Benchmarking Buildings by Energy Use Intensity (EUI)

There are many metrics and measurements when it comes to evaluating energy as we use it in our daily lives.  In order to compare between different sources or end uses we often have to make conversions in our terms so that our comparisons are equitable.  This may be further complicated as different countries often use different standards of measure, however, we will convert to common units.


Benchmarking is the practice of comparing the measured performance of a device, process, facility, or organization to itself, its peers, or established norms, with the goal of informing and motivating performance improvement. When applied to building energy use, benchmarking serves as a mechanism to measure energy performance of a single building over time, relative to other similar buildings, or to modeled simulations of a reference building built to a specific standard (such as an energy code). (1)

Benchmarking is a common practice in buildings to establish existing consumption rates and to identify areas that require improvement and to help prioritize improvement projects.  These benchmarks can be established for a building, system within a building, or even a larger campus, facility or power source.  Usually an energy or facility manager will determine energy consumption over a fixed period of time, 1 to 3 years, and compare it to similar facilities.  Normalized by gross square footage of the building the EUI is usually expressed as kBtu/sf per year.

Energy Intensity (EI) of a Country

Figure 1:  Energy Intensity of different economies The graph shows the amount of energy it takes to produce a US $ of GNP for selected countries. (2)

Not to be confused with Energy Use Intensity, Energy Intensity is an economic measure of energy use normalized by the GDP of a country and is considered a measure of a Nation’s Energy Efficiency.  Countries with a high EI have a higher cost to convert energy into GDP, whereas countries with low EI have lower costs of converting energy into GDP.  Many factors contribute to the EI value, including climate, energy sources and  economic productivity. (2)

Energy Use Intensity (EUI)

The EUI of a building includes the electrical power use and heating fuel consumption for heating and hot water generation.  Many facilities require different loads according to their primary use or function, including cooling and refrigeration.  For the comfort of occupants electricity is needed for lighting and plug loads to meet the functioning needs of the equipment in the facility.  Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) may require electricity or another fuel such as natural gas.  Hot water may be generated with electricity or a fuel.  A site may also have solar PV or hot water, wind power, and daylighting programs.  There are also many strategies which may be employed by building operators to reduce loads and energy consumption including controls, storage, micro-grid, purchasing offsets, etc.

When comparing buildings, people not only talk about total energy demands, but also talk about “energy use intensity” (EUI).  Energy intensiveness is simply energy demand per unit area of the building’s floorplan, usually in square meters or square feet. This allows you to compare the energy demand of buildings that are different sizes, so you can see which performs better.

EUI is a particularly useful metric for setting energy use benchmarks and goals. The EUI usually varies quite a bit based on the building program, the climate, and the building size. (3)

Image result

Figure 2.  Typical EUI for selected buildings.  This graph is based on research EPA conducted on more than 100,000 buildings (4)

Site Energy vs Source Energy

As we go forward into the future, it is rather unclear how current events will affect the international agreements on reducing carbon consumption.  However, generally speaking, renewable energy sources are seen to becoming more economic for power production.  For many facilities this means that supplementing existing grid sources for power with on-site power production is making economic sense.  Future building improvements may include sub-systems, batteries and energy storage schemes, renewable sources or automated or advanced control systems to reduce reliance on grid sourced power.

The energy intensity values in the tables above only consider the amount of electricity and fuel that are used on-site (“secondary” or “site” energy). They do not consider the fuel consumed to generate that heat or electricity. Many building codes and some tabulations of EUI attempt to capture the total impact of delivering energy to a building by defining the term  “primary” or “source” energy which includes the fuel used to generate power on-site or at a power plant far away.

When measuring energy used to provide thermal or visual comfort, site energy is the most useful measurement. But when measuring total energy usage to determine environmental impacts, the source energy is the more accurate measurement.

