Energy Usage Intensity (EUI) benchmarks

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AASHE Member
Joined: Dec 23 2008

I am trying to track down average EUI values for a variety of college-type buildings, preferably for the southeast but would take a national average number if it's all that is out there.  Right now, all I find is one average number for "college campus", which seems to aggregate all building types you'd find on a college campus for the entire country.  But, obviously, certain types of buildings will use more energy, on average, than other types.

Is anybody tracking EUI's on a building-type-by-building-type basis?  Per climate zone?

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StaffAASHE Member
Joined: Dec 16 2008

Hi Bryna,
Thank you for the question. I reached out to a colleague at USGBC who put me in touch with Vicky Kiechel who works in the higher education sector on behalf of ENERGY STAR. She provided the below resources and mentioned being happy to help on general energy and energy benchmarking matters in the future (I've hyperlinked her email above).

"The CBECS (Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey) information aggregates data showing an average SOURCE EUI for Higher Ed of around 280 (EUI is a ratio, kBTUs per sf per year). The “national average number” with its aggregation of all building types is what we have got. There’s no zip-code related data which is publicly available (the EIA thus protects confidentiality). The building type by building type basis is in the CBECS table, but this is pretty general too. You can find energy data by region but it is by sector, such as residential or commercial. Higher education buildings fall under the commercial sector – most institutions do – but obviously this includes a whole lot of other buildings.

So for granularity of detail, you really do hit a data wall. Skip to my last paragraph for how to get around it.

Another issue for higher education is that in ENERGY STAR only a small number of higher education building types are “ratable” for comparison against a nationwide database. To make meaningful comparisons possible, the EIA has not yet gathered data on higher ed building types beyond dormitories because (1) types like classroom buildings on campuses represent a small fraction of all building types/uses in the US, and the EIA wants to focus on data gathering for more predominant types; (2) universities still don’t submeter their buildings. The submetering issue is a great problem for higher education.

I can give you one example of something the State of Ohio is doing. All of Ohio’s public higher education buildings are benchmarking their energy use in ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager so that they can get their very own EUIs – essentially a state-wide data base against which they can compare each others energy uses. For Higher Education, an effective comparison might be to use the Carnegie codes of institutions so that you compare community colleges to community colleges, for example (because primarily commuter schools will have patterns of energy use very different from 4-year universities). "

Cheers,
Niles
 

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Thank you so much for your response.  I can especially appreciate the frustration about the lack of submetering of college/university buildings.  We are trying to address this in our newer projects, but it certainly still adds a degree of difficulty in benchmarking against non-existent historical data.  Is collecting college/university specific data something that AASHE might be interested in doing?  I will also contact USGBC to see if their BPP program might also collect this data.  Of course, their database, as I understand it, would be limited to LEED buildings and it would be helpful to compare LEED vs non-LEED buildings.  What Ohio is doing is interesting, and would be great if it was replicable on a state-by-state basis.  The logistics of that seem complex, though...

In any case, I do hope someone at the national level takes on this cause because it is difficult to benchmark college and university buildings against a national average with any degree of credibility because we all know certain types of college/university buildings naturally are more energy intensive than others.

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Bryna-  This needs to start somewhere. Why doesn't AASHE just ask all their members to provide their data is some format? EUI for a campus and Carnegie code would be a very good start. Maybe we can get something started -- Our info at Elon University is 99,605 BTU/square foot. Our info considering degree days is 19.00 BTU/sqft/degree days.

It would be nice to have it by building category, but the metering is a huge issue for older buildings.  We started putting electrical readers/meters on most of our buildings to collect that info and watch the performance of buildings. 

I hope this catches on and we build a data base.  Robert Buchholz

 

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

If data is collected about EUI, which I think would be great since we should get away from % cuts and work more towards targets/benchmarks, it is important to distinguish between source and site EUI. The 280 and the 99.6 numbers shown above are not apples-to-apples.

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Cecil has a very good point.  Also, above Niles Barnes mentioned that Ohio was collecting information on higher ed EUI.  North Carolina is collecting similar information for state schools. Robert

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Niles, is creating a database of both site and source EUI for various types of college and university buildings something that AASHE would be willing to take on?  Similar to the national campus-level CBECS data that EIA publishes in aggregated form?  I can see how this might be too detailed of a project for the EIA to take on, and perhaps not exactly what the USGBC might be looking to accomplish with their BPP database (and again, the concern about the data sources being limited only to LEED buildings with the BPP database), but it sure seems a good fit for AASHE.  I do wonder whether the EIA actually has the data but just doesn't break it out the way some of us would like to see it or if it would require a completely new data collection effort.  In any case,  I think that the creation of such a data source could be very beneficial to the college/university community (especially if it broke out the data by climate zone), and it seems from the chain above that others would also find it beneficial.

rvanderveen@dlrgroup.com's picture
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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Hi All;

Working on a student housing project at the University of Washington and doing some benchmarking. Trying to find Energy Use Intensity comparisons around the country, especially on the west coast. Any information of direction on this?

 

Ron van der Veen
 

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Reinventing the wheel on this task will prove very daunting and will indubitably present you with many challenges, mainly how will your benchmarks be comparing apples to apples. For example an EUI of a building like a supermarket will be 4 times as high as a typical commercial building. Similarly an EUI of a university hosting large lab and medical research facilities will be tenfold of a liberal arts college, mainly because you don't have to keep art supplies and philosophy books frozen in a Petri dish 24/7, or run high velocity fume hoods around the clock, at a liberal arts college. Heating Degree Days data will present other challenges as well.

I began a study in 2007 at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation benchmarking EUI's of 25 colleges and universities in Vermont. During the timeframe of the internship I was able to collect and compare data for 11 of them, mainly because that was all that was available at the time. At that time university facility managers didn't really have a grasp of building by building fuel or electricity usage so the data was compared for total university sq.footage and fuel and electric usage converted to Btu. I remember at the time that Cool-Air Cool-Planet had a very detailed data collection system for energy consumption of their member institutions. If you are able to access and share Clean-Air Cool-Planet's data, or other college and university energy usage databases, you may not have to reinvent the wheel in terms of data collection.
 

I would highly recommend partnering with your local energy efficiency companies, utilities, and/or agencies, such as Efficiency Vermont, Efficiency Maine, Efficiency New Jersey, Pacific Gas & Electric, etc. They will have local and regional EUI data on hand, or will be happy to partner with your institution to perform a detailed energy audit which you can then map out and share with the AASHE community. In most cases the agencies and utilities have mandates to achieve certain energy efficiency savings and would likely be eager to partner with your institution, since most American colleges use more energy than small island nations and have plenty of "low-hanging" fruit to achieve savings.

If you are looking for "ballpark" figures (i.e. commercial building 20,000-40,000 Btu/ft2) you can find those in a typical HVAC handbook. Otherwise a good starting point will be the EnergyStar Benchmarking assistance for Higher Education:

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=higher_ed.bus_highereducation

p.s. involving students and faculty in this process could have a considerable multiplier effect , in terms of accomplishing multiple sustainability goals that could earn you some STARs pts.