e-Bench® offers very sophisticated benchmarking features. In fact the e-Bench® system was initially developed as a benchmarking software system and later expanded to provide the larger range of services it now possesses.
In terms of how we make comparisons, we use the following two sources of data:
1. Industry standard average EUI (Energy Use Intensity) and best practice
The data used here is CBECS data where it is available and depending on what country the benchmarking is being undertaken. In the US it is CBECS, which underpins the Energy Star ratings. Best practice data is gleaned from audit work we have been involved in and is therefore verified data. In New Zealand, we have better data sources and information than the NZ Govt Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
This first benchmarking data source allows users to obtain an indicative performance rating without having to enter detailed information about their building, such as its construction. Simple and readily accessible data such as total square meters and annual energy consumption is enough to obtain a rating. Additional input data such as required under the Energy Star Manager Portfolio Manager will of course provide a rating in accordance with that scheme.
2. Benchmarking against benchmarks being generated by the buildings and facilities already present in the e-Bench® database
For example, we have some 1,400 school buildings in the database and the quartile, average, median and best practice are generated from the performance of these school buildings. It is also dynamic, meaning that as additional buildings are added to the database or the performance of existing buildings improve so will that of the indexes. We believe having a dynamic, rather than static reference database is important as technology changes, therefore reflecting the greater scope for improvements in buildings and facilities.
There are five levels of outputs available in the benchmarking:
Level 0 is benchmarking against industry standard average EUI and best practice
Level 1 to 5 is benchmarked against the e-Bench®sample.
Level 1 to 5 have additional layers of normalization for climate, utilization, construction and equipment load.
This staged benchmarking allows a user to determine if the inefficiencies are due to how the facility has been constructed, the way it is being managed or from the type of functional equipment being employed. This is a very powerful feature for a user, as it allows them to both cost effectively monitor the performance of the facility and allocate resources into areas with the greatest scope for improvement.
While there is some initial work in establishing the benchmarking configuration, it is however a one off task. It is assisted by having a computer aided drawing tool that can be used in conjunction with a building library and pre-loaded construction material with their R values available and ready to populate the database.
What e-Bench® does is to model exactly how the building or facility might operate in terms of thermodynamic flows through its building fabric. Consideration is given to factors such as heating/cooling gains or losses, hours of use and how it might be utilised. e-Bench® analyses these in the context of the function that the buildings is being asked to perform and the type of equipment a user may have installed to carry out this designated functionality.
The results from the benchmarking analysis are then compared against the minimum standards as laid down by the various building authorities.
The information may be viewed using our secure web-site or alternatively the data can be used to feed into a dashboard that will display how well the facility is performing and how it compares to the building code standards and to other facilities in the e-Bench® database.