Increasing utility costs and tightening budgets have led many colleges and universities across the country to rethink the way they manage their energy consumption. Take Western Michigan University for example: their facilities team has installed 718 sub-meters across 151 campus buildings, allowing the team to closely measure, track and analyze their energy and water consumption on a building-by-building basis. They even went a step further and created an online dashboard which displays this data to the public for added transparency– pretty impressive to say the least.
For a number of reasons, not all higher education institutions have the capacity to install sub-meters on campus buildings. The majority of institutions use one or two central meters to track total campus energy and water consumption. However, it doesn’t matter whether your energy management strategy involves tracking performance data at the building level or at the campus level. There are a number of free online tools available to help you along the way. Check out the tools below to get started:
EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free, web-based utility tracking tool that allows eligible facilities to record, track and benchmark their energy and/or water performance against that of similar facilities across the country. For campuses that have a large number of buildings with sub-meters in place, using the individual facility option is a great way to closely track building performance over time. Learn how it works here.
For campuses that don’t have sub-metering in place, the EPA recently introduced the campus feature that allows users to create an online campus. EPA defines a campus as a “collection of facilities that are located within the same geographical area and have energy and/or water meters that are shared across multiple facilities.” By adding this functionality into Portfolio Manager, the EPA has opened the door for all campuses to benchmark their energy performance.
USGBC’s Building Performance Partnership
USGBC’s Building Performance Partnership (BPP) is being developed to provide a platform for LEED certified commercial and residential buildings to track and improve their energy and water performance over time. Facilities that sign up for BPP share data with USGBC through the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool and in return receive an annual Performance Report summarizing the building’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
The BPP Participant Handbook is a good resource for those looking to become involved in the program, and provides detailed instructions on how to read utility bills, setting up a Portfolio Manager account and inputting utility data, and how to share that data with the BPP team.