40 percent of developed countries’ energy is consumed by buildings, a number ASHRAE wants to improve. Until recently, building owners and facilities managers have only been able to determine how much their building was designed to use, not how much it actually consumes. ASHRAE’s response: develop a program that assesses energy use in commercial and industrial buildings to help “close gaps between intention and operation.”
The Buildings Energy Quotient (EQ) program, now in its pilot phrase, encourages the building industry to move toward net-zero-energy use by providing owners and managers with detailed information on energy profile demands, actual usage, and carbon footprint. Each building receives a letter grade and is rated on two scales. The As Designed rating is based on results of energy modeling and simulation. The In Operation scale evaluates one year of actual energy use data and combines it with the building’s structure and operation.
The biggest benefit of this comprehensive feedback is for operations and maintenance personnel, who “can use the results to inform their decisions on maintenance activities and influence building owners and managers to pursue equipment upgrades and demonstrate the return on investment for energy efficiency projects.”
Owners and managers can also compare their building with others to anticipate areas of improvement. Ratings can then be used to gain a marketing edge to potential buyers or tenants, who are provided with knowledge about the value and long-term potentials of the building. Down the road, the industry will gain the ability to research the collected data, allowing for more informed decisions to be made about the design and operation of buildings.