What is Energy Benchmarking

Energy Benchmarking is a strategic practice that enables commercial and institutional building owners to accelerate their energy efficiency. According to a recent report on Portfolio Manager DataTrends by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), buildings that consistently benchmark energy use save 2.4% every year.

This comprehensive guide describes the value of energy benchmarking in energy auditing, the way it is conducted, the benefits of energy benchmarking, and how it can be the key element of your organization’s energy management strategy. If you have any questions or additional tips to add, let us know!

Benchmarking is an Energy Audit

An energy audit provides a thorough walk-through of how efficiently a buildings’ energy systems perform and how they can be optimized for better performance. ASHRAE defines three levels of energy audits that can be taken as a “benchmark” to discover new energy savings and cost reduction opportunities. Read more about energy audits in our best-rated guide to the benefits of commercial energy audits.

How Benchmarking is Performed

Successful energy benchmarking relies on accurate data, and the right way to access it depends on the type of benchmarking you choose. There are three main categories of benchmarking; each of these is set forth below for your reference and convenience.

Internal Benchmarking

By far the easiest, internal benchmarking attempts to raise performance metrics within the same company organization. It can involve internal comparisons between departments, divisions, offices, or even agencies that work towards a shared goal.

Strategic Benchmarking

Strategic benchmarking refers to identifying and analyzing best practices of successful companies and implementing them in your own firm. This technique is more suited to companies that aim to revamp their strategies or go outside their industries.

Competitive Benchmarking

Competitive benchmarking works well for companies that belong to the same niche. It provides real-time quantifiable insights into how your company performs on different levels.

Competitive benchmarking can be of great help if you aim to optimize your brand strategy and outperform competitors.

Energy Benchmarking Action Plan

As per the report, “New York City’s roadmap to 80×50,” larger NYC buildings shall have to cut 80 percent of their citywide carbon emissions by 2050. The annual report on nationwide GHG emissions demonstrates that the U.S. carbon footprint has already declined by 12% from 2005 to 2018. However, efficiency gains are still several tons away to reach the goal. Below is an eight-step energy benchmarking plan you can adopt to speed up building energy savings.

Step 1: Calibrate Performance

Before you apply energy benchmarking, critical is to calibrate the performance of your building. This initial step is the baseline of the entire benchmarking process, as it helps you identify energy performance gaps in your building. The areas with relatively higher energy use and GHG emissions will be the focus of this benchmarking process and shall benefit the most from it.

Step 2: Create a Visual Report

The next step is creating a report to get a know-how of what needs to be done, where, and how. You must also elicit current limitations in the building and the changes they can impose. This report will help you eliminate roadblocks while uncovering opportunities for process growth and improvement.

Step 3: Select Your Competitors

Once you’ve finalized the areas of improvement, identify your current and potential competitors whose activities can be adapted to your requirements. A high-level competitive analysis requires you to develop an in-depth understanding of your industry and competitors, including their strengths and weaknesses.

Step 4: Gather Information

Create a robust plan to extract relevant data from your competition. Analyze and compare your products with theirs to identify where you lack and where you win. This analysis report shall be the keystone for helping you capitalize on your shortcomings and leverage your strengths to overcome challenges.

Step 5: Set Clear Objectives

Upon completing step 4, you should have a list of actions your best practice competitors follow. Refine it to narrow your results. The final will be a set of best benchmarking practices you can implement to gain an edge over your competition and unlock success.

Step 6: Reveal Findings & Entice Customers

Communicate the benchmarking results to your customersㅡmotivate them to carry out the changes, and do more business with you. More sales will ultimately produce more revenue to help you catalyze additional energy-saving opportunities.

Step 7: Track Progress

Track how your benchmarking plan works and identify gaps in it to drive continuous improvements. Also, prepare a thorough report to discover the benefits of these improvements. This will enable involved parties and stakeholders to know what’s going on.

Step 8: Keep the Process Going

Energy benchmarking is a complex process, and continuous improvements can help you drive faster results! You must continually evaluate your benchmarking practices as needed. This will enable you to understand when and how to optimize building operations to ensure energy efficiency.

Benefits of Energy Benchmarking

Benchmarking not only reduces the amount of energy consumed but also facilitates comparing a building’s energy performance to its peers. This expedites the quantification and verification of new energy-saving opportunities. Below, we’ve outlined five proven benefits of benchmarking. If you need professional help with energy benchmarking, we recommend checking our automated energy efficiency solutions.

Benefit 1: Increased Energy Efficiency

Energy benchmarking is the cornerstone of effective energy management. According to the data taken from Energy Star, decreasing 30% of commercial real estate energy costs is equivalent to a whopping 4 percent yield on net operating income.

Benefit 2: Energy Performance Quantification

Commercial buildings can be very complex. Benchmarking provides a measurable way to evaluate building performance and identify gaps among the systems whose features are not readily available to observe or inspect.

Benefit 3: Achieving Carbon Neutrality

Reducing carbon footprint is certainly the only way to combat global warming. Energy benchmarking, besides just lowering energy costs, can cut 70% of carbon emissions from both new and existing buildings.

Benefit 4: Data-Driven Decisions

By evaluating key energy consumption patterns in your building, energy benchmarking enables smarter decisions. You can unleash new opportunities and optimize capital investments into emerging energy-efficient technologies.

Benefit 5: Greater Tenant Comfort

A high-performance building ensures both energy efficiency and tenant comfort. Energy benchmarking promotes energy-efficient buildings so that occupants can benefit from improved comfort.

What to Do with Energy Benchmarking Results

No matter your building is old or new, energy benchmarking provides objective grounds upon which you can boost its energy performance. The results can then be used to:

  • Gauge insights on how your building performs competitively
  • Reveal performance bottlenecks in your building
  • Recognize changes that can be adopted to drive environmental sustainability
  • Visualize water and wastewater management opportunities
  • Get more customers to come your way

ActiveBAS has developed is a real-time energy optimization tool for commercial and industrial buildings. It utilizes Energy Star Portfolio Manager API to help you complete energy benchmarking timely, accurately, and in compliance with energy efficiency guidelines.


  • Energy Star. DataTrends Research. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.energystar.gov/buildings/about_us/datatrends_research
  • ASHRAE. Puts Latest Energy Audit Information at your Fingertips. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.ashrae.org/technical-resources/bookstore/procedures-for-commercial-building-energy-audits
  • The City of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. New York City’s Roadmap to 80 x 50. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/pdf/publications/New%20York%20City’s%20Roadmap%20to%2080%20x%2050_Final.pdf
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2020, April). Air and Radiation (OAR). Latest Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks Shows Long-Term Reductions, with Annual Variation. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/latest-inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks-shows-long-term-reductions-0
  • Energy Star. Benchmarking to Save Energy. Retrieved November 19, 2020, from https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/buildings/tools/Benchmarking_to_Save_Energy.pdf