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Why You Should Benchmark Your New & Existing Buildings Using ENERGY STAR

by Eddy Santosa, AIA, CBCP, LEED AP BD+C, BEMP, Director of Sustainability

Many building owners and facility managers apply for ENERGY STAR certification annually. The effort is not only to obtain the certification, but also to provide building owners and facility managers with a valuable tool for tracking operation cost and benchmarking of their building’s performance against similar building types.

Based on the EPA finding, major advantages of getting your building ENERGY STAR certified include:

  1. Saving on Energy Consumption – Benchmarking energy performance with ENERGY STAR is a proven successful method for saving on energy consumption.
  2. Saving Money – Organizations benchmarking consistently in Portfolio Manager have achieved average energy savings of 2.4% per year. For a 500,000 square foot office building this equates to cumulative energy cost savings of $120,000 and over $1 million increased asset value over 3 years.
  3. Knowing How Your Building Stacks Up to the Competition – ENERGY STAR benchmarking provides unique comparison information for Developers and building owners. Using Portfolio Manager as a comparison tool to see how your building compares to other similar buildings allows you to address any inefficiencies in the building’s energy consumption and operation, contributing to sustainability initiatives and potentially resulting in significant cost savings on energy bills.

If you are interested in ENERGY STAR certification, we recommend that building owners and facility managers start by following these steps:

  1. Create an account in ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager
  2. Input your building profiles and energy usage data
  3. Add water and waste data for the building (optional)
  4. Review benchmarking score. You will see the score of your building compared to other similar buildings
  5. Determine eligibility. If your building scores 75 or higher that means your building performs better than at least 75% of similar buildings nationwide. Buildings with a score of 75 or higher are eligible to apply for ENERGY STAR certification.
  6. Get third-party verification and complete the application – DBR can provide these services
  7. Renew certification on an annual basis (optional)
Hughes Landing Development (Two Hughes Landing & Three Hughes Landing are ENERGY STAR certified buildings)

There is no direct cost to apply the portfolio manager nor for certification. However, a third party may charge fees to verify your buildings and assist you in the verification process. DBR can provide both or either of these services as required. If your buildings cannot score 75 or higher, you can still use the portfolio manager to benchmark and monitor your building energy usage.

While cities in Texas do not have a building tune-ups ordinance like in Seattle, we recommended that you benchmark your buildings and consider performing retro-commissioning or re-commissioning  if your building energy usage is found to  be high compared to similar buildings.  Just like your cars, buildings will need periodic maintenance and service to perform well.


Additionally, while ENERGY STAR is used most commonly for existing buildings, new buildings can earn ENERGY STAR certification as well, which can be used as a tool to help you market your new building projects. There are few steps in earning ENERGY STAR that can be seen at this link. While there is prescriptive path, the process for new buildings typically will require an energy model. The energy model will not only be useful for certification purposes, but also as a design tool to optimize the building’s life cycle cost. DBR is also an ENERGY STAR Partner and included in the ASHRAE Modeler Directory for ENERGY STAR Energy Modeling for Multifamily New Construction.

Read about our Sustainability services 

Brian C. Uhlrich
Chief Executive Officer