Understanding the Difference Between ASHRAE Level 1, 2, & 3 Energy Audits
Auditing your building’s energy usage is the first step to building a solid plan for improving energy efficiency.
Without an energy audit, you may be spending money on projects you think are improving your building’s energy efficiency but that, in reality, aren’t really moving the needle that much.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) outlines three different levels of energy audits. The audit levels differ based on how intensive they are and what type of outcome you can expect.
Take some time to learn about each audit level before deciding whether you need an ASHRAE Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 energy audit for your building.
ASHRAE Level 1 Audit – “Walk-through Analysis”
An ASHRAE Level 1 audit is the most basic level of audit, designed to give businesses a starting point for making changes or further in-depth auditing.
In a Level 1 audit, the auditor takes a high-level view of the commercial building’s operations and energy usage.
This audit can include steps such as:
- Interviewing key operations personnel
- Reviewing facility utility bills
- Walking through the site
The goal of an ASHRAE Level 1 audit is to identify glaring areas of energy inefficiency. All gathered data is then compiled into a report detailing no- or low-cost changes that can be made to the building, as well as other potential capital improvements earmarked for further study.
When should you have a Level 1 audit?
Before you begin making improvements to your building’s energy efficiency, it’s important to have a baseline of where you’re at now so you can measure improvements.
A Level 1 audit can give stakeholders a picture of where the building currently stands, how it compares to other similar buildings, and what areas need further investigation or improvement. For businesses looking to just get started with improving energy efficiency, or for businesses who find it difficult to “sell” the need to energy improvements, a Level 1 audit is a good starting point.
ASHRAE Level 2 Audit – Energy Survey & Analysis
A Level 2 audit begins with everything in a Level 1 audit but takes the data collection and final reporting a step farther.
The building’s energy consumption is broken down by end-use, helping to identify the areas with the greatest opportunities for improved efficiency. Utility rates are analyzed to see if there are opportunities to secure a lower rate.
Important building personnel also are interviewed to provide insights into characteristics of the building’s operations, areas of potential problems, and to define the financial and non-financial goals for the audit.
A Level 2 audit provides enough data to justify the implementation of a project without the need for additional data collection and analysis.
When should you have a Level 2 audit?
An ASHRAE Level 2 audit is for those businesses wishing to improve energy efficiency, hone in on how the whole building is functioning, and identify the projects that will provide the greatest energy reduction at the best return on investment (ROI).
ASHRAE Level 3 Audit – Detailed Analysis of Intensive Capital Improvements
A Level 3 audit builds on the findings and recommendations of a Level 2 audit by offering a more in-depth engineering analysis of potential changes.
Detailed gathering of data in the field is conducted, and that data is analyzed more intensely for areas of improvement and potential costs.
Existing data on utilities is supplemented by sub-metering of the energy consumption of key systems such as HVAC, as well as monitoring of those systems’ individual characteristics.
A Level 3 report offers a better baseline, allowing the business to compare energy and operating savings both pre- and post-implementation.
When should you have a Level 3 audit?
Level 3 audits are for those businesses that have already completed a Level 2 audit, has identified capital cost projects that it wants to undertake, but needs more data before making that size of an investment.
Energy Audit Software for Better ASHRAE Audits
No matter what level of ASHRAE energy audit your business wants to complete, you need a tool that helps you gather the necessary data quickly and accurately. With EMAT Field Auditor, you can collect, store, and analyze data from any tablet or mobile device, decreasing the time spent on your audit.
4 Reasons for the Increased Demand for Energy Audits & 3 Ways Energy Audit Software Can Help
Going green is all the rage right now, with everyone from large corporations to individual citizens looking for ways to decrease their impact.
Among the changes seen by this trend toward sustainability has been an increased demand for energy audits, something that was largely on the fringes more than a decade ago.
Now, there’s an increased demand for efficient, effective, affordable energy audits, giving business owners, governments, and individual citizens the information they need when they want it.
4 Reasons for the Increased Demand for Energy Audits
The demand for energy audits has been on the rise for much of the last decade, as the United States caught up to the international energy auditing push in European countries.
