While predictive modeling for energy and water is an important part of the real estate development process, it’s equally important to substantiate building performance once the building is operational. In this post, I will introduce sustainability benchmarking with Arc and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

The greenest building is one that already exists. Variations on this theme have been repeated for several years. But how do we make sure those existing buildings are operating efficiently?

Now that LEED has been around for more than twenty years and has become the dominant rating system for green building, the industry is accustomed to achieving certification based on predictive data.

The conundrum is that many buildings don’t operate as predicted. There can be several reasons that the predictive models don’t match reality. Some of the most typical reasons that a building’s performance might deliver an unpleasant surprise are: unanticipated usage, shifting uses over time, lack of training on how to efficiently operate the building, skipping enhanced commissioning, or not fixing issues identified during commissioning.

The pressure for performance benchmarking is on

The pressure to accelerate climate goals and demonstrate outcomes instead of promises is leading governing bodies to shift from predictive green building compliance to performance-based green building compliance.

With offices in Seattle and Washington DC, we are seeing the trend coast-to-coast:

Performance Based Green Building Compliance Amanda Cunningham

This increased focus on performance ensures objectives are being met and have a measurable impact that can be used to compare buildings to each other and to target continuous improvement.

Substantiating Performance

There are two popular tools that help measure existing building performance. Both are free to register your building and start tracking your performance: ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and Arc.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager focuses on energy. What some people don’t realize is that ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager can also provide a water score, which is a feature released in October 2017.

Arc uses the performance of previously LEED certified buildings to determine a total building operations score based on five categories: energy, water, waste, transportation, and human experience.

The Arc program from USGBC encourages building owners to monitor monthly performance, making problems in performance easy to see early, and encouraging continuous improvement year-over-year. Arc started out as the LEED dynamic plaque, and the program has developed into what is now called Arc and is the path to existing building certification in LEED v4.1.

Both ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and Arc can be used to increase transparency and support compliance with benchmarking requirements. With both tools, building performance can be shared with building occupants to illustrate how daily actions impact building performance. Performance in many cities is also shared with municipalities and the data is even open to the public.

In addition to our experience working with clients to establish profiles in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and Arc, Paladino supports existing building certification, benchmarking, and best practices in these tools.

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