B3 Benchmarking

Scarce federal, state and local resources make it is essential that every dollar spent on building construction and retrofit meets a high standard of fiscal responsibility. What is needed is a comprehensive approach to federal, state and local building construction and retrofits that optimizes return on investment. Building codes that improve the standard of construction set the floor for construction performance in new and existing buildings. Beyond-code programs like the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Rating System™ and other voluntary programs help to drive efficiency improvements above code in new construction.

The B3 Benchmarking System, (B3) developed specifically for public sector portfolios of buildings, offers a comprehensive solution to benchmarking, baselining tracking, managing and improving facilities at a reasonable price point to meet the constraints of state budgets.

Benchmarking supports the goals of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, the State Energy Efficiency (SEE) Action working groups, the President’s Better Building Initiative, the Architecture 2030 Challenge, and the policy and regulatory frameworks in most states. For states and local governments that have committed to energy efficiency goals or climate goals via state legislation, executive orders, or municipal ordinances, B3 System establishes building-specific, portfolio-wide baselines for tracking commitments to those policy goals. The B3 System helps to advance policies, programs, and market strategies that accelerate job creation and reduce energy bills while achieving energy and climate security for our nation and seeks to transform markets fundamentally and permanently.

B3, developed by The Weidt Group, is the first public-building specific simulation-based benchmarking tool. It currently hosts the building characteristics and energy consumption specifics of nearly 7,000+ public buildings. In 2010 alone, $23.2 million in savings opportunities were identified from those buildings. Benchmarking state and local government facilities with B3 allows its subscribers to maximize the effectiveness of limited state energy efficiency investment tools by:

  • Easily and consistently, defining properties and identify the energy usage of state buildings for agencies, county and local governments and institutions
  • Allowing quick sorts and analyses to parse, sum and rank order energy savings opportunities
  • Clearly establishing an orderly “road map” for planning investments and managing improvements in all government and institutional buildings across multiple regulatory and funding cycles
  • Flexibly categorizing benchmarked buildings by geography, building type, utility service territory or government jurisdiction to optimize program design, funding, budgets, operations and management
  • Continuously tracking the success of efficiency investments made in individual buildings and reporting back on progress over time
  • Effectively use Event Pinning and Building Versioning to normalization and track performance before and after energy upgrades

In sum, benchmarking creates a pipeline for DSM-eligible projects or any other funding vehicle the state creates, as well as private sector financing and make participating state and local governments more discerning consumers of ESCO services.

+ In DepthMinnesota and Iowa

The State of Minnesota Administrative Department hired The Weidt Group to implement this public building benchmarking program. Their goal was to capture enough information about Minnesota’s population public buildings and identify those buildings that would yield the highest return on investment for energy-related building improvements. There are currently 6400 facilities in B3 in Minnesota and 1200 in Iowa. In 2010, the B3 program, as part of the state of Minnesota Portfolio of Sustainable Buildings, was recognized in ACEEE’s State’s Stepping Forward Report. To date, the program has a 94%+ participation rate and has identified over $24 million in potential energy savings [1]. The program is now identifying high ROI projects and serving as a feeder tool for other state and utility programs.

Currently the State of Minnesota is using B3 to qualify projects for the Public Buildings Enhanced Energy Efficiency Program (PBEEEP) for State and Local Governments. After the improvement projects are completed, B3 is used to conduct measurement and verification studies using the B3 weather normalized Baseline comparison to determine actual savings.

The collected data will be used to inform investments in building energy performance, and to track savings as buildings are improved. The Minnesota Building Benchmarking web site can be seen at mn.b3benchmarking.com, and the Iowa Building Benchmarking website is ia.b3benchmarking.com.

[1] This calculation is based on data gathered for all complete sites that have an actual-to-benchmark ratio between 0.9 and 3.0. Upon that sample, The Weidt Group performed the following calculation to determine potential MMBTU: PotentialSavingsMMBTU = (((kBtuPerSF - (0.9 * BenchmarkTotalkBtuPerSFPerYear)) * SquareFeet) / 1000). PotentialSavingsDollars is calculated by taking the PotentialSavingsMMBTU * 13

+ In DepthGetting Your System Online

Built from the ground up B3 develops accurate, comprehensive benchmarks for public building portfolios. In addition to a unique simulation based engineering model made for each facility to determine their expected energy consumption the B3 program supports automatic download of data to ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager to allow users to receive an Energy Star rating and to present their ENERGY STAR score inside the B3 application for applicable building types. The B3 system allows editing of required ENERGY STAR data to achieve scores that are not just based on defaults.

The Weidt Group developed the processes and tools required to:

  • Identify and verify the entire state’s public building population
  • Calculate customized weather-normalized energy consumption benchmarks for each building
  • Establish communication with “data owners” for each building
  • Gather building information and energy consumption data into a single data store
  • Create software tools that custom calculate energy benchmarks and baselines for each building
  • Compare actual metered energy use against benchmark, baseline, and targeted energy performance for each building

A custom web site is the public face of the B3 program. Data Owners for each building enter and verify basic building information, and enter energy consumption data by meter. The site then creates a predictive model of the building and compares the expected energy performance against actual consumption in real time. As the site user enters data about the building, the model gains accuracy in its predictions, allowing the Data Owner to identify immediately possible data entry errors. The website also allows Data Owners to see the comparative performance of the entire list of buildings stack-ranked by comparison with the model. Reduction targets can be set and viewed against weather-normalized data to track energy reduction efforts.

B3 is quick and easy to set up and use on a statewide or agency-wide basis. Clients get customized website identity and control to accelerate easy data entry. As soon as the first data is entered, automated profile ranking helps clients to take action and the whole process is customized to your unique needs from the start.

Unique Customizable Web-based User Interface
  • A Rich Internet Application allows for client-specific branding
  • Content Management System with WISE, a Web-Interface Self Editor
B3 Control Center - Program Administrator
  • Intuitive management oversight
  • Multi-level user access
  • Consistent user-entry format
  • Customizable reporting features
B3 Application
  • Support for over 95 building space types including complicated public facilities
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Intuitive correction signals
  • Immediate results
  • ENERGY STAR Integration with ABS
  • Sophisticated reporting
Three methodologies in one tool
  • ENERGY STAR Integration
  • Baseline Comparison
    Comparing a building to itself
  • Benchmark Comparison
    Comparing a building to an objective energy standard
  • Peer Comparison
    Comparing a building to other like buildings within a geographic region

Optional Services
A campaign to populate and maintain the statewide benchmarking system is as important as the creation of the tool itself. The key to success is providing adequate resources for hands-on management, training and support and an easy and useable interface. To populate the B3 System, The Weidt Group offers a successful buy-in campaign package addressing all levels from the executive to the data entry level within each organization.

Training, in the form of Control Center Training/User Training, is offered as a series of meetings with the appropriate stakeholders of public building organizations. Training includes both live meetings and webinars, where groups of organizations attend. In each training meeting, we teach: facility “data owners” how to enter building data into the system; energy bill payers how to enter utility bill information; all users how to interpret reports and presentations and take action to improve efficiency.

Professional energy engineering consulting services when requested to begin the improvements necessary. The Weidt Group has over 35 years of energy efficiency consulting experience. We are one of the nation’s oldest and most productive energy efficiency consulting practices. If needed, we can assist you with the next steps once your energy efficiency entered into B3.