Sometimes low on-site energy use actually causes more energy use upstream.  For example, 2 kWh of natural gas burned on-site for heat might seem worse than 1 kWh of electricity used on-site to provide the same heating with a heat pump.  However, 1 kWh of site electricity from the average US electrical grid is equal to 3.3 kWh of source energy, because of inefficiencies in power plants that burn fuel for electricity, and because of small losses in transmission lines.  So in fact the 2 kWh of natural gas burned on site is better for heating. The table below provides the conversion factors assumed by the US Environmental Protection Agency for converting between site and source energy. (3)






Energy Efficiency Financing for Existing Buildings in California

Much of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions involves fairly complicated and advanced technologies. Whether it’s solar panels, batteries, flywheels, or fuel cells, these technologies have typically required public support to bring them to scale at a reasonable price, along with significant regulatory or legal reforms to accommodate these new ways of doing old things, […]

To recommend policies to boost this capital market financing for energy retrofits, UC Berkeley and UCLA Law are today releasing a new report “Powering the Savings:How California Can Tap the Energy Efficiency Potential in Existing Commercial Buildings.” The report is the 17th in the two law schools’ Climate Change and Business Research Initiative, generously supported by Bank of America since 2009.

The report describes ways that California could unlock more private investment in energy efficiency retrofits, particularly in commercial buildings.  This financing will flow if there’s a predictable, long-term, measured and verified amount of savings that can be directly traced to energy efficiency measures.  New software and methodologies can now more accurately perform this task.  They establish a building’s energy performance baseline, calibrating for a variety of factors, such as weather, building use, and occupancy changes.  That calibrated or “dynamic” baseline can then form the basis for calculating the energy savings that occur due specifically to efficiency improvements.

But the state currently lacks a uniform, state-sanctioned methodology and technology standard, so utilities are reluctant to base efficiency incentives or programs without regulatory approval to use these new methods.  The report therefore recommends that energy regulators encourage utilities to develop aggressive projects based on these emerging metering technologies that can ultimately inform a standard measurement process and catalyze “pay-for-performance” energy efficiency financing, with utilities able to procure energy efficiency savings just like they were a traditional generation resource. […]

via Solving The Energy Efficiency Puzzle — Legal Planet

It takes money to make money: getting money to flow into energy efficiency projects

Energy in Demand - Sustainable Energy - Rod Janssen

Jim Barrett, Chief Economist, for ACEEE, The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, writes an excellent blog on the ACEEE website about an initiative by the Bank of America to increase investments at the community level.

Bank of America’s Energy Efficiency Financing Program shows path to combining energy savings and community development

If you spend any time with the energy efficiency crowd, you will often hear us call it the lowest cost energy resource out there. What you will never hear us say is that energy efficiency is free. Efficiency can do many great things: It saves money, cuts pollution, increases productivity, and creates jobs. What it can’t do is defy one of the fundamental laws that governs all investments—it takes money to make money.

We want to get money flowing into well-designed energy efficiency projects, especially those that can do the most good where it is the most needed…

View original post 1,011 more words

Energy Efficiency Sector Ranks #1 in Job Growth by DOE



Figure 1:  Projected Job Growth by Sectors – Green Economy Report, 2011 (1)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Energy today released the agency’s first annual analysis of how changes in America’s energy profile are affecting national employment in multiple energy sectors. By using a combination of existing energy employment data and a new survey of energy sector employers, the inaugural U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) provides a broad view of the national current energy employment landscape.

USEER examines four sectors of the economy — electric power generation and fuels; transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles — which cumulatively account for almost all of the United States’ energy production and distribution system and roughly 70 percent of U.S. energy consumption. By looking at such a wide portion of the energy economy, USEER can provide the public and policy makers with a clearer picture of how changes in energy technology, systems, and usage are affecting the economy and creating or displacing jobs.

Some key findings of the report include:

3.64 million Americans work in traditional energy industries, including production, transmission, distribution, and storage.
Of these, 600,000 employees contribute to the production of low-carbon electricity, including renewable energy, nuclear energy and low emission natural gas.
An additional 1.9 million Americans are employed, in whole or in part, in energy efficiency.
Roughly 30 percent of the 6.8 million employees in the U.S. construction industry work on energy or building energy efficiency projects.

A copy of the full report is available HERE.

