Benchmarking - Frequently Asked Questions

What is energy benchmarking?

Energy benchmarking is the process of tracking and recording a building's energy use and comparing it with that of other buildings similar in size and function. Benchmarking enables you to measure your building's performance against that of other buildings in your sector, against a national average or against a set standard of best practices. You can also compare your building's current performance against its previous performance or against other buildings in your portfolio.

What are the benefits of benchmarking?

Benchmarking identifies opportunities you can seize to improve your building's energy performance. By comparing the energy efficiency of your building to that of other facilities, benchmarking helps you prioritize capital upgrades and uncover ways to achieve operational savings. Benchmarking can also help you make your case for recommissioning projects to investors and senior managers. No building owner or manager wants to have a poor energy-performance record.

What is ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a free, on-line tool that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed and administers to help commercial, and institutional building owners and managers track the energy use of their entire portfolio of buildings.

How does the ENERGY STAR 1-100 rating system work?

Through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, your energy performance will be rated on a score of 1 to 100. A rating of 75, for example, indicates that your building performs better than 75 percent of similar buildings from an energy consumption standpoint. Scores take into consideration factors such as weather, geographic location, building attributes and operating characteristics.

For more information on how Canadian scores are calculated, see our Technical resources page and Technical reference documents

How much does benchmarking cost?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software is available to building owners free of charge through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. You will need to invest some time in setting up a benchmarking account. The amount of time will depend on several factors, including the number of building occupants and the availability of building data.

Can a building located outside of the U.S. earn ENERGY STAR certification?

Canada does not offer the ENERGY STAR recognition program. However, buildings located outside of the U.S. that are owned or occupied by the U.S Government and that have met U.S construction codes are eligible to earn the ENERGY STAR certification. Canada does not offer the ENERGY STAR recognition program.

When the Canadian-adapted Portfolio Manager tool was launched in the summer of 2013, what happened to my facility data that was in the tool?

All Canadian building data that was in the tool at the time of the launch remains available in the upgraded tool. In the summer of 2013, all building data registered in the tool with a Canadian address was separated from U.S. data and stored on a secure U.S. Environmental Protection Agency server.

For more information on the data migration process, visit our Benchmarking updates page.

Is the Canadian Web portal on the Canadian or U.S. site?

A Canadian client can log-in directly to the Portfolio Manager tool using Natural Resources Canada's Portfolio Manager Access Page or via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website.

For more information, visit our page on Data safety and security protocol.

There is no performance score for my building type.

Any building can be benchmarked using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, regardless of whether a performance score exists for the building type or not. For non-rated building types, energy use recorded and tracked over time can be used to measure success in meeting energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals. All buildings (rated and non-rated) can receive an energy use intensity expressed in GJ/m2, normalized for weather. Rated building types for Portfolio Manager in Canada will be made available on a progressive basis. Visit ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for specific building types to find out if your building type is eligible for a score.

Median source and site energy use intensities for more than 80 building types, including ones not getting a score, are also available.

What will be the next building type for which a 1-100 ENERGY STAR performance score will be developed?

Energy performance scores are available for six building types, with more to be added over time. Visit ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for specific building types to find out if your building type is eligible for a score.

I am an energy service provider and clients are asking me about exchanging data with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager using web services? What is this and is it available Canada?

Exchanging data with Portfolio Manager using web services is designed to simplify the exchange of energy use data and facility information. With the addition of automated data exchange, utilities and energy service providers will be able to automatically load and update their customers' energy data, and, if applicable, provide customers with a standardized building energy performance score of 1-100. This saves customers the time of manually inputting energy and building data into Portfolio Manager. Currently, a newly released test environment for exchanging data with of Portfolio Manager is available for testing. For more information visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's: Use web services to exchange data with Portfolio Manager.

Where is Canadian building data stored?

Both Canadian and U.S. data are stored on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) server. Canadian and U.S. data are separated and the EPA does not have access to Canadian data without prior authorization from Natural Resources Canada.

For more information, visit our page on Date safety and security protocol.

How was my building data handled when the system was upgraded?

All of your existing data was automatically transferred to the updated system (energy and water data, as well as all property use details, including hours of operation, number of workers, etc.). Canadian data was separated from U.S. data and stored on a separate server located in the U.S. This transition occured automatically.

For more information, visit our Benchmarking updates What you need to know page.

Are there reporting capabilities that will measure and report against the 2007 base year history with respect to Bill 17 (the Ontario Clean Energy Act) given the fact that 2007 is over 48 months in the past?

As long as the energy consumption data is in the tool, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager will allow you to set the baseline year of your choice and obtain reports based on that year.