There are a few reasons why the demand has skyrocketed, and why it’s predicted to continue:
Increase in Regulations
Currently, 31 cities and three states have some form of energy benchmarking requirements on the books.
While individual jurisdiction requirements differ, laws range from requiring benchmarking in public and commercial buildings to requiring buildings to achieve performance targets or complete additional actions.
All federal buildings are required to conduct energy audits and benchmark energy use, no matter where they’re located.
These regulations only are expected to continue to expand nationwide.
This increase in regulations not only expands demand among businesses with locations where benchmarking is required, but also among other businesses trying to get ahead of the curve. Even though benchmarking may not be required where a business is located, leaders want to get a plan in place for their buildings in the event that regulations do come into play.
Additionally, multi-location businesses that are required to benchmark at some locations may want to create comprehensive benchmarking plans for all their locations, leading to more demand for energy audits.
A changing planet is at the heart of much of the push to perform energy audits and reduce energy usage.
With commercial buildings making up about 40 percent of the total energy consumption in the United States in 2018, reducing commercial use could impact the nationwide carbon output significantly.
Because of the focus on climate change and looking for ways to reduce emissions, concerned business owners are pursuing energy audits on their own.
Many of these business owners are looking for a quick, affordable solution for evaluating their energy use and finding ways to reduce consumption. This increases the demand for energy audits and software to make the energy audit process less cumbersome to busy business owners.
Utility Rebate Programs
While some municipalities are going the legal route and requiring energy audits and benchmarking, others are giving incentives to businesses and homeowners for making better energy decisions.
Utility rebate programs are available in a variety of states for everything from replacing aging, inefficient boilers and air conditioners to switching out light bulbs.
As business owners and homeowners continue to look for ways to make their dollars stretch farther, many are taking advantage of these rebate programs and installing new, more sustainable technology.
In many cases, installing new appliances or technology means getting an idea of just how much energy will be saved by the replacement. This means an energy audit before anything is switched out, followed by Measurement and Verification (M&V) after the new technology is in place.
Mortgage Companies & Banks
Consumers are demanding to know how much energy the buildings they’re living and working in use at a higher rate.
To help meet this demand, many mortgage companies, banks, and property developers require energy audits before a property even will be considered for a sale.
Energy-efficient buildings are far easier to market and can fetch higher asking prices, making an energy audit a positive financial decision for everyone involved in the sale.
3 Ways Energy Audit Software Can Meet the Increased Demand
With the increased demand for energy audits comes the requirement from building owners and homeowners that audits be faster and more affordable.
Here are three ways that energy audit software can help meet the growing need for energy audits:
Old energy audits were time-consuming.
They required pen and paper data and hand calculations. And if you transposed a number or couldn’t read your own writing, you had to go back and check everything again.
With energy audit software, you’re able to capture everything – data, photos, and measurements – all in the field with total accuracy.
Once you get back to the office, you can easily use the software to make calculations and comparisons, making creating a final report or developing an action plan quicker and easier.
Time is money, and the less time you spend conducting an energy audit, the more money you can make.
With energy audit software, you and your team can swiftly collect all the data you’ll need, spending less time in the field.
Quickly compare numbers, look at pictures, and make decisions on changes that need to be made because everything you need is right there in the software.
With audit software, the whole energy auditing process – from start to finish – is more efficient and effective, getting you back to work faster.
An energy audit isn’t cheap.
If you’re conducting a traditional pen-and-paper audit, you’re using up hundreds – even thousands – of dollars’ worth of man hours to collect and analyze the data.
Whether you’re hiring someone from the outside or using internal manpower, the cost of an energy audit before any changes are made can accumulate quickly.
By using energy audit software, you can more rapidly collect all the information you need to make your energy decisions, saving time and money.
A less expensive energy audit makes any major structural changes, such as new air conditioning systems or lighting, an easier sell because you’ve already saved money on the front end.
Energy Audit Software for Businesses
At EMAT, it’s our goal to make energy audits faster, easier, and less expensive, no matter how much square footage you’re auditing.
