The Future of Lab Benchmarking

Alison Farmer, kW Engineering

Ranking lab building energy performance is notoriously difficult. The Labs21 Benchmarking Tool, our industry's primary lab benchmarking resource, draws on the largest known database of lab energy consumption and is the only service able to benchmark labs against a peer group of facilities with similar functional needs. The Tool, which was launched in 2002, is due for an update. At the 2014 Annual Conference, the I2SL Lab Benchmarking Working Group was formed with the mission of improving the state of lab benchmarking. Since then, the group has been working to understand the way the community uses benchmarking data and to identify new building performance metrics that are tailored to the business needs of lab professionals today. In this presentation, we reveal the results of the 2015 Benchmarking Survey which canvassed a broad spectrum of lab professionals to gauge attitudes and desires regarding lab benchmarking. Using the results of the survey and of targeted interviews, we will present the most promising new benchmarking services identified and any anticipated challenges to their implementation. The session will close with a group discussion on future directions for the Labs21 Tool and for lab benchmarking in general. This year's conference presentations on benchmarking will form the basis of a forthcoming whitepaper on the state of lab benchmarking today.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the potential uses of benchmarking data for labs and those that are in use by the community today
  • List a variety of metrics by which lab buildings can be compared
  • Understand the stated benchmarking needs of lab professionals today
  • Contribute to the discussion on the future trajectory of lab benchmarking


Alison Farmer is a physicist with a deep dedication to energy efficiency in buildings. Ms. Farmer has extensive experience as an energy efficiency consultant for lab facilities, from strategic planning to detailed energy savings calculations. She has taught classes on energy analysis and is chair of the I2SL Lab Benchmarking Working Group. Ms. Farmer holds bachelors and masters degrees in physics from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in astrophysics from Caltech.


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