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Buildings have great potential for energy efficiency measures that yield significant energy and cost savings. Yet energy data are not always documented and readily available, making it difficult to compare energy performance in buildings. Washington State addressed this challenge by utilizing energy savings performance contracting (ESPC) and implementing benchmarking efforts to work toward its energy reduction goal of 20% in state facilities by 2020. As a result of these efforts, state agencies increased benchmarking compliance from 17% to 72% in less than two years. Furthermore, investment in Energy Service Company projects, including ESPC projects, increased from $4.8 million in 2014 to $6.7 million in 2015.

With competitive financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy's State Energy Program, within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Washington created a benchmarking-to-retrofit protocol for installing energy efficiency upgrades in high priority buildings. The benchmarking-to-retrofit protocol requires state agencies to act on benchmarking data to effect change and realize actual savings.

To launch the new protocol, Washington State agencies input energy data into an online tool, the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager. Portfolio Manager provides ENERGY STAR® Scores, which can be used to compare performance relative to other buildings. If a state building in Washington scores below 50, the agency is required to utilize the state’s ESPC program for initial audits, investment grade audits, and the implementation of energy efficiency measures. Targeting the lowest performing buildings in terms of energy efficiency helped Washington prioritize its most inefficient buildings for retrofits in order to gain the most energy savings.

Washington also offered ENERGY STAR® Benchmarking classes that trained personnel in inputting information in Portfolio Manager and how to trouble-shoot the data platform. Furthermore, four Washington State electric utilities now offer auto-entry services that automatically upload energy data into Portfolio Manager. The auto-entry service eliminates the need for staff to spend time recording energy data.

With ongoing benchmarking efforts, Washington can continue targeting buildings that need energy efficiency upgrades, further expand ESPC utilization, and reach its 2020 energy reduction goal. Since 2010, Washington State has received more than $10 million from the State Energy Program resulting in more than 800 jobs created or retained.

Read more State Energy Program success stories.

EERE's State Energy Program, within the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office, provides funding and technical assistance to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and maximize the benefits of decreasing energy waste. The State Energy Program emphasizes the state’s role as the decision maker and administrator for program activities within the state that are tailored to their unique resources, delivery capacity, and energy goals.