New standard for commercial building energy audits in the works

Creating and implementing an effective energy management strategy begins with understanding the buildings and assets that make up a portfolio of properties. This first critical step is usually called a preliminary energy analysis (PEA), which includes benchmarking the portfolio’s facilities to establish an energy performance baseline that can be a starting point to measure and verify any energy conservation strategies performed in each building. A PEA will indicate the buildings that are the best candidates for an energy audit, which will collect specific site information about each building and physical assets related to the energy consumption of each building.

The data collection methods of energy audits have primarily followed the processes described in ASHRAE’s “Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits” (PCBEA), first published in 2004 and updated in 2011. This publication outlines the various tasks associated with three levels of energy audit procedures: Level 1, commonly referred to as “walk-through surveys”; Level 2, which entails a more thorough engineering analysis; and Level 3, which is an intensive process that is commonly referred to as an “investment-grade audit,” because they are typically robust enough to withstand the scrutiny of financial investment auditors for capital project funding. Template forms for each level of effort and building elements are provided in this book and commonly used throughout the industry for field inspections.

Although the PCBEA has been the go-to guide for over 10 years, ASHRAE has recognized that state and municipal efforts mandating energy audits as part of benchmarking and transparency ordinances will require a guidance document in language designed for adoption into building and energy codes. In response, ASHRAE will issue a draft copy of “ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 211: Commercial Building Energy Audits.” This document will be under advisory public review this fall and ANSI publication public review in the spring. A code-adoption-ready version should be published by summer 2016.

For more information, please contact Nate Boyd at