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Energy Star and cove.tool

How cove.tool can help with calculating the ENERGY STAR Score for design projects?

Patrick Chopson avatar
Written by Patrick Chopson
Updated over a week ago

This article covers the Portfolio Manager and Target Finder tools within the ENERGY STAR program, as well as how to use the platform to generate the inputs needed to start the Energy Star certification process.

What is Energy Star?

ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program formed in 1992 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promote energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR program helps consumers, businesses, and industries save money and protect the environment through the adoption of energy-efficient products and practices. A critical part of Energy Star is its ENERGY STAR rating system, which focuses on three main areas:

  1. New and Existing Homes (0-100 Rating System)

  2. Commercial Businesses (0-100 Rating System)

Getting an Energy Star label means that a product or a building is cost-effective and meets the criteria and federally mandated guidelines regarding the energy-efficiency. While additional services and programs are available within the Energy Star program, this article mainly focuses on Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which is one of the program's robust tools.

What is Energy Star Portfolio Manager?

The Energy Star Portfolio Manager is an online resource management tool that tracks and assesses energy use, water use, waste, and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, Portfolio Manager is a benchmarking tool that can compare the performance of buildings against a yearly baseline, national median, or by buildings typologies in your portfolio. The following is a brief overview of the Energy Star Portfolio Manager's capabilities:

1. Managing energy and water consumption

By entering the consumption data, cost information, and operational use details, users can track their building performance and manage their consumption accordingly.

2. Benchmarking

Based on the building and energy data entered by users, the Portfolio Manager gives the project a score between 1 to 100 (Known as 1-100 ENERGY STAR score) based on your improvement from the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) baseline. The score allows for a nationwide standard to compare your building’s energy performance nationwide. The scores also create tiers of performance. For example, a score of 50 represents median energy performance, while a score of 75 or better indicates that a building is a top performer and might be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification. Also, Portfolio Manager provides other metrics to compare the current energy and water performance against such as the Historic performance of buildings (over time), national average (with regard to size and type), and the specific target percentage set by users.

3. Measuring the carbon footprint

The Portfolio Manager can calculate the building's greenhouse gas emissions (based on the amount and type of energy your building consumes) and track the avoided emissions from any green power purchases.

4. Setting investment priorities

Portfolio Manager has a built-in financial tool that helps users understand the annual energy costs or cumulative investments in facility upgrades. It also allows users to compare the cost savings in the buildings across their portfolio and improve building management strategies based on this data.

5. Verify and track savings

Various reports and documents can be generated which details the performance characteristics for each of the buildings in the users' portfolio. These reports are useful in many ways such as during the LEED documentation process and reporting to tenants, owners, and potential buyers/renters.

6. Sharing and reporting performance

Users can use Portfolio Manager to share or request building performance data with or from others.

7. Getting recognition

If the building performance meets the ENERGY STAR criteria, it can attain ENERGY STAR certification and get recognition through other ENERGY STAR annual awards.


In what project phase can I use the Portfolio Manager?

Users can use Portfolio Manager for an ongoing Design Project or for Existing Buildings. In the case of an existing building, users can track and assess their building performance over a specific period of time and compare it against other metrics. In the case of a design project, users can save energy and property information of their project for future comparison against actual performance to evaluate design decisions and determine if the building is operating as intended.

Note that in an existing project, users need to enter at least 12 full calendar months of utility data for energy, water, and waste. For a design project, users need to enter their estimated design energy use to then receive the ENERGY STAR Score.

What Building Information is needed?

Generally, the information depends on the property type and location but some of the basic information includes:

  1. Property information: Building function, street address & zip code, as well as year built (for existing properties).

2. Property Use Detail: Gross floor area, Occupancy, Equipment usage, & Schedule.

3. Consumption data: Energy data, water data, waste data (utility data/bills) OR Overall Estimated Design Energy (for design projects).

What is Target Finder Within Portfolio Manager?

Target Finder is an energy Performance calculator built into Portfolio Manager. The tool is used widely by many other green certification programs such as LEED and Green Globes for achieving points especially in energy and optimization credits. Target Finder calculates:

  1. Energy use intensity (EUI)

  2. Absolute energy required to achieve goals

  3. Energy costs and GHG emissions

  4. ENERGY STAR score

Based on the building information entered by users, such as building size, location, number of occupants, number of PCs, etc., the score’s algorithm estimates how much energy the building would use if it were the best performing, the worst performing, and every level in between. It then compares the actual or estimated energy data entered by users to the estimate to determine where the building ranks relative to its peers.

How cove.tool can be used in Portfolio Manager?

The platform helps Portfolio Manager users with providing data required for ENERGY STAR Score calculation. In the design projects, users need to input the property use details along with estimated design energy to get an ENERGY STAR Score. In addition to some of the property use details such as the Gross Floor Area and weekly operating hours, the estimated energy use can be provided by our software. The EUI breakdown for each of the building systems is listed in the Baseline Energy Page. By multiplying the EUI by the floor area, the estimated energy can be calculated and inputted in the Portfolio Manager tool (as shown below).

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