Question: Rachel asks: What is definition of energy audit level 3? I am looking for a bid template/example of a thorough energy audit – level 3 audit. Can you help me?


Rachel, with the ARRA money coming into distribution in states across the country, terms like this are finding their ways into requests for proposals more and more. Throw into the mix the push to save energy as well as programs like Energy Star and USGBC’s LEED as well as commissioning and energy audits are becoming more and more prevalent in the industry.

As a mechanical design engineer, my understanding of the three energy audit levels is as defined by the ASHRAE Handbook, HVAC Applications, Chapter 35: Energy Use and Management. There are three levels of Energy Audits. Preliminary Energy Use Analysis, Level I – Walk-Through Assessment, Level II – Energy Survey and Engineering Analysis, and Level III – Detailed Analysis of Capital-Intensive Modifications. So each new level builds on the information from the previous level.china

From the ASHRAE Handbook…

  • Level I – Walk-through Assessment – Assess a building’s energy cost and efficiency by analyzing energy bills and conducting a brief survey of the building. A Level I energy analysis will identify and provide a savings and cost analysis of low-cost/no-cost measures. It will also provide a listing of potential capital improvements that merit further consideration, along with an initial judgment of potential costs and savings.
  • Level II – Energy Survey and Analysis – This includes a more detailed building survey and energy analysis. A breakdown of energy use within the building is provided. A Level II energy analysis identifies and provides the savings and cost analysis of all practical measures that meet the owner’s constraints and economic criteria, along with a discussion of any effect on operation and maintenance procedures. It also provides a listing of potential capital-intensive improvements that require more thorough data collections and analysis, along with an initial judgment of potential costs and savings. This level of analysis will be adequate for most buildings and measures.
  • Level III – Detailed Analysis of Capital-Intensive Modifications – This level of analysis focuses on potential capital-intensive projects identified during Level II and involves more detailed field data gathering and engineering analysis. It provides detailed project cost and savings information with a high level of confidence sufficient for major capital investment decisions.

While there are plenty of checklists and how to guides for ‘do it yourself’ energy audits, these tend towards the residential side (, for example, while the ASHRAE energy audit levels include an underlying assumption of implementation in a commercial building.

Even with these definitions, there’s some room for interpretation – each individual engineer might draw the line between Level I and Level II services differently as well, so it’s somewhat subjective.

That said, I was able to find what I feel is a good starting point in terms of a template,…and a sample contract,….

Hope this help.


imageSarah Gudeman

Sarah Gudeman is a mechanical design engineer and licensed EIT in the state of Nebraska. Ms. Gudeman also is a LEED Accredited Professional (BD+C) and an active member of the USGBC Nebraska Flatwater Chapter’s board of directors. She specializes in building energy modeling and audits, sustainable design and environmentally-friendly practices.

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