Need to Start Somewhere - Benchmarking

“You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure”. This quote (or something very similar)  is often shared with credit being given to management guru Peter Drucker or perhaps something similar was said and often quoted from Dr. Demings who was a quality guru. No matter who said it, it is so true. 

I’ve been struggling on where to start, there is so much information we want to share about creating and implementing a sustainability plan, too much to share in one or two blog posts so I thought I would start with a few comments about benchmarking and then give you a few tools that are out there. This might be very helpful especially if you are just starting this journey. 

No matter if you are a business, government, educational institution, non-profit, health care provider there are probably specific metrics you are using to track your progress towards goals that you have set for your business or organization. This will be no different for sustainability goals that you may set. In future blog posts we will talk about choosing sustainability goals and the process you might want to consider using (Materiality Assessment) to identify targets around sustainability. 

In the meantime we are going to assume that every business andenergy start rating logo organization will want to get their arms around management of their energy usage, after all it may be one of the fastest ways to avoid costs which can contribute right back to your bottom line while also reducing your green house gas emissions. Did you know that EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager is a free tool that is easy to use and will allow you to track your energy, waste, water and greenhouse gas emissions. You may know that you can track your energy metrics in it but may not know about the waste, water and recently added GHG components. Once you get your building information and 12 months’ worth of data plugged in, it will establish a benchmark for you. This tool also helps you compare your building(s) to others in the same category, or if you have multiple buildings you can compare against your own buildings. This tool continues to evolve and building categories continue to be added. This tool also will interface with other tools that you may end up using in the future like a sustainability dashboard tool and you may be able to connect them for automatic upload. You can also upload or download your data into Excel for ease of using the data in other ways. We have been using Portfolio Manager for about 15 years now, so we have some really good data on the performance of our buildings over time. If you really want to get ambitious, did you know that buildings can earn Energy Star Certification? We have done this several times over the years which gives us something to be proud of and celebrate in between achieving other milestones.  Here are some links to help you get started:

  • Overview of EPA Energy Star.  
  • Establishing an account and getting your buildings set-up in EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager.  You will need some building information to set up so you might want to prepare that ahead of time so when you sit down to get this set-up you will have what you need including 12 months’ worth of utility bills (or as far back as you can find) for all of your energy sources, waste hauler invoices, any recycling documentation you may have and your water usage invoices for both potable building water and irrigation if it is separate.   
  • Monthly the EPA also offers virtual training on how to use the tool, what kinds of reports you can extract and many more opportunities.  So get yourself on this email list.

If you are a current Nichols customer one area that we can help you benchmark is your cleaning program. The cleaning and maintenance of our buildings affects the indoor air quality in your buildings and if you haven’t evaluated your current process Nichols can provide you with a Cleaning for Health Report that will help you establish a benchmark and perhaps identify some areas that can help you improve your indoor air quality. Request a report from your Nichols Account Manager, Customer Service Representative or you can email a request to me at [email protected]

Feel free to send us questions or suggestions for future topics.

Renae Hesselink, LEED AP BC+D, Vice President of Sustainability
Nichols, A Division of Imperial Dade