"Upgrading the energy efficiency of America's buildings is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to save money, cut down on harmful pollution, and create good jobs right now." – President Obama
Open data has fueled entrepreneurship and transformed fields such as weather, GPS and health. Yet in the energy efficiency market, one of the primary challenges is the lack of empirical data demonstrating the relationship between building characteristics and energy performance. Rigorous performance risk assessments of potential energy efficiency measures could support better decision-making among building owners and managers, government agencies, energy efficiency program administrators, and financial institutions.
Recent technology, market and policy drivers - smart meters, energy performance disclosure laws, etc. - are resulting in a rapid increase in generation of data about buildings and their energy performance. But this data is still hard to access, aggregate, share and utilize because it is being housed in many decentralized and often proprietary databases, and in different formats. The DOE Buildings Performance Database (BPD) aims to bridge this gap by compiling and cleansing a large dataset required to assess the likely performance of energy efficiency retrofit measures and services.
Who benefits from the BPD?
Homeowners, Commercial Building Owners and Managers
The Buildings Performance Database helps owners and managers assess and prioritize efficiency opportunities with lower upfront effort. The BPD can help identify whether a building is a relatively high or low performer relative to similar buildings, and whether a specific type of building improvement is likely to have a significant energy savings impact. This reduces the need to conduct in-depth audits on individual buildings. The BPD allows for concentration on regional data and user definition of comparison buildings and parameters through peer groups enabling analysis specific to the user at a level of detail beneficial for decision making. Performance distributions also enable owners to understand performance risk of specific energy conservation measures. Owners are often concerned that energy conservation measures will not perform as predicted in audits, due to operational factors. The statistics available through the BPD provide a clear understanding of the range of likely returns. Owners and managers can also use the Buildings Performance Database to compare efficiency project performance to similar projects.
Federal, State and Local Governments
Government agencies often own their buildings and therefore can utilize the BPD in the same ways that private building owners and managers do. In addition, governments can maximize the value of data that is already being collected for various programs by anonymously publishing detailed information through the BPD beyond what may be disclosed with the buildings identified. This will help increase knowledge about local real estate markets, identify the most common energy efficiency opportunities in the local building stock, and enable comparisons to other cities and to national dataset.
Energy Efficiency Contractors
While many contractors have proprietary databases that they use to identify improvements and project savings, the BPD offers a larger dataset of buildings. The BPD could help assess opportunities within buildings, forecast project performance, and support analyses conducted for potential clients and lenders. In turn, this could help contractors offer competitive pricing to break into new markets, or expand the types of ECMs typically implemented.
Utilities and Energy Efficiency Program Administrators
A critical mass of information about the local building stock can inform program design by helping target offerings to the types of buildings and efficiency measures that have the greatest energy savings potential. In the future, efficiency programs could improve the rigor and reduce the cost of M&V through developing custom interfaces using the API to measure project savings and conduct savings uncertainty and persistence analyses.
Lenders and Financial Institutions
The Buildings Performance Database helps investors assess and prioritize efficiency opportunities with lower upfront effort. The BPD can help identify whether a building is a relatively high or low performer, and whether a specific type of building improvement is likely to have a significant energy savings impact. This reduces the need to conduct in-depth audits on individual buildings. The BPD can also increase investor confidence in returns, by using real building data to more accurately predict savings (as opposed to modeled or predicted performance). This gives a much more helpful basis for decision-making than single point estimates. Performance distributions also enable investors to conduct performance risk analysis that quantitatively distinguishes between savings projections and performance risk. All of these analyses support a portfolio-level investment strategy, because investors can look across many buildings to identify the buildings and measures with the greatest returns and lowest performance risk.
An overview of the Buildings Performance Database is available for download here.
HOW YOU CAN ENHANCE THE BENEFIT OF THE BPD?
BPD can become an important resource informing and supporting decision-making and investment across the energy efficiency landscape. However DOE needs more data to enable analysis of more retrofit measures, expand the dataset for different building types and locations, expand the uses and applications, and continue to increase the value and quality of the BPD. The DOE is continually looking for data contributions, and new datasets are being added regularly. To date, we have received data contributions from dozens of exemplary industry leaders including Federal agencies, state and local governments, energy efficiency programs, real estate owners and private businesses. If you are interested in contributing data, please contact us.