Because energy is one of the largest cost components of any real estate operation, energy studies deliver a high ROI on consulting expenditures. Energy studies range from brief walk-through surveys to very detailed investigation, calculation, and computer modeling. We practice all three levels of energy audits prescribed by ASHRAE.
- Level 1 (basic, walk-through) includes reviewing energy bills and briefly surveying the building for obvious opportunities for conservation;
- Level 2 (analytical) includes more intensive physical investigations, observations about practices and procedures, benchmarking, and most importantly, profiling how energy is used (lighting, HVAC, appliances);
- Level 3 (investment grade) involves measurement of consumption in discrete areas, detailed forecasting of the impact of capital improvements and operational changes, and development of an energy model that can inform future considered changes. Sometimes the energy audit is conducted in fulfilling a requirement of LEED certification, and often it is performed just to determine what energy conservation measures are reasonable investments.
Tracking energy use and benchmarking are often key steps toward affecting behavioral changes in organizations and accomplishing the least-costly improvements. The adage—“measure to manage”—holds true, so submetering and measuring actual consumption for discrete areas may be advised. Enrollment in Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which is usually part of a Level 2 audit, is an important step toward benchmarking and will demonstrate the impact of changes that are implemented.