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Originally published in Interiors & Sources

06/28/2013

A Guide to Portfolio Manager

Use this free ENERGY STAR tool to benchmark your building's performance

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Get Started with the Click of a Button
Virtually any building can use Portfolio Manager. To create your property profile, you must first choose a property function from a predetermined list. In many cases, these facility types match the same categories CBECS uses, which ensures quality comparisons to peer organizations. Office, K-12 school, hotel, data center, courthouse, retail, supermarket, financial institution, and warehouse are among the more than 80 property types available. Hospital (general medical and surgical) is separate from the medical office category, as is senior care facility. Universities may also enter data specifically for residence halls.

You will then account for specific operational characteristics that may significantly impact your energy consumption. For example, medical facilities will need to document the number of MRI machines and staffed beds. Schools can enter the number of freezers and refrigerators or whether they have a pool. Hotels can acknowledge spa and fitness areas, as well as laundry rooms. A data center will need detailed information on its IT energy.

The last requirement is to provide 12 consecutive months of utility bill data for each meter. The tool recognizes all fuel types and can handle any necessary conversions – simply enter the information as it appears on your utility bill. There are several options available to ease this initial data entry.

“If you have a portfolio with 100 buildings and each one has 20 energy meters, the idea of entering 12 months of data can be a hurdle. To simplify the process, you can do a bulk upload that allows you to automatically input utility data from an existing spreadsheet like Excel,” explains Pitcher. “There is also a data exchange option where a third-party organization, such as your utility, will automatically transfer your utility data into the tool.”

Delve into Performance
Once your information has been entered, Portfolio Manager will generate a variety of reports and calculations that shed light on your efficiency level. Use these five features to uncover areas of energy and water waste.

Statement of Energy Performance – This overview allows you to document your weather-normalized energy use intensity and your performance compared to national averages. You can also produce a report to view changes in energy performance per building or across a portfolio.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculation – Determine how much carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide your building produces. Direct and indirect emissions are derived from on-site fuel combustion and purchased electricity, as well as district heating and cooling. You can also recognize avoided emissions from any renewable energy certificates (RECs).

All calculations are consistent with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, an international accounting tool that is commonly used for reporting requirements. Your organization can use the data to fulfill requirements mandated by your local jurisdiction or earn credits under green building programs such as LEED.

Despite the correlation between energy use and GHG emissions, this calculation is an independent metric and does not impact your energy performance rating. Understanding the extent of your GHG emissions, however, is an important step to lowering your carbon footprint.

Financial Tool – Track annual utility costs from energy and water consumption. You can obtain figures showing cumulative investments in facility upgrades or leverage the information to evaluate improvement opportunities.

ENERGY STAR Score – As long as your property falls into one of the 18 building categories offered by Portfolio Manager, you automatically qualify for a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score.

“The score compares a property’s energy performance to similar buildings across the U.S., normalizing for weather conditions, building characteristics, and operations,” Pitcher notes. “A score of 50 represents a median performance whereas a 75 means your building outperforms 75% of similar facilities. It is the only performance-based comparative metric on the market today.”

Beyond property type, applicants for the score must also be at least 5,000 square feet and in operation over 30 hours a week (not applicable to hotels or hospitals). Notable exceptions include banks, which can be as small as 1,000 square feet, and hospitals should be at least 20,000 square feet.

Users will also need to specify additional facility data beyond gross floor area, such as weekly operating hours, number of workers on the main shift, number of personal computers, and percent of floor area that is air conditioned and heated.

The only properties that are ineligible for a 1-100 score are those that fall outside of the current building categories as there wouldn’t be a viable model available for comparative purposes. Nonetheless, these users can still use the tool to establish a performance baseline, track costs and usage, and review national averages. Particularly since these facility types represent the largest growth in new users, the EPA has partnered with several industry associations to remedy insufficient data.

“For example, we recently partnered with the American Senior Housing Association to address data deficiencies for senior care communities, which were eager to use the tool,” Pitcher recounts. “They sent out a survey to their members and enough information was gathered so we could create comparative metrics and start to certify top performers in this peer group.”


ENERGY STAR Certification – Buildings that receive a score of 75 or higher and have their performance verified by an engineer or architect are eligible for official certification. This designation is valid for 12 months; you can simply reapply for an updated certification at the end of the year as long as your utility bill information is up to date for that period.

“We encourage annual recertification because we know that top performance isn’t an inherent quality of a building – it is wholly dependent on how it’s operated, which fluctuates over time,” stresses Pitcher. “Your certification is really a reflection of your facility’s performance in a given year.”


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