By Clark A. Reed, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
In early 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program will launch a revision of its widely used energy performance benchmarking tool, Portfolio Manager. Since its release in 1999, the nationally recognized free-to-use tool has been used to benchmark over 18,000 commercial buildings, including over 700 acute care hospitals.
Many ASHE members have given EPA feedback about the rating system — ideas to improve its functioning, new features to add, and old ones to discard. We’ve heard you and in 2004 we are unveiling a faster, easier rating system in Portfolio Manager with a new look and feel. If you’ve already established an account, your data will continue to be accessible at www.energystar.gov/benchmark. If you haven’t benchmarked yet, see the section below on free Internet training sessions. Here’s a brief description of the improvements you’ll see when you log back into your account.
We’ve discarded the old tab system to give you all the energy data you need on one page. The new Facility Summary page has been re-formatted to give you facility performance ratings, space use categories, and energy meter information at a glance.
You can display over 30 different types of data on your facility using the View feature. A View is simply a set of data such as Total Energy Intensity or Annual Energy Cost that are displayed together in a table. Portfolio Manager allows you to customize your account by selecting up to seven data points for display from the following major categories:
To make it easier for you to share energy performance data, Portfolio Manager now allows users to provide access to internal staff, service and product providers, utility companies, or others. This feature allows you to control the level of access that is granted to your account; access can be limited from “read-only” to “full-edit” capability for any particular user.
Additionally, you can now transfer the ability to control access to your facility data to other parties. Providing access to data is on a facility-by-facility basis — third parties must have already established an account within Portfolio Manager to be granted data access. Healthcare systems with multiple facilities in more than one account should use this feature to consolidate all of their facilities under a single account.
So that you can manage your energy performance in a way that fits your organization, Portfolio Manager allows you to organize your facilities into groups (e.g., Hospitals -Northwest Region). Groups are completely customizable by you, and each facility may belong to multiple groups. A few “system” Groups are automatically provided to the user:
To ensure that your acute care hospitals’ energy performance ratings are accurate and truly reflect their performance, Portfolio Manager requires that you enter one year of energy data, meeting certain conditions. The specific data requirements are as follows: At least 11 consecutive, overlap ENERGY STAR label, all electricity and natural gas meters must have energy data entered in monthly increments. Other fuel type meters (e.g., fuel oil, chilled water) can have individual meter entries that span time periods greater than one month.
If any of this energy data is missing, “N/A” (Not Available) will appear instead of a numeric rating. Simply enter the missing energy data, and you will receive an energy performance rating for your facility (assuming there are no other discrepancies in the data).
The “Set Energy Performance Baseline and Targets” link adjacent to the Facility Performance heading allows you to define your own target in terms of a percentage in energy reduction or in terms of an increase in score. The savings figure that is generated is based on the difference between your baseline costs and those associated with your target.
Portfolio Manager now offers the capability for users to create, update, and submit Building Profiles to EPA for posting on the ENERGY STAR website (see www.energystar.gov and click on “Find Labeled Building”). Also new is the ability for different groups, such as Service and Product Providers, to write their own Building Profile for the same facility.
Our logo has been updated for greater simplicity, consistency, and consumer recognition. The update includes adding the words “ENERGY STAR” into the logo so that it is closely associated with the ENERGY STAR name. We have also incorporated the power of a strong, clear color, one of the most important elements of an identity if used consistently and frequently. Blue (100% Cyan) has been chosen as the primary color for the mark because it represents many positive attributes for ENERGY STAR including clarity, air, sky, and the environment. For more information on how to access and use the new ENERGY STAR logo, please click on “Partner Resources” at www.energystar.gov and then “logos”.
ENERGY STAR offers free 90-minute on-line training sessions every month on using the national energy performance rating system found in Portfolio Manager. Learn how to use Portfolio Manager’s new features for your acute care hospital. Please register early because space is limited, and sessions will be closed when the virtual classroom is full. To register, please visit http://es.imeet.com/regeval/calendar.asp.
Along with the new features coming to Portfolio Manager are some important technical upgrades. These upgrades, which include improvements in the weather normalization process, may affect your facility’s energy performance rating. The rating system accounts for differences in weather, putting facilities that face very different weather conditions on a level energy performance playing field. Based on our experience over the past two years and new data, EPA has improved the way the system accounts for weather variations.
ENERGY STAR will expand the rating system in Portfolio Manager to include Medical Office Buildings (MOB) in early 2004. Portfolio Manager, already available for children’s and acute care hospitals, allows MOB owners and operators to compare the energy performance of their facilities to peers across the country. Knowing how buildings score on the 1–100 scale enables owners to set performance goals, prioritize investment strategies across a portfolio, and receive federal recognition for superior energy performance.