How Third Party Code Reviews Can Provide Energy Savings

Jon Kovar-Tooke

Posted by Jon Kovar-Tooke

This year there has been an increased focus on the health and safety of Commercial Buildings, specifically HVAC and the monitoring of those systems and overall building health and best practices to keep tenants safe. Recently, a few articles came out that caught our eye for a few reasons that got our team talking about what role we at Burnham play in helping our clients capitalize on their findings since they were significant.

Opting for 3rd Party Inspections -Bundling Building and Energy Code Inspections

Building and Energy Code inspections are often conducted by the municipality mid-way and at completion to ensure the buildings are in current compliance. However, a small study by SK Collaborative found that 3rd Party Code Inspections aimed at ‘green certification’ found on average seven overlooked deficiencies per project that would prove costly in the long term or to retroactively repair as they were internal building components, but typically involved insulation and HVAC. We concluded that having a code professional that has your personal interests at the forefront and is reviewing your building in a comprehensive way left little room for error and prevented additional costs while setting you up for long term savings and incentives that are awarded to green buildings.

Data and Results

Resolving issues is a straightforward process and building owners can assume that savings and safety will follow over the lifetime of the building. However, we were encouraged to find out that you can know your actual savings and increase it yearly with relatively small baseline investments ($2k-15k) in Energy Management Information Systems (EMIS) and Fault Detection & Diagnostic (FDD) tools.

The world's largest collection of building analytics was compiled in October 2020 through the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign from the Department of Energy (DOE) and facilitated by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Some of the highlights from the full report include:

  • Data from 2016-2020 from 104 organizations with 6,500 buildings covering 567M sq. ft.
  • 40 different EMIS products used, with average cost recovery in 2 years
  • Projected savings of $95M with $3M average annual portfolio savings
  • Average Energy Savings: EIS 3% (ranging up to 22%), FDD 9% (ranging up to 28%)

How to start saving and evolve to ‘Green’ Certification

The first step is to have an independent code team, like the Code Group at Burnham, review your building in a comprehensive way. Following that, take time to select the right EMIS and see if it makes sense to invest more with FDD that alerts your operations team of specific issues in addition to monitoring your systems. With the new found savings and results, explore the public and private energy savings programs that you can take advantage of to further your efficiencies and savings.

The Berkely lab issued a guide of available EMIS systems along with their findings report that can give you a sense of the marketplace options. With code professionals, software and thoughtful reactive maintenance you can achieve significant savings, but it’s an ongoing commitment that takes focus, regular review and dedication. Simply installing an EMIS system does not create savings; you must act on what you see in the data it provides to achieve the savings and sustainability goals that you aim for.


  • US Department of Energy and Berkeley Lab, with organizing partners BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association), IFMA (International Facility Management Association, Commonwealth Edison), and BCxA (Building Commissioning Association)
  • Abe Kruger of SK Collaborative


Original Article links


3rd party code inspections (for green but also for energy):

Learn More About Code Compliance


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