ensure that the initial information is robust and real.
Question #2: Where should effort and dollars be put?
The building benchmark must provide many options to make informed and strategic decisions. If the benchmark process only asks energy questions, then the answers are only going to provide results attributed to energy – an important but limited aspect of the building.
To get a robust and comprehensive result, specific questions must be asked across a broad range of operational aspects. Answers, then, must be available that will provide findings to make informed decisions on improvements to the building. The BREEAM In-Use program looks at all the component parts of a building and builds a comprehensive table that gives you lots of options to choose from.
Finally, onto question #3: Are the answers trustworthy and based on science?
Developed by academia and based on in-depth scientific research, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) developed BREEAM over 25 years ago and has generated data sets that are used to improve the built environment worldwide.
BRE conducts intensive scientific research into all aspects of the built environment, and profits from BREEAM are turned back into the research community through such avenues as universities around the world. In fact, approximately $75,000,000 has been transferred into research grants from BRE products so that others can benefit. This helps to reinforce that BRE’s scientific results are peer-reviewed and trustworthy.
Each question in the nine (9) categories has, in most cases, multiple answers that provide increased improvement in buildings operations. There’s no guessing what work needs to be done to take your building to the next level of improvement. It’s right there in front of you and in real time. That’s how BREEAM can produce a robust and comprehensive benchmark in record time.
BRE prides itself on remaining beyond reproach and embraces a partnership with you as we build a better world together. Our cutting-edge research brings positive change in the built environment through over 2,250,000 projects registered with BREEAM and over 550,000 certifications awarded worldwide.
That’s a lot of data.
That’s why BREEAM is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It’s the science behind it.
BREEAM In-Use Online Tool Screenshots