With EMAT Field Auditor, you can easily conduct energy audits anywhere you can take a tablet or mobile device. Capture photos, add data, and record measurements from the field, giving you all the data you need in less time.
Why Benchmark Your Energy Usage? (Plus 3 Free Tools for Effective Benchmarking)
Commercial buildings use a lot of energy, and energy usage can almost always be improved upon. However, before you begin making upgrades and improvements, you have to know where you’re wasting energy and money to make the most impactful decisions for your budget.
You could jump right into an energy audit on your building, but even modern audits are time-consuming and can be expensive. And if the building you’re auditing already performs well on its energy consumption, you might not be getting the best value for your time and money.
Instead, conducting an energy benchmark to see how your energy consumption compares to that of other buildings of similar size and use can give you valuable data to help you understand where to focus your time and money, making the most improvements in energy usage.
3 Reasons to Conduct an Energy Benchmark
Finding your building’s current energy usage, as well as beginning to identify any potential weak spots, is a quick, easy process that may save you time and money in the long run. Rather than skipping a step and jumping right to auditing all your properties, benchmarking can give you a starting point to make the process of becoming more energy efficient easier.
Here are 3 great reasons to conduct energy benchmarks on all properties you manage:
Identify Your Energy Hogs
Managing a portfolio of properties is expensive, with frequent repairs, taxes to be paid, and utility bills to keep up with.
If you’ve got multiple buildings you’re responsible for, it can be difficult to fully understand which ones are costing you more money on an ongoing basis.
By using energy benchmarking, you can fully understand which buildings are your energy hogs, giving you insight into where you should focus your upgrade time and money. Tackling the buildings that are wasting the most energy first gives you the most bang for your buck, bringing overall utility bills lower and conserving more energy.
Without energy benchmarking, you may end up allocating resources to your best performing buildings leaving your energy hogs to still be a drag on your efficiency or you could upgrade everything and spend unnecessarily.
Don’t waste your time, effort, and money. Start with energy benchmarking, then audit the worst-performing spots first.
Your days are already jam-packed with meetings and responsibilities, to the point where it feels as if you couldn’t possibly add another obligation.
A single energy audit, even with a modern platform, takes time. You have to make sure everything’s ready for the audit, conduct the audit, and assess the results.
If you’re auditing multiple buildings, that’s a lot of extra time to find in your schedule.
Taking a little bit of time up front to benchmark your energy usage helps you triage where you’re going to focus your auditing time. If you find that one of your buildings is doing pretty well on energy usage, you know you can strike that audit from your schedule.
Not only does benchmarking show you where you need to focus your time, it also is faster than conducting a full audit, giving you answers more promptly.
Many municipalities have begun to require that all large commercial properties conduct routine energy benchmarking. All federally covered buildings also must complete benchmarking to evaluate energy usage.
Depending on your jurisdiction, your buildings may or may not fall under these regulations, and failing to comply could land you with penalties.
Even if you aren’t required to conduct regular energy benchmarking right now, chances are your municipality may require it in the future. Getting into the habit of conducting benchmarks and making changes to your buildings based on the results will make transitioning to these regulations easier down the road.
3 Free Tools for Energy Benchmarking Your Buildings
Understanding why energy benchmarking is important for your business is only half the battle. The next step is determining what tools you can use to get the data you need to make the best decisions about your energy consumption.
Here are 3 free tools to use for a comprehensive energy benchmark:
Energy Star Portfolio Manager
Energy Star Portfolio Manager is a free online tool that helps you track the energy and water usage in all your buildings, and allows you to compare your results to buildings of similar size and profile.
The tool also allows you to calculate your building’s carbon footprint, track and measure any energy improvements you make, and report on your performance.
The Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey is a nationwide survey of commercial buildings conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
This survey is the only nationally comprehensive collection of data on energy-related characteristics, consumption, and expenditures by commercial buildings. Comparing your own usage and expenditures against the data in the report can give you an idea of how your building stacks up against other similar properties.
Commercial Building Energy Asset Scoring Tool
Run by the Department of Energy, the Energy Asset Scoring Tool assists you with collecting information on your buildings that will be most important in benchmarking.
