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A typical home or office has a staggering amount of technology on display: the refrigerator that keeps the food fresh, the thermostat that controls room temperature, the array of electronics to enable (and sometimes impede) productivity, the lights that make tasks visible at night. As this large technology base continues to grow, the number of ways that a building can use energy also grows, meaning that the best opportunities for saving energy in buildings are always changing.

This week, the Energy Department's Building Technologies Office (BTO) released the Scout web application, a software program that estimates the national impacts of emerging energy-efficient technologies and systems on building energy use and operating costs. BTO, in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, developed this software that draws from a consistent energy use baseline, standard energy conservation measure (ECM) definitions, and realistic simulations of stock turnover and ECM competition dynamics.

Screenshot of a page in the Scout web application.
The Scout web app provides a convenient, easy-to-navigate interface for exploring inputs for and results from the Scout analysis engine, such as the input technology definitions shown.

Scout demonstrates how new energy-saving technologies or approaches fit into the larger U.S. market for energy efficiency now, as well as decades into the future. It can help individuals and organizations better understand how energy use in buildings might change with the adoption of energy-efficient technologies, as well as the potential cost savings from those technologies.

For example, Scout's ECM Summaries page provides the definition and national impacts of different technologies to compare with similar technologies. The Analysis Results page presents insights about the total impacts of a technology portfolio and which end uses or technologies contribute most to those impacts. The Baseline Energy Calculator provides the status-quo outlook for U.S. building energy use.

Scout has something for everyone. Organizations with large building portfolios can use performance metrics to help justify investment in energy efficiency. Energy policy organizations and nonprofits can look at the technologies through the lenses of their energy and cost-savings potential for a specific region in the country. Researchers interested in the development of next-generation, energy-efficient building technologies can use the baseline energy use projections and ECM definitions to better understand where they can have the greatest impact. All users can download the Scout analysis engine to get results custom tailored to their unique interests.

Looking ahead, the flexibility to add new input data, technology areas, and valuation metrics will be essential in keeping Scout viable as the building energy use landscape continues to change. In just the last few months, Scout’s baseline data has been updated to reflect the latest Energy Information Administration national energy use projections; represent more than 100 new, state-of the art building technologies; and provide analysis capabilities that will allow users to value energy efficiency differently by time of day and season.

The Scout web application will bring new tests of flexibility and open the program to exciting use cases and avenues of investigation that have yet to be explored. In the meantime, get started with a Scout analysis and keep an eye out for new Scout releases.