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Energy Accounting & Portfolio Manager

A variety of organizations may be interested in tracking the energy use of their facilities. Especially for state agencies, colleges, and universities, this may be due to requirements of state governments. However, it can also help all organizations to better understand how their buildings and other facilities use energy and identify how to reduce energy use by cutting waste and increasing energy efficiency, often improving occupant comfort and indoor air quality in the process. With limited financial resources, it is important for agencies and companies to focus their efforts where they are most likely to generate cost-effective reductions in energy use intensity. This process can help identify which facilities are most likely to make good targets for efficiency improvement programs.

A good way to track energy use, as well as efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, is with ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager, a free program from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Based on the data entered, PM users receive a score. This score compares your building to like buildings nationwide, and more efficient buildings may quality for ENERGY STAR certification.

For all the benefits of tracking energy, many organizations struggle with accomplishing it or do not do it at all – due to a variety of potential challenges:

  • Lack of staff with availability and required expertise with data management, energy systems analysis, and Portfolio Manager, which can be exacerbated with recent budget cuts - due to impacts from the Covid 19 pandemic
  • Many public buildings lack dedicated utility meters, and some are served by unmetered district steam systems

As a reflection of the challenges state agencies and higher education have in tracking their energy use as required in 2017 the Washington State Office of Financial Management’s (OFM) facility Inventory database showed:

  • State agencies owned 26.1 million square-feet (SF) and leased 8.7 million SF – only 55% of those required to have energy benchmarks in Portfolio Manager actually had these
  • Colleges owned 20.7 million SF of facilities and leased roughly 1 million SF of facilities, and only 30% of those required to have energy benchmarks in Portfolio Manager actually had these
  • Universities owned 51.2 million SF of facilities and only 17% of the facilities requiring current Portfolio Manager accounts actually had these

The WSU Energy Program can assist with compiling energy use data and entering it into the Portfolio Manager database, as well as analyzing the data to highlight trends and anomalies (e.g. unusual and significant spikes or dips) that may indicate equipment failures or issues with operation or maintenance – any of which could be wasting energy. These may also be degrading occupant comfort and/or indoor air quality, which can impact worker productivity – as well as sick leave – due to respiratory issues that can even lead to law suits. The WSU Energy Program services can be as comprehensive or limited as desired.

For additional information, contact project manager Tanya Beavers at (360) 956-2133 or BeaversT@Energy.WSU.edu.