The report also found several energy industries with projected increases in new jobs. Responding to the USEER survey of employers, the energy efficiency sector predicted hiring rates of 14 percent in 2016, or almost 260,000 new hires. Projected hiring rates were at 5 percent within the electric power generation and fuels sector, reflecting overall growth despite a loss of employment in 2015 in the oil and natural gas extraction sectors. Transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage firms anticipate 4 percent employment growth in 2016. Solar energy firms predicted 15 percent job growth over the next year.

Yet even as the report found the opportunity for job growth in many energy sectors, over 70 percent of all employers surveyed found it “difficult or very difficult” to hire new employees with needed skills.

“The transformation of our energy system and the growth of energy efficiency technologies are creating opportunities for thousands of new jobs, especially in energy efficiency and solar,” said David Foster, Senior Advisor on Energy and Industrial Policy at the Department of Energy.  “This report gives an important snapshot of energy employment in America, and subsequent reports will provide better information to guide policies and priorities that create new jobs, appropriately train workers, and promote a successful national energy policy.” …” (1)

“…As a rule of thumb, investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency generate about 3 times the amount of jobs that other energy related investments create (gas, oil, coal, nuclear). Average numbers of jobs created per million euro invested (3CSEP):

  • Building retrofits: 17
  • Renewable energy: 15
  • Coal: 7
  • Oil and gas: 5

[…] (2)


Figure 2:  Job Generators Comparison Chart (3)

“[…] While much of the debate on climate change and employment has focused on renewables, another and more significant source of jobs from decarbonization has received much less attention. Substantial efficiency gains are technically feasible and economically viable in industry, housing, transportation, and services. Businesses can make a profit and households can enjoy real savings. And spending the surplus on things other than fossil energy will boost an economy’s employment.

For example, the United States is a diversified economy that imports substantial amounts of equipment for renewables. A recent study carefully considered economy-wide effects of reducing emissions by 40 percent by 2030 through a mix of clean energy and energy efficiency (Pollin and others, 2014). It concluded that $200 billion a year in investment would generate a net gain of about 2.7 million jobs: 4.2 million in environmental goods and service sectors and their supply chains but 1.5 million lost in the shrinking fossil- and energy-intensive sectors. The net gain of 2.7 million jobs would reduce the unemployment rate in the 2030 U.S. labor market by about 1.5 percentage points—for example, from 6.5 percent to 5 percent. The authors consider this a conservative estimate; for example, it does not take into account the 1.2 to 1.8 million jobs likely gained from reinvested savings.

Other studies show similar results. A review of 30 studies covering 15 countries and the European Union as a whole found appreciable actual or potential net gains in employment (Poschen, 2015). Most studies considering emission targets in line with the ambitions announced for a Paris agreement in December find net gains on the order of 0.5 to 2.0 percent of total employment, or 15 million to 60 million additional jobs. In emerging market economies such as Brazil, China, Mauritius, and South Africa, green investment was found to accelerate economic growth and employment generation when compared with business as usual. Several studies suggest that more ambitious climate targets would generate greater gains in employment (for a discussion of particular countries, see Poschen, 2015). […]” (3)






Is Utility-Scale Solar Power the Economic Choice to Residential Solar Power?

Originally published on Solar Love. A new study has concluded that utility-scale solar PV systems across the US are “significantly” more cost effective than rooftop solar PV systems. Sp…

Sourced through from:

“[…] the study, conducted by economists at global consulting firm The Brattle Group, found that utility-scale solar PV systems were more cost effective at achieving the economic and policy benefits of PV solar than rooftop or residential-scale solar was.

The study, Comparative Generation Costs of Utility-Scale and Residential-Scale PV in Xcel Energy Colorado’s Service Area, published Monday, is the first of its kind to study a “solar on solar” comparison.

“Over the last decade, solar energy costs for both rooftop and bulk-power applications have come down dramatically,” said Dr. Peter Fox-Penner, Brattle principal and co-author of the study. “But utility-scale solar will remain substantially less expensive per kWh generated than rooftop PV. In addition, utility-scale PV allows everyone access to solar power. From the standpoint of cost, equity, and environmental benefits, large-scale solar is a crucial resource.”

