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Benchmarking Your Building's
Energy Performance

Comparing annual energy use intensities (EUIs) can quickly show you how the energy performance of your building compares to others. Usually expressed in kBtu/sf, the EUI indicates the rate at which energy is used at your building. The example that follows illustrates building energy performance benchmarking applied to K-12 schools. Similar distributions that will allow you to benchmark the energy performance of 16 different building types are available at this website. Many of these are regionally-based, which help to account for weather, building construction, and building systems differences that exist across the U.S.

The benchmarking distribution below (a descending cumulative histogram) was created by arranging the EUIs for 449 K-12 public schools across the U.S. in ascending order. For a specific EUI located on the x-axis, the y-axis value indicates the percent of the 449 schools that are less efficient (use more energy). From the figure, Tennessee's Daniel Boone High ranks at approximately 25%. This indicates 75% of U.S. schools are more efficient, suggesting this school may have sizeable opportunities for efficiency gains and energy cost reductions. Nebraska's Maxey Elementary, however, a recently constructed school with a geothermal-based heating and cooling system, is a model of energy efficiency outperforming over 90% of schools in the U.S. Locating where your school's EUI lies on the curve will show you how well it performs against other U.S. K-12 schools.

You can create a similar distribution for benchmarking any building type with energy use data on a group or sample of buildings in your area (see Tools for Better Benchmarking, Create Your Own Distribution). If you don't have data for buildings in your area, you can find at this website distributions in your region that you can use to benchmark your building's energy performance. Unlike the national distribution for schools above, you should compare to more local distributions when possible. Comparing your building to others in your area helps account for differences in weather, building construction, building systems, and other factors that differ regionally and significantly impact building energy use. If you discover most similar buildings in your area have lower EUIs than yours (your building gets a low performance rating), it is often an indicator of sizeable energy efficiency opportunities. After benchmarking your building, this website can give you an indicator of the potential savings in your building.