Price isn’t the only thing to keep in mind when choosing who does your benchmark.
Benchmarking isn’t really anyone’s favorite compliance task. It takes a lot of time, there’s the back and forth with utilities, opening accounts with the City, and dealing with unfamiliar software.
This is why so many property owners and managers choose to get a professional to benchmark their building(s) for them. But how do you know if you’re picking the right one? Here are a few important things to consider:
They Should Keep Your Goals in Mind
Think of the outcome you’d like. Do you want simple compliance? Do you want to see if any of your energy systems can be improved before a sale? Are you interested in how your building compares with others like it? Do you want to justify upgrades? Do you want to see which buildings in your portfolio are the worst energy hogs?
There are any number of goals you could have, and it’s important to make sure your benchmarking provider is on board with helping you meet them.
They Should Have Experience With Your Property Type
Different building types have different needs. A grocery store and an apartment complex not only have distinct energy needs, but they also have unique business models, with specific regulatory bodies and goals. Your benchmarking provider should have experience benchmarking your type of building, but also have an understanding of industry standards and challenges in order to best interpret your benchmark.
It’s easy to talk generally about NOI (Net Operating Income), but when your tenants are paying for the utilities while you are only responsible for common area lighting, that’s a different situation entirely from when you’re trying to lease out an unoccupied office building with old HVAC.
Make sure you speak with the benchmarking provider to see how thoroughly they understand your use type, and how best to leverage the benchmarking data for your planning purposes.
A few good questions to ask:
- Do you have experience with my type of property?
- Can you tell me how you’ve helped this type of property use its benchmark data?
- What would you recommend if I got a low score on my benchmark?
The answers to these questions will give you a sense of whether the provider understands your property’s needs, and how best to help you interpret the kBtu per square foot, ENERGY STAR Score, and cost per square foot as they relate to your goals.
They Should Respect Your Time
A benchmark takes an average of 8-10 hours to complete, spaced out over a few weeks. There is research, creating and logging into online accounts, interfacing with utilities, dealing with the city, and wrangling ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager’s many quirks.
With that in mind, you should be clear on how involved you’d like to be.
They Should Make You Their Priority
It’s important to understand how a provider's services might impact your goals. If you don’t need to worry about audits, maybe a benchmark-only provider makes sense for you - they can get you in compliance and whether that can translate into an audit exemption or an ENERGY STAR Label just doesn’t matter to you.
Or maybe you’re a regional hospital system that needs a team of engineers for LEED Certification and Title 24 consulting, the benchmark is part of the package, and you know they will cater to your every whim because you have the budget and the project size to hold their attention.
Or perhaps you’re like most buildings, without the time or budget to worry about the consequences of forced compliance, but you don’t want someone to push you out the door for a couple hundred bucks. You’d do best with a “sweet spot” provider that performs benchmarks, audits, and offers ENERGY STAR Label Certification. They understand benchmarks have consequences because the other services they provide depend on accurate benchmarking as a baseline for success. Ultimately, specialization serves clients better.
Many folks have been treating benchmarking as a hassle they can thankfully outsource. We urge you to think about benchmarking as a new tool for your decision-making process, and to work with benchmarking professionals that understand how to turn these mandates into money.
Bay Efficiency's goals is to use our 18 years of benchmark and audit experience to help buildings leverage their compliance needs to meet larger objectives. If you'd like to hear more how we can take the hassle of benchmarking off your plate, and use the data for your decision-making, reach out today.