Energy Benchmarking

Benchmarking is the ongoing review of building energy and water performance to ensure a building is using energy and water as anticipated—over time and relative to peers. It allows owners and occupants to understand their building’s relative energy performance, and helps identify opportunities to cut energy waste. 

The City of Saint Paul is continuing its legacy of sustainability and economic vitality by exploring building energy benchmarking policy options.  In this exploration, the City is talking with stakeholders and taking lessons learned from the 24 other cities across the nation, including peer cities of Minneapolis, Saint Louis, and Kansas City, that have adopted building energy benchmarking policies.

Building benchmarking and energy data transparency align with the City’s vision to keep Saint Paul’s property market competitive, enhance economic vitality, create green jobs, and initiate progress toward the City’s climate and energy goals. Across the country, cities are embracing building benchmarking as a best practice to reduce waste, save money, and mitigate climate change.

In Saint Paul, commercial and residential buildings are responsible for 52% of citywide greenhouse gas emissions. This represents a significant opportunity for energy and cost savings, as it is estimated that the average commercial building wastes 30% of its energy consumption due to inefficiencies (Source: Environmental Protection Agency). The first step to reducing energy waste is to develop awareness and understanding of a building’s efficiency, and in cities that currently require benchmarking, buildings have realized annual energy savings of 2-3% from just the process of benchmarking. (Source: Environmental Protection Agency).

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How It Works

Benchmarking is the first step to optimize energy and water efficiency in buildings.  Building benchmarking provides whole-building energy and water efficiency metrics to building owners, managers, and occupants to inform decision-making during purchasing, leasing, and building asset investment decisions.

Energy benchmarking:

  • Combines two silos of information that have never been merged before: utility meter consumption and building characteristics. Together, this information helps building owners and occupants review whole building performance, compare it to similar buildings locally and nationally, and identify opportunities to save energy and money.
  • Is a relatively fast and easy process, taking on average less than 10 hours annually.
  • Requires no out-of-pocket expense as the City’s chosen reporting tool, the web-based ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, is free. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the nationally-preferred tool to measure and track building energy and water use.
  • Is convenient, as Xcel Energy allows customer electric and gas consumption data to automatically upload to Portfolio Manager.