The U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® provides a platform for benchmarking the energy performance of all kinds of commercial buildings. Energy managers on college campuses, however, often face a challenge in both accurately metering energy at the building level and categorizing buildings under the Portfolio Manager framework of use types. Now the new Higher Education Benchmarking Initiative seeks to collect campus-wide data from colleges and universities across North America—and offer energy scorecards in return.
Energy data collection is notoriously difficult on college campuses. Buildings aren’t simply classrooms or gymnasiums or restaurants or office spaces. They can have all these things, with each building use type consuming very different levels of energy.
That factor has made it tough for colleges to determine how to understand how their building energy use stacks up against comparable data on other campuses, or even other industries. Making these comparisons even more complicated is the fact that many institutions don’t use individual building meters—they might get one electric bill for the whole campus.
Until now, the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® has been a tracking tool for commercial buildings (including higher education) to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions at the building level. Recognizing the program’s challenges in accommodating college campus data, however, Portfolio Manager® has now launched the Higher Education Benchmarking Initiative (HEBI).
The HEBI is a free initiative to help colleges and universities understand how the energy and water performance of their campus of buildings stack up against that of peer institutions. Program managers hope the initiative and the scorecards for each campus spark dialogue and action on energy and water efficiency opportunities. Multiple rounds of scorecards help shape a survey that could lead to an ENERGY STAR score ranging from 1–100 for higher education campuses. Data will be kept anonymous, and it will lend further insights into industry trends, including the impacts of COVID-19.
All two- and four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada are invited to participate using calendar-year 2019 data. Deadline for participation is Tuesday, September 15, 2020, for your institution to be eligible to receive scorecards, available late 2020.
HEBI program managers have developed a guidance document for participating, which includes FAQs, instructions for how to benchmark your campus, and a checklist for completing your submission. This includes (1) sending campus energy and water use data (optional) through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and (2) completing the online questionnaire for supplemental information that will be used to establish peer groups.
The HEBI program managers will be hosting a special “Ask the Expert” session on Thursday, August 19, at noon Eastern (9 a.m. Pacific); you can register here. You are also welcome to contact GreenerU for a free consultation on how the program works and what data you’ll need to collect.
GreenerU encourages colleges and universities to participate in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® Higher Education Benchmarking Initiative to help advance your understanding of energy use on your campus. If you’d like help or any troubleshooting while entering your campus data, we are here for you! Contact us today.