Best or most improved - Energy Attitudes!

'Does it makes sense to buy a building with good benchmark performance ?'

I asked my colleague this and he didn't know the answer (he probably realised it was a trick question ) - Have you ever REALLY thought about it ?

Obviously better buildings are simply better - all other things being equal.  Other things are never equal!

Benchmark studies compare buildings against their peers. So energy cost of a square foot of office space seems a useful comparison in a particular region. And it is, but different buildings are managed better or worse by different owners. The benchmark tells you nothing about how to improve !

Single performance benchmark can seriously muddy the water.


This is what most energy management software does. If you applied this to sports performance, it would be like saying - "I am a loser - I wish I was [insert favorite sports hero]".  Well - wake up and smell the coffee - you aren't (or if you are please sign your autograph below).

A more important question is personal best. A high-jumper that breaks a personal best is to be congratulated. Period. If you agree that self-improvement is a bigger game than beating the unbeatable well done - It means you can score less points and still be a winner!

We manage buildings as though we were in a competition to win or lose. We are not - we are in a game to win by being better - better than we have ever been before. Currently -we aren't very good at it...

The 30% annual energy waste in buildings ( $500 billion) refers not to the quality of buildings, but to the operation of buildings. We can test this by arguing all buildings could be perfectly designed and carbon neutral.  Under this argument we would be wasting all the energy ($1.5 trillion annually).

So to manage energy we should distinguish a better building from a better managed building, we would reasonably buy the best building we could, with the worst current management - As this would give us room for most improvement at the best price.

This has profound implications for energy management software. You may want to know your score against your peers, but it ONLY matters when it comes to buying and selling buildings. When it comes to operational management these metrics are irrelevant.  Nobody would hire a coach that said simply you need to ski more like [Bode Miller or other world class perfomer].

What we need is criticism - constructive criticism that says "You can do better if", "these are your weak spots", "work on improving such and such - there is cope for improvement", "you have done better at,[whatever] in the past so pick it up !".

A peer benchmark tells you none of these, so it is not valuable to the energy manager, rather it is valuable to the realtor or estate agent. Useful for selling buildings that are hard to improve!

kWIQly does support benchmarking in portfolios, but the benchmarks are KPI's relative to self-improvement. How good is your time-keeping? , Do you switch off at the weekend? Is the base load creeping up?

The other thing kWIQly does is show how to apply resource in  group of buildings. Where is the savings potential? and What needs to be done? How long has the problems lasted ? - And so on.

Most people do not understand how this can be done by using consumption data only. It doesn't matter. I don't know how a sewing machine works (bad example), but I guess I could learn to use one. If my target is sewing that would be the tool of choice.

If you are managing energy - what should be your tool of choice ? - Answer that and you will be able to answer - 'Does it makes sense to buy a building with good benchmark performance ?'

The answer - is of course "YES" - but it makes more sense to operate the ones that you have bought as well as you can !


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