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A Guide to ASHRAE Energy Audit Levels

March 9, 2017 / by Max Dworkin

To understand the complete picture of how your facility is using energy, you have to start by actually creating that picture.

 An energy audit, though not always necessary, can be a useful tool for gaining this type of perspective. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) outlines three different types of audits, defined by how extensive the assessment is and what type of outcomes you can expect from them.

Keep reading for details on what each type of ASHRAE audit looks like and when each may be useful.

ASHRAE Audit Level 1

A level 1 audit is the most basic type of energy audit and involves a high level assessment of a facility’s operations. Not every auditor will go through the exact same process, but a  Level 1 audit is likely to include things like:

  • Interviews with operations personnel
  • Review of facility utility bills
  • Site walk-through

When Should You Have a Level 1 Audit?

When making any operational improvements, having a defined baseline is essential. A Level 1 audit can give energy consultants and other stakeholders a clear picture of where a building currently stands, how current operations and efficiencies compare to other similar building, and can also determine what areas need further investigation and focus. Though it is the most basic of the ASHRAE audits, it can be an important starting point for energy efficiency projects. This type of audit should also take the time to lay out the possible financial incentives available for facilities willing to make efficiency improvements, from government and utility sources.

ASHRAE Audit Level 2

For those facilities that find value in a Level 1 audit, the Level 2 protocol can build on what it uncovered. A Level 2 audit will start with the lessons learned from the Level 1 audit and go further, evaluating building energy systems (including HVAC and DHW) for their efficiency. Level 2 audit interviews with key personnel will go into even more depth to flesh out what energy efficiency measure would be best suited to the facility.


When Should You Have a Level 2 Audit?

An ASHRAE Level 2 Audit is ideal when you want to improve the energy efficiencies in your facility but are not yet prepared to invest in large scale changes. A Level 2 audit identifies those energy improvement opportunities that have little to no cost, so you can start managing your energy use without a huge financial investment.

ASHRAE Audit Level 3

Before an organization invests heavily in energy efficiency improvements, they typically want to have the data that supports how these improvements will impact the business. A Level 3 audit gives the level of detail necessary to make smart decisions about how to invest in energy projects. Like the Level 2 audit, this audit builds on the information found during the previous audit levels and goes further in its engineering analysis in order to find projects which would justify capital investment.

When Should You Have a Level 3 Audit?

When your organization wants sufficient buy in to pursue strategic energy management, even where it involves significant capital investments, it may be time to pursue a Level 3 Audit. The data collected in this type of extensive audit may be the only way to get the kind of funds necessary to invest in large scale energy projects.

ASHRAE Audit Alternatives

While these types of energy audits may be useful in some scenarios, a comprehensive energy management plan does not necessarily require a formal ASHRAE-style audit for business. Rather, the use of an energy platform like Correlate builds on the same data, making long-term decisions easier to understand and implement. The input of a range of energy experts also makes the data you do collect more actionable, while saving you the sunk cost of hiring an energy consultant for these types of audits.

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Topics: energy consumers

Max Dworkin

Written by Max Dworkin


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