Will the energy intensity measurement use the metric system versus the imperial system currently utilized?

The user has a choice to select imperial units which measures intensity as kBtu/ft2 or in metric units which will be GJ/m2.

How can I participate in Natural Resources Canada's Energy benchmarking Canadian Circle of Champions?

To be a Natural Resources Canada Energy Benchmarking Champion is simply to be an organization that routinely benchmarks its energy use and, more importantly, uses this data to inform investment decisions and/or take action within the organization's buildings. Natural Resources Canada looks to work with building sector champions to encourage the widespread adoption of energy benchmarking. Participation is simple. Submit information to us via info.services@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca about how you benchmark, what software you use, and how you use the data. We will take your success story, write up a case study, and promote you on our website as a Natural Resources Canada Energy Benchmarking Champion.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions or comments?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently launched a comprehensive upgrade for its popular Portfolio Manager tool. Originally released in 2000, Portfolio Manager has experienced tremendous growth in users and capabilities. The tool measures, tracks, assesses, and reports on the energy and water performance of more than 300,000 commercial buildings in the U.S. Features of the new and improved ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager include:

  • Improved collaboration with advanced reporting and increased security
  • Custom tabs that let you plan and set goals to track both current and future projects
  • Performance upgrades, enhanced ease-of-use and powerful new features
  • Easier data entry with enhanced graphics, wizards and prompts

For more information, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's The new ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager page.

Are multi-unit residential buildings and high-rise apartments going to be included anytime soon?

Multi-unit residential buildings are able to use the tool the way it is right now. However, there will not be a 1-100 score for those types of buildings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking at options to be able to address the challenges of establishing a score for that building type. It is a very challenging type of building because of the different ways in which energy is built in a high-rise. In some high-rises, the tenants pay for the entire energy consumption of their unit, while in others, there are common units with individual meters for electricity.

Why are you using source energy instead of site energy?

The Canadian adaption of Portfolio Manager includes a conversion from site energy to source energy. This provides a more equitable assessment of building-level energy efficiency.

The use of national source-site ratios ensures that no specific building will be credited (or penalized) for the relative efficiency or availability of specific utility providers. This change ensures that there is no bias regarding location (province), climate or energy used for space heating. The use of source energy enables Portfolio Manager to evaluate the performance of your building and not your utility provider.

For more information, see site vs. source energy.

How can I get some training on Portfolio Manager?

Visit our Training resources page or contact us directly.

What is included in my hospital campus?

A hospital campus includes all related buildings that are connected by corridors or walkways, or which are in close proximity to one another. When defining the “Hospital (General Medical and Surgical)” in the Space Use section of Portfolio Manager, the space attributes must be the aggregate of all the buildings on the campus. This means calculating the floor area of all buildings on the campus, including supporting functions such as: stairways, connecting corridors between buildings, medical offices, exam rooms, laboratories, atria, cafeterias, storage areas, elevator shafts, and any space affiliated with emergency medical care or diagnostic care. Additionally, if medical office space is located on the campus, it should be included in the gross square area of the campus.

How do I account for a permanent MRI trailer at my hospital?

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) trailer is considered a permanent fixture of the hospital if it is on site and consuming energy at least ten months of any twelve month period of time. The area of the trailer should be added to the gross area of the hospital. MRI trailers not located on site at the hospital for ten or more months should not be entered into Portfolio Manager.

What property types can be entered as a campus?

Only these properties are eligible to be entered as a campus consisting of multiple buildings:

  • K-12 schools
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels
  • Senior Care
Is there a minimum property size to be eligible to receive a 1-100 ENERGY STAR performance score?

Yes. To be eligible to earn the ENERGY STAR performance score, all properties must be at least 5,000 sq. ft. (465 m2), and hospitals must be at least 20,000 sq. ft. (1860 m2).

Please also see Eligibility criteria for the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score for other requirements.

What types of campuses can receive an ENERGY STAR score?

Campuses are multi-building properties. The only multi-building properties eligible to receive a Canadian ENERGY STAR 1-100 score at the campus level are those designated as a hospital or K-12 school.

These property types can also earn an ENERGY STAR score as single-building properties.

I'm getting an error about numeric values for dates when uploading.

You may get this error when uploading a spreadsheet upload file:

Spreadsheet upload error messages

In order for the template to recognize dates, the format of your input in Excel needs to match the date format of your operating system (OS). If the date formats do not match, Excel will not recognize your inputs as dates, and Portfolio Manager will not be able to accept your template.

You can verify/modify the format of your Windows operating system by:

  • Opening the “Control Panel.”
  • Selecting “Region and Language.”
  • Choosing your preferred format in the “Short date” field:

Region and Language settings panel