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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – together with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), the National League of Cities (NLC), and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) – announced the launch of the SEED Collaborative, a strategic effort to assist state and local governments manage, standardize and share large building performance data sets.

This new collaboration builds on the success of DOE’s well-established software application called the Standard Energy Efficiency Data (SEED) Platform™, one of the tools in the Better Buildings toolkit that allows cities and states to streamline the complex and difficult process of managing and standardizing building energy data.

“There is an unprecedented amount of new data as cities and states, across the country, help building owners better understand opportunities for energy savings,” said Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency at DOE. "The SEED Collaborative will help cities and states leverage this data to unlock barriers and unleash innovative market solutions that will save energy and money, and grow businesses in their communities."

In the next few weeks, the SEED Collaborative will partner with a select group of cities and states to help them better collect and manage building energy data, and ultimately create new opportunities in energy efficiency. This partnership builds upon the success of early adopters, such as Washington DC and Philadelphia, which piloted the SEED Platform in 2014. A formal announcement with the full list of partners is expected early next year.

“Cities that efficiently utilize and understand the data they collect can provide greater service to their residents,” said National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “The SEED Collaborative is an important step for cities and local governments so they can make smarter decisions about how to use data more effectively.”

In the last five years, many state and local governments have implemented policies or voluntary programs that track building performance data that are designed to help policy makers, businesses, and consumers understand real estate market trends, identify energy opportunities, and make important investment decisions. The SEED Collaborative will create a three-year partnership with the regional and local governments to help them collect, clean, and manage data from different sources across large building portfolios, helping these jurisdictions save money and time as they handle more and more data.

“We live in a Big Data world and the SEED Collaborative gives us the tools we need to talk to each other about the most effective ways to use our natural resources by saving energy in the very buildings that give our cities their unique character,” said Shelley Poticha, director of the Urban Solutions program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The SEED Collaborative is a remarkable partnership that solves the problem of lack of access to information enabling cities to make good decisions on energy efficiency in buildings. We at NRDC are committed to scaling up good solutions and we are excited to work with the innovative leaders at the Department of Energy to make this happen.”

Through the Collaborative, DOE will work with each of these partnering organizations to provide additional technical support and other services to complement how cities and states are using the SEED Platform and tracking and analyzing building energy data. These services include helping partner cities with initial setup of the SEED Platform, ongoing technical assistance, business process support, free hosting services, and access to a peer community of users and developers to share feedback and solutions.

"Collaboration in identifying, establishing, and standardizing best practices on the use of building performance data is a critical step in moving the larger market toward more efficient buildings—a transformation that will benefit a vast number of cities, building owners, and occupants," said Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation. "IMT is proud to participate in the SEED Collaborative and build upon the diverse perspectives its participants, partners, and DOE bring to the table in this important endeavor."

Cities and states that join the SEED Collaborative agree to use the SEED Platform and work the DOE team to establish work plans to help implement benchmarking and building performance tracking programs. Partners will participate in monthly meetings, provide input on software enhancements, and share success stories and lesson learned.

“The SEED Collaborative is another example of what State Energy Offices can achieve with their local government, private, and federal partners,” said David Terry, executive director of the National Association of State Energy Officials. “This effort takes the data conversation out of the abstract and provides a platform for states to continue to innovate by effectively managing and comparing building energy consumption and the efficacy of efforts aimed at improving the efficiency in the institutional and commercial building stock.”

In addition, the SEED Collaborative, as part of the integrated engagement strategy of DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative, seeks to create a larger community of supporting organizations, software developers, and product and services companies to expand interoperability of SEED-based products and other applications that enhance data management, promote information transparency, and drive market valuation of building energy performance.