The study yielded two key findings:

  1. The generation cost of energy from 300 MW of utility-scale PV solar is roughly 50% the cost per kWh of the output from an equivalent 300 MW of 5kW residential-scale systems when deployed on the Xcel Energy Colorado system, and utility-scale solar remains more cost effective in all scenarios considered in the study.
  2. In that same setting, 300 MW of PV solar deployed in a utility-scale configuration also avoids approximately 50% more carbon emissions than an equivalent amount of residential-scale PV solar. […]

The report itself was commissioned by American thin-film photovoltaic manufacturer and utility scale developer First Solar with support from Edison Electric Institute, while Xcel Energy Colorado provided data and technical support. Specifically, the report examined the comparative customer-paid costs of generating power from equal amounts of utility-scale and residential/rooftop-scale solar PV panels in the Xcel Energy Colorado system.

A reference case and five separate scenarios with varying degrees of investment tax credit, PV cost, inflation, and financing parameters were used to yield the report’s results.

The specifics of the study’s findings, which imagined a 2019 Xcel Energy Colorado system, are as follows:

  • utility-scale PV power costs ranged from $66/MWh to $117/MWh (6.6¢/kWh to 11.7¢/kWh) across the five scenarios
  • residential-scale PV power costs were well up, ranging from $123/MWh to $193/MWh (12.3¢/kWh to 19.3¢/kWh) for a typical residential-scale system owned by the customer
  • the costs for leased residential-scale systems were even larger and between $140/MWh and $237/MWh (14.0¢/kWh to 23.7¢/kWh)
  • the generation cost difference between the utility- and residential-scale systems owned by the customer ranged from 6.7¢/kWh to 9.2¢/kWh solar across the scenarios

The authors of the report put these figures into perspective, including the national average for retail all-in residential electric rates in 2014, which were 12.5¢/kWh.  […]”

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

Demand Response Energy Distribution a Technological Revolution

Demand response (DR) energy distribution appears to be gaining momentum in the United States and elsewhere. In the U.S., however, the DR sector is awaiting a Supreme Court decision that will have great impact on the evolution of the technology, administrative and business models.

Sourced through from:

“[…] A lot is going on besides the Supreme Court case, however. Technology evolutions in two discreet areas are converging to make DR a hot topic. The tools necessary to determine where energy is being stored, where it is needed and when to deliver it is have developed over decades in the telecommunications sector. Secondly, the more recent rush of advanced battery research is making it possible to store energy and provide the flexibility necessary for demand response to really work. Mix that with the growing ability to generate energy on premises through solar, wind and other methods and a potent new distributed structure is created.

In October, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) released a report entitled “Peak Demand Reduction Strategy,” which was prepared for it by Navigant Research. The research found that the upside is high. For instance, for every $1 spent on reducing peak demand, savings of $2.62 and $3.26 or more can be expected in Illinois and Massachusetts, respectively. The most progress has been made in the United States, the report found. Last year, the U.S. accounted for $1.25 billion of the total worldwide $2 billion demand response market, according to JR Tolbert, the AEE’s Senior Director of State Policy. The U.S. market, he wrote in response to questions emailed by Energy Manager Today, grew 14 percent last year compared to 2013.

The report painted a bright picture for the future of demand response. “The key takeaway from this report is that by passing peak demand reduction mandates into law, or creating peak demand reduction programs, policy makers and utilities could significantly reduce costs for ratepayers, strengthen reliability of the electricity system, and facilitate compliance with the Clean Power Plan,” Tolbert wrote. “As states plan for their energy future, demand response should be a go-to option for legislators and regulators.” […]”

See on Scoop.itGreen & Sustainable News

Smart Building Investment to Reach $17.4B by 2019

According to a new IDC Energy Insights report, “Business Strategy: Global Smart Building Technology Spending 2015–2019 Forecast,”* smart building technology spending will grow from $6.3 billion in 2014 to $17.4 billion in 2019, registering a compound annual growth rate of 22.6 percent. The most aggressive adoption will be in Asia/Pacific, North America, and Western Europe.   …Continue Reading



After several years of slower-than-expected growth, the smart building technology market is expected to grow rapidly as there is increasingly broad market awareness of the business value. Smart buildings enable facility optimization through the convergence of information technology and building automation.

