While May 1st is the annual filing deadline for Benchmarking reports, it should also be considered your annual reminder for an internal evaluation of your building from an energy utilization perspective. If you have implemented some energy saving steps, your Benchmarking history gives you the opportunity to compare your year to year scores to see how much you have been able to move the Benchmarking needle in terms of measuring your results.

Benchmarking scores range from 1 to 100, with 100 being the best (or the most energy efficient). On a national basis, a Benchmarking score of 50 represents the median. Locally, however, the median score is 60 or a little better because of the concentration of higher efficiency buildings located in New York City. If your Benchmarking score is in the 60 range, then your building is an average NYC building user. If your building comes in with a higher score – even better. Higher Benchmarking scores could well qualify your building for Energy Star designation. Lower scores, however, should raise concerns and very low scores should raise big concerns.

If your building has a very low Benchmarking score, you would be advised to take action because low scores equal lost profits. But first, you must clearly and accurately identify the underlying cause. If your “budget” number is modest, you could engage a qualified engineer for a targeted energy assessment focusing on just heating and electrical consumption. For larger buildings with higher annual energy costs, the potential for lost profits becomes proportionately higher and an ASHRAE Level II energy audit may be in order. This higher level Energy Audit is similar to LL 87 Energy Audit and Retro-Commissioning requirements. If your building has recently complied with LL 87 requirements or soon will be, then your answers may be found in the reports that are prepared in conjunction with these LL87 audits.

For buildings with mid-range Benchmarking scores, a more measured approach would be recommended. Consider implementing a manageable number of energy saving steps annually as part of your long term capital budget. From an economic perspective, identify steps that tie in with available incentives. Qualifying for incentives from NYSERDA or Con Ed not only lowers the financial threshold for initiating energy savings retro-fits,  Con Ed and NYSERDA project involvement also brings disciplines to the retro-fit process which supports successful results.

With the currently available Con Ed rebates and proven energy savings from LED lighting products, consider starting your energy reduction program with a building wide LED retro-fit.  Your payback should fall into the one or two-year category. Forget the assumption that you need to compromise on the quality and look of your lighting when using LED products in order to achieve energy savings. Quite the opposite is true. With today’s cutting edge LED product availability, LED products are better in look and quality than most traditional lighting products. You will, however, need to work with a Con Ed Marketing Partner who has proven expertise in both structuring Con Ed incentives, as well as sourcing LED products directly from the manufacturer. To learn more about combining available Con Ed rebates with LED retro-fits, go to www.greenpartnersny.com.