There are several no/low-cost ways to improve Energy Star Scores in commercial office buildings. They include having accurate inputs into the EPA’s Portfolio Manager System, effectively “segmenting” your building square footage when it’s advantageous to do so, and tightening-up the heating-AC (HVAC) systems operating hours.

Having accurate building use attributes in Portfolio Manager is extremely important. Weekly hours of operation (defined as when 75%+ of the building occupants are in the building), number of building occupants (listed as “workers on main shift”) and number of PCs (not laptops, not servers) drastically impact Energy Star scores.

More often than not when I start working with a commercial office building client who already have an EPA Portfolio Manager account setup we always identify opportunities to improve the existing Energy Star score for their property(ies). First off we need to make sure all of the occupied square footage is represented accurately. There are often energy intensive spaces not properly accounted for which puts a downward pressure on the Energy Star score for that building.

Finally, check with your facility person to find out what the HVAC System “occupancy schedule” is? If s/he shrugs their shoulders you have a problem, as well as an opportunity. More typically they will share with you when the heating and cooling systems come on and turns off on a daily bases. How does that compare to your Portfolio Manager input for hours when 75%+ of the building occupants are on site? Nine times out of ten there’s a major discrepancy between when most of the people are in your building and the operation of the HVAC systems designed to keep them comfortable.

Typically, there’s a lot we can do to reduce energy use and associated costs by “doing the best you can with what you’ve got”. Not only does this high-level systems optimization approach save on utilities but will also help increase your building’s Energy Star score.