In developing this forecast, several trends were identified. One trend is that vertical industries have a large impact on the rate of adoption of smart building technologies. Buildings managed in the government or healthcare verticals, for example, tend to be more mature in their appreciation of the benefits of smart buildings and more advanced in their deployment. Secondly, investments over the past several years have focused on HVAC systems. Customers are now beginning to expand their evaluation to lighting, plug load, equipment maintenance and other issues.

From a geographic perspective, North America will continue to implement smart building technology driven largely by corporate objectives of controlling and reducing energy costs. Many European nations will continue to expand their investments in smart building technology, driven by continued EU and local governmental regulations. And within Asia/Pacific, China’s rapid building boom continues apace, resulting in new construction with many smart building capabilities designed in from the beginning.”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Building Operations – Systems & Controls, Maintenance & Commissioning

France now requires all new buildings to have green roofs or solar panels


France just passed atrailblazing new lawthat requires that all new buildings constructed in commercial areas to be partially-covered by either solar panels orgreen roofs. Not only will this bring dramatic changes to the nation?s skylines and bolster the efficiency of all new commercial construction, but the law will help France pick up the pace the solar adoption?which has lagged behind other European nations in recent years.

Read more:France requires all new buildings to have green roofs or solar panels | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building


“Here’s hoping that other nations can soon follow suit.” I had to go back and dig through my sources to make sure I hadn’t dreamed this!

View original post

State and Solar Advocates Complete Legal Agreement for Full Net Metering Credit to Utilities

The Act 236 agreement also settles rules for legal solar leasing.


>”[…]  The South Carolina Public Service Commission last week approved a settlement agreement between Duke Energy Carolinas, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and major environmental groups that allows rooftop solar owners to get full retail value for electricity their systems send to the grid.The agreement on net energy metering (NEM) is part of Act 236, passed in 2014 after a consultation process involving renewable energy-interested stakeholders. Solar systems installed before the end of 2020 will earn full retail value bill credit for each kilowatt-hour that goes to the grid.Act 236 also legalizes third party ownership of solar, more widely known as solar leasing, and sets up rules by which leasing companies like SolarCity and Sunrun must operate.

Dive Insight:  To study the emerging solar opportunity, a South Carolina General Assembly-created oversight group organized a coalition of environmentalists, solar advocates, and utilities and electric cooperatives into an Energy Advisory Council in 2013. Act 236 was formulated out of its report.

The NEM settlement also raises the size limit of eligible systems from 100 kW to 1 MW and raises the cap on NEM systems from 0.2% of each utility’s peak capacity to 2%.

Act 236 requires leasing companies to be certified by the state and limits the size of leased residential systems to 20kW and leased commercial systems to 1000kW. Leased systems can only serve one customer and one location and cannot sell electricity to third parties. The total of leased solar is capped at no more than 2% of a utility’s residential, commercial, or industrial customers average retail peak demand.

Groups that led the settlement with the utilities include the Coastal Conservation League, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. […]”<


See on Scoop.itGreen Building Operations – Systems & Controls, Maintenance & Commissioning

New California Housing Community Goes Zero Net Energy

California has set a goal for all new residential construction in the state to be ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction to be zero net energy by 2030. Spring Lake uses no natural gas and receives most of its power from photovoltaics.


>”The $13 million Spring Lake project in Woodland has 62 affordable apartments and townhomes for agricultural workers and their families.  […]

“The community will generate at least as much energy as it consumes,” says Vanessa Guerra, a project manager with Mutual Housing California, a Sacramento-based non-profit that develops sustainable affordable housing communities.

The California Energy Commission adopted zero net energy goals in its 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR). It further defined what ZNE buildings are and laid out the necessary steps and renewables options for achieving the ZNE 2020 goals in the 2013 IEPR.

The project was financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Citibank, Wells Fargo Bank, the California Department of Housing and Community Development and the City of Woodland.”<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development