Buildings, regardless of shape, size or design – have one thing in common – they all consume energy.  The question – How much energy is your building consuming and is it too much?

In New York City, there is a simple answer to this question – Your building’s Benchmarking score.

Benchmarking scores range from 1 – 100. Higher scores indicate higher levels of energy efficiency and lower scores, lower levels of efficiency. A Benchmarking score of 50 represents the median level of energy consumption for buildings nationwide. In NYC the median score is somewhat higher – in the 60 range. If your building is 50,000 sq feet or more, your building should have filed a Benchmarking Report which includes your building’s individual Benchmarking score.

So back to the question – How much energy is your building consuming and is it too much? Check your Benchmarking score. If your building has a score in the 60 range, your building is an average energy user for NYC – as compared to similar buildings. If your building comes in with a higher score – even better. If your building has a score of 75 or more, your building is in the top tier of energy efficient buildings and may well qualify for an Energy Star rating.

Lower Benchmarking scores, however, tell a different story. Low scores equate to lower energy efficiency levels, which translate to high utility bills. What your low score is telling you is that your building is paying higher energy bills than it should be paying. Very low scores indicate that your bills are much higher than they should be – which should be a matter of concern. Your building can do better. Your energy bills should be lower.

If you find yourself with a building with a low score and high bills, here are some steps that you can take to correct the situation. Money spent on high utility bills caused by inefficiencies cannot be recovered. However, the situation can be corrected and brought under control with an action plan.

Before however, any action plan can be developed, the specifics of the inefficiencies need to be clearly identified. Just knowing that you have a low Benchmarking score and are spending too much on utility bills do not provide the needed information to correct the condition.

Some suggestions follow:

1)    Review your LL 87 Energy Audit:

One of the most effective approaches to determining the underlying causes (and solutions) behind high levels of energy consumption is an Energy Audit. NYC Local Law 87 requires an energy audit for buildings over 50,000 sq feet every ten years. If your building has had an  Energy Audit recently, your first step is to go back to your audit report and review the schedule of energy saving recommendations. Then prioritize these recommendations into a series of steps as part of your action plan.

Most every audit includes recommendations for a LED lighting retro-fit. LED retro-fits have a fast payback and can be implemented quickly. Depending on the size of the retro-fit, a LED retro-fit can result in a dramatic reduction of your electric expenses because of the high-efficiency levels of LED product as compared to traditional lighting. Other recommendations with fast paybacks will usually include upgraded heating controls and new insulation for heating pipes. Our recommended strategy is to start with energy saving measures that have fast paybacks and can be implemented quickly so that your goal of lower utility bills can be achieved as soon as possible.  Money saved from these fast payback energy saving measures can then be recycled to implement further energy saving measures.

2)    Initiate your LL 87 Audit:

If your building has not had a recent energy audit and does not have a readily available schedule of energy saving recommendations, check the Block Number for your building. The last number of your block determines the year that your LL 87 Energy Audit will be required. If your building is located on a Block that ends in a “6”, your LL 87 Energy Audit must be completed and filed in 2016.  If your Block Number ends in a “7”, then it will be due in 2017 and so on.

If your building is required to have an LL 87 Energy Audit in the near term, start the audit process now.  Request the energy auditor provide you with an initial schedule of energy saving recommendation with fast paybacks so that you can start your energy reduction action plan as soon as possible.

 3)    Targeted Energy Audit:

For those buildings that do not have a recent Energy Audit nor a near term Local Law 87 Audit requirement,  consider a targeted energy audit – limited to just your lighting and heating.  These are the areas that represent your largest utility expenses and therefore should offer best opportunities for energy reduction (and money saving) steps.

Benchmarking scores offer a valuable tool for owners and managers. Being able to compare your building to similar building in terms of energy consumption levels is valuable information that can be used to economic advantage. Used correctly, it can increase the bottom line for your building. Every dollar saved in energy expense is a dollar that drops to the profit line for your building. Energy efficient buildings also command higher rents, so you can benefit in two ways – 1) More revenue coming in from higher rents and 2) Lower utility expenses – both adding revenue to your profit line.

What’s not to like about this story.