A comparative study of benchmarking approaches for non-domestic buildings: Part 1 – Top-down approach


Benchmarking plays an important role in improving energy efficiency of non-domestic buildings. A review of energy benchmarks that underpin the UK’s Display Energy Certificate (DEC) scheme have prompted necessities to explore the benefits and limitations of using various methods to derive energy benchmarks. The existing methods were reviewed and grouped into top-down and bottom-up approaches based on the granularity of the data used. In the study, two top-down methods, descriptive statistics and artificial neural networks (ANN), were explored for the purpose of benchmarking energy performances of schools. The results were used to understand the benefits of using these benchmarks for assessing energy efficiency of buildings and the limitations that affect the robustness of the derived benchmarks. Compared to the bottom-up approach, top-down approaches were found to be beneficial in gaining insight into how peers perform. The relative rather than absolute feedback on energy efficiency meant that peer pressure was a motivator for improvement. On the other hand, there were limitations with regard to the extent to which the energy efficiency of a building could be accurately assessed using the top-down benchmarks. Moreover, difficulties in acquiring adequate data were identified as a key limitation to using the top-down approach for benchmarking non-domestic buildings. The study suggested that there are benefits in rolling out of DECs to private sector buildings and that there is a need to explore more complex methods to provide more accurate indication of energy efficiency in non-domestic buildings.

Title: A comparative study of benchmarking approaches for non-domestic buildings: Part 1 – Top-down approach

Authors: Sung-Min Hong, Greig Paterson, Esfandiar Burman, Philip Steadman, Dejan Mumovic

Publication: International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment, Volume 2, Issue 2, December 2013, Pages 119–130 | full text (PDF)

Year: 2013