Compressed air is one of the principal means for energy and material transport in today's industries. On average, the incidence of the compressed air systems is around 10% of total energy consumption but in some cases can reach 25%. Nevertheless, there are still no available energy performance benchmarks based on measured industrial data, taking into consideration actual operating conditions, and referred to compressed air production and, most of all, use. In 2015 the Italian transposition of the European Directive 2012/27/EU (i.e. Legislative Decree 102/2014) allowed to require energy audit to large and energy intensive enterprises. First analyses, aimed at developing energy performance indicators, showed some limitations in data collection. For these reasons, a questionnaire has been composed in order to identify the actions to be undertaken, we need to start from "specific" consumption by type of production. In particular, the questionnaire has made possible to identify some necessary actions to develop a rational compressed air production and use management system using measuring systems suitable for monitoring and controlling operations. The survey is aimed at the energetic analysis of the operating conditions of the compressors and their technical characteristics for a sample of companies, selected among those with a compressed air consumption of 5% EE. The present study aims to define a measurement procedure that will ensure the availability of the necessary data for proper benchmarking of energy performance in production and use of compressed air. © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.