Simply launch the tool, create a building, and input any data you have collected. The tool gives you an Asset Score Report to give you information on your building’s energy usage and suggestions for improvements.
Effective Audits for Modern Businesses
Your energy audit doesn’t have to be a burden, causing you to spend hours walking around every square foot of space with a clipboard and camera.
Instead, with EMAT Field Auditor, you can conduct energy audits anywhere you can take a tablet or mobile device. Take accurate measurements, organize photos, and analyze data on the go for all the audit data you need in less time.
Don’t feel comfortable conducting an audit on your own? Our team of experienced energy auditors can come to you, giving you a painless energy audit full of all the important information you want to save energy and money. Learn more!
4 Benefits of an Efficient Energy Audit for the Hospitality Industry
In the hospitality industry, a massive amount of energy is expended each day. From all the lights and televisions in every individual room to the laundry facilities to clean towels and bedsheets, those thousands upon thousands of kilowatt hours add up.
To keep your hotel profitable and environmentally responsible, you need an efficient, thorough energy audit to show you where you can make changes to keep your energy use as low as possible.
Here are 4 ways your hotel can benefit from an energy audit:
Saving money on your facility’s everyday energy output, whether that means switching to more high-efficiency light fixtures or putting certain switches on motion sensors, is an obvious benefit to conducting an energy audit.
Not only does an energy audit show you the small ways you can make changes to save money, it reveals larger patterns of inefficiency and waste that need to be corrected for best results.
For example, it may seem that your whole-facility heating and air conditioning unit is working well, but it could be running far more frequently than necessary. Changing out your filters or even replacing your HVAC system entirely could lead to significant long-term savings that far outweigh any up-front financial investment.
Attractive to Visitors
Consumers are increasingly interested in whether or not the companies they do business with are environmentally friendly and socially conscious.
Being able to advertise that you’ve conducted a full-scale energy audit on your hotel or resort and taken appropriate measures to make your facility more energy-efficient may attract more guests who otherwise may have stayed elsewhere.
Consider publishing the results of your energy audit, as well as any changes you’ve made to your facility as a result, to your website and in brochures. Send out a press release, too, detailing the efforts you’ve made to ensure your facility is more sustainable.
You’ve put in a lot of time and work on your energy audit and the changes that resulted from it. Use it to market yourself!
Going “green” means your facility may be eligible for grants, rebate programs, or other incentives to help soften the financial blow of making major changes.
Depending on the specific qualifications for any incentive programs, your facility could receive start-up money to help defray the cost of a new HVAC system or lighting, or could receive tax breaks once work is completed.
Not only does your organization benefit financially from these programs, you also can use the fact that you’ve been awarded a grant or incentive as an extra marketing tool to draw in new guests.
If you were able to be known as the “green hotel” in your city, think about what that could do for your overall image and reputation.
Customers may seek out your facility for conventions, weddings, or just regular overnight stays, leading to improved occupancy rates and better revenues. While there will be those specifically looking for an eco-friendly hotel for their next stay or event, the overwhelming majority of guests don’t check on the environmental credentials of a hotel before booking.
Adding the badges of any programs you’ve participated in, companies you’ve worked with, and grants you’ve received does all the marketing for you. Make sure there is plenty of notice throughout your facility about your energy-efficient initiatives so guests are reminded of your work during their stay.
After a while, your brand will become associated with being the “green hotel,” and people will begin to seek you out specifically on a more frequent basis.
Efficient Energy Audits & Auditing Software
In the hospitality industry, you’re busy.
You’ve got to maintain all your facilities, find and attract new guests, manage your staff, and much more each day. You don’t have time to spend days conducting a pen-and-paper energy audit.
With EMAT Field Auditor, you can take your audits anywhere you can take a tablet or mobile device. Get accurate measurements, take photos, and analyze data on the fly, giving you faster, more thorough results.
Don’t have time to conduct the audit on your own? EMAT’s experienced energy auditors can come to you and conduct the audit, giving you board-ready reports that tell you exactly what you need to do next. Learn more!