EnergyIQ, a free energy benchmarking tool for non-residential buildings that can be used by end-users to make quick high level assessments of energy reduction opportunities and embark on action, has been released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The main difference between this tool and others from Berkeley Lab or Energy Star is that EnergyIQ goes beyond helping end-users do assessments to evaluating energy saving options with its decision support tools, according to Evan Mills, staff scientist at the lab.
Sponsored by the California Energy Commission, the tool was developed after surveying 500 potential end-users and identifying their design and feature preferences. The tool developers also incorporated benchmarking techniques suggested by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and worked with Usability.org to create a professional and efficient user interface.
Benchmarking only works when comparing similar buildings, so the developers have incorporated a wide variety of building types and characteristics, drawing from different databases, according to Berkeley Lab. Users can browse through tables and charts generated by these databases to find a peer group and metrics that compares with their building. Benchmarking peer groups can be further refined by applying building vintage, location, and size filters.
Users can choose cross-sectional benchmarking, examining a single point in time, or longitudinal benchmarking, examining building performance over time. Based on their input, EnergyIQ will generate a list of energy retrofit opportunities and recommended actions. Users can access best practices, links to other analysis tools, and other aids to refine those actions, create design-intent documentation and implement improvements.
The results can be saved in customizable dashboards, current performance can be compared to target levels and outcomes can be ranked within a user’s portfolio of buildings. The tool can also import energy data previously entered into the Energy Star portfolio manager system, which can be a significant time-saver for users, the lab says.
But tool developers caution that while it can identify and prioritize retrofit opportunities, building owners and managers should still conduct an analysis and audits before deciding on how to proceed.
In March, the Department of Energy published an 11-step process for building managers to design a benchmarking plan that can help them compare performance over time or between similar buildings and document energy conservation results. The process begins with setting goals and securing top management support for the plan.