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Benchmarking for Labs: Not Just a Waste of Your Audit Budget


Lab buildings present unique challenges for energy auditors. While both energy intensity and savings potential are high, labs tend to have complex functional requirements and safety considerations that make facility assessment and measure identification difficult to do in a meaningful way. In particular, energy benchmarking (a required activity in any ASHRAE audit) has long been seen as a throwaway activity for lab buildings – outdated tools, poor data quality, and the challenge of selecting true peer facilities have given lab benchmarking a reputation for futility. However, big changes are coming: the famous Labs21 Benchmarking Tool is being retired after 17 years and is being replaced with a brand new (and still free to use!) tool from DOE, LBNL, and I2SL. This presentation will describe the challenges of lab auditing and benchmarking and then introduce the new tool, which aims to modernize and bring actionability to lab benchmarking and make it a truly useful part of all lab building energy audits.

Presented By

Alison Farmer, Ph.D.

kW Engineering

Alison is a former research astrophysicist who’s now trying to save this planet instead by bringing energy efficiency to lab buildings. She’s a director at kW Engineering, where she focuses on energy analysis and on design and commissioning of HVAC control systems. Alison has chaired I2SL’s lab benchmarking working group since its inception in 2014, is Vice President of the I2SL Northern California Chapter, and was a 2018 recipient of an I2SL Go Beyond Award. She has bachelors and masters degrees in physics from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in astrophysics from Caltech.