Improving ENERGY STAR Ratings through Benchmarking: Effective Actions and Retrofits

BSL Improving Energy Star Rating through Benchmarking: Effective Actions and Retrofits

NYC Local Law 84 mandates annual benchmarking of energy and water usage for a vast number of residential and commercial buildings. Compliance is mandatory for buildings above 25,000 square feet and voluntary for smaller ones with the goal of promoting transparency and energy savings. Here, we discuss effective measures to increase ENERGY STAR ratings.

Energy Star Rating

Before we dive into the specifics, it’s important to understand what the ENERGY STAR rating is. The ENERGY STAR rating is a measure of a building’s energy efficiency compared to similar buildings across the country. The rating is based on a scale of 1-100, with a higher score indicating better energy performance. Buildings with a score of 75 or higher are eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. Certification can be a valuable marketing tool, indicating a building’s commitment to energy efficiency. Here’s what each letter grade indicates:

  • A: Score of 85 or higher – Top energy performers in the market
  • B: Score of 70-84 – High energy performers
  • C: Score of 55-69 – Average energy performers
  • D: Score below 55 – Poor energy performers
  • F: For buildings that didn’t submit required benchmarking information
  • N: For buildings exempted from benchmarking or not covered by the ENERGY STAR program

Effective Actions and Retrofits

Let’s look at the most effective actions and retrofits for raising a building’s ENERGY STAR rating:

  1. Improve building insulation: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy usage in commercial buildings. By improving insulation in the building envelope, building owners can reduce the amount of heat that escapes in the winter and the amount of cool air that escapes in the summer.
  2. Upgrade lighting systems: Lighting accounts for about 17% of the energy usage in commercial buildings. Upgrading to energy-efficient LED lighting reduces energy usage. This upgrade benefits buildings of all sizes but is particularly effective in larger commercial buildings.
  3. Install a BMS system: Building Management Systems (BMS) can also be helpful in improving a building’s ENERGY STAR rating. BMS can help building owners and operators monitor and control a building’s energy usage, identify inefficiencies, and adjust systems to optimize energy performance. For example, a BMS can be used to monitor and adjust HVAC systems, lighting, and water usage to improve energy efficiency. By implementing a BMS, building owners can better manage their energy usage, identify areas for improvement, and potentially raise their ENERGY STAR rating. BMS are particularly effective in larger commercial buildings, but can also be useful in residential buildings.
  4. Install occupancy sensors: Occupancy sensors can help reduce energy usage by automatically turning off lights or adjusting HVAC settings when a room or area of the building is not in use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, occupancy sensors can reduce lighting energy usage by up to 30%.
  5. Install high-efficiency HVAC systems: HVAC systems account for about 32% of the energy usage in commercial buildings. As a result, upgrading to high-efficiency HVAC systems can help reduce energy usage and improve ENERGY STAR ratings.
  6. Implement water-saving measures: Water usage can also impact a building’s ENERGY STAR rating. Implementing water-saving measures, such as installing low-flow faucets and toilets, can help reduce water usage and improve ENERGY STAR ratings. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, buildings that implement water-saving measures can save up to 30% on water bills.

Although benchmarking your building’s energy usage is required by law, it can lead to significant energy savings. As a result, buildings will obtain a higher ENERGY STAR rating. By implementing the effective changes, building owners can improve their building’s energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. It’s important to note that these retrofits and upgrades may require an investment, but the long-term benefits are worth it.