A Guide to Building Energy Quotient

09/01/2013 | By Jennie Morton

Use ASHRAE’s bEQ tool to delve into energy performance


To improve your building performance, you need to dig deeper than your utility bills and shine a light on areas of energy waste. But finding inefficiencies can be a challenge and requires time and resources you may not have on hand.

Enter the Building Energy Quotient (bEQ), an energy rating label that gives facility managers a detailed overview of their efficiency standing. Offered by ASHRAE, Building EQ is more than a performance score – the process also includes a Level 1 audit or energy modeling, plus a list of improvement recommendations.

Only by verifying where inefficiencies exist can you hone in and prioritize meaningful energy saving projects. Use bEQ to benchmark your energy use, disclose your rating to the public, and receive professional guidance on how to improve your operations.

Tool Features
Building EQ offers two rating labels that qualify energy performance: In Operation and As Designed.

“The In Operation rating focuses on your property’s actual energy use for the preceding 12 to 18 months and is based on concrete operating data supplied from utility bills,” explains Amy Musser, chair of the bEQ committee and partner at Vandemusser Design, which offers green building consulting.

It also requires an ASHRAE Level 1 Energy Audit, which includes a detailed list of efficiency recommendations and estimates of costs and paybacks for each measure. The audit must be conducted by an ASHRAE Building Energy Assessment Professional (BEAP).

“This helps owners and operators to see how their energy usage compares to the energy usage of a median baseline property and highlights their building’s potential for energy performance improvement,” Musser adds.

Using the As Designed rating, owners can evaluate a building’s performance potential by stripping away occupant and operational factors. Any property, including those in operation for 12 months or less, can apply for this label. Using a standardized model that is compared to the median energy usage intensity (measured as BTUs per square foot) of similar building types, an ASHRAE Building Energy Modeling Professional (BEMP) will simulate your as-built energy usage.

Because the process neutralizes operating conditions, it is useful for owners who want to determine if they’re maximizing the capability of their existing systems. This also allows FMs to compare performance potential among buildings in a portfolio irrespective of occupant factors, notes Musser.

Buildings that pursue both ratings can then draw comparisons between as-built and operational energy use. Scores can vary significantly between the two, revealing performance gaps that can be tightened with focused improvements.

Either rating supplies users with an assessment workbook that provides the complete building analysis. Owners can review a breakdown of their energy usage and costs, data from IEQ measurements, and suggestions for efficiency upgrades.

“These features precisely detail where and how energy is consumed and recommend solutions to increase building value and lower operating costs,” Musser says. “This guidance enables owners to make informed decisions about investments in equipment upgrades, recommissioning, and maintenance.”

Once your energy use model or audit has been performed, your facility is rated against similar building types. This is broken down into the bEQ dashboard, which outlines the various measurements taken in the audit. The building’s projected or measured EUI is multiplied by 100 to derive the bEQ score.

A low number translates to a high grade, with A+ reserved for net-zero energy buildings, B for efficient, C for average, and so on (see image at right). This is presented as the bEQ certificate, which can also be turned into a plaque for display.

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