Key Performance Indicators for Commercial Buildings

Guideline / November 16, 2012 / Outcome-Based Performance

NBI has developed standardized Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for new or existing commercial buildings that provide feedback to designers, operators and tenants regarding energy use. This development work was funded through the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program.

KPI factsheetWhat is a KPI indicator and who uses them? (PDF, 312K)

KPIs are simple numeric metrics of energy usage or observed building characteristics that can be associated with better or worse energy performance (i.e lower or higher energy use). Much like KPIs in other business organizations these KPIs are intended to yield the best information for the least cost and analysis time.  For a commercial building this process helps to keep energy usage as low as possible by providing specific KPI feedback to those who influence energy usage. Ideally KPIs allow:

  • Designers to better understand the impact of their design choices apart from operator or occupant choices
  • Designers and Owners to have a simple framework to reference when defining requirements for energy monitoring equipment and analysis for their new or existing building project
  • Building operators or building auditors to have standard KPIs to assist a “no-touch” energy assessment
  • Tenants or owner occupants to compare their energy use against other similar spaces to determine their impact on the overall building energy use

NBI, with great assistance from project partners, conducted research through the PIER program of the California Energy Commission to identify a KPI approach for commercial buildings.


Why Use KPIs to Assess Building Performance?

While there is increasing pressure to add more metering, monitoring and analysis on commercial building projects, there is no direction on what to do with the resulting data. This results in confusion and higher analysis costs in both time and money. These KPIs are drawn from our research and represent the latest thinking on best practice data collection for building performance feedback.

What are the KPI Building Levels? (PDF, 297K)

Ideally these KPIs provide reliable standardized analysis using the available data for existing buildings or by guiding the placement of meters in new construction projects.

What are the recommended KPIs for commercial buildings at the different levels for designers, operators, and tenants? (PDF, 243K)

KPI materialsTo assist owners and designers in getting the level of feedback they want, we provide simple specification language for each level that can go into construction documents. These are organized by increasing complexity of metering, beginning with Level 0 (Whole Building Monthly Data) and proceeding to Level III (Whole Building Interval Data with System Submetering.)

Level 0    Whole Building Monthly Data
Level I     Whole Building Electric Interval Data
Level II    Whole Building Interval Data with Tenant Plug Load System
Level III   System Level Interval Data Analysis

NBI’s recommendations and KPIs represent a minimum and standard set of information to be collected. Building owners and operators frequently use additional analysis and monitoring, not covered in the KPI materials, to improve operational performance. These recommendations should be seen as a way to ensure a certain minimum set of information and pass these on as requirements in construction documents to Energy Management Information Systems (EMIS) or Building Automation System (BAS) vendors.

NBI is very involved in energy code development and monitors other policy actions that influence the use of measured performance data. Notably many energy codes are addressing building energy metering in ways similar to the NBI building levels. The codes use differing approaches to require detailed metering on certain building systems or end-uses.

What are the code and policy actions involving energy monitoring?(PDF, 215K)

The KPI approach integrates findings from the Sensitivity Analysis, a modeled parametric study that examined the impact of particular building characteristics and choices by the operator and tenants.

Sensitivity Analysis: What characteristics of commercial buildings have the greatest impact on commercial energy use?