Benchmarking is a key part of actively managing your building's energy use. It lets you create a standard for comparing, measuring progress, and spotting potential problems.
The most reliable metric for comparing energy performance between multiple buildings is total energy use per square foot. This is the total annual energy use divided by the conditioned square feet (area) for a building. Another metric is total energy cost per square foot. However, this metric may not always be an accurate means of comparison, especially if the buildings compared use different sources of energy or receive energy charged at different prices.
There are many helpful benchmarking tools. Some tools, including those offered by several utilities, let you compare your building's current energy performance with its performance from a previous time period. The tools offered by utilities are available for free either on the Internet or by contacting your local utility representative. Several tools also let you compare the energy performance of one building to that of other buildings in your campus or portfolio.
In addition, EPA's Energy Star Portfolio Manager lets you compare the energy performance of your building with the average performance of buildings in a national database, and provides an Energy Star rating for your building. Eligible buildings with a rating of 75 or higher may even apply for an Energy Star label.