DOE’s Building Energy Asset Score Platform: A Useful First Step to Efficiency

April 4, 2016 By Carl Weinschenk

buildingsA full-blown building energy assessment can lead to great savings. However, the assessment itself is a costly affair. The DOE’s Building Energy Asset Score is a less expensive – as in free – approach that provides usable and relevant data that points management toward steps that should be taken. Two versions of the platform now are available.

The Department of Energy began developing Building Energy Asset Score in 2011. It was introduced three years later. So far, according to Andrew Burr, the DOE Lead on Asset Score, the tool has assessed the structure and systems of 825 buildings covering a cumulative area of 83 million square feet of commercial and multi-family residential building space.

The platform, Burr said, is a user interface that sits atop a sophisticated energy simulation system that is similar to those used for code compliance and LEED certification. In the full version, energy managers have the option of feeding data on more than 40 variables into the platform.

The variables used in the assessment, according to information at the DOE website, include such things as the type of windows, physical characteristics of the buildings, its overall energy efficiency, data on the building envelope and the mechanical and electrical systems. Other variables include the use of energy controls (such as occupancy sensors). Assumptions based on how these elements generally work and the typical load patterns by equipment used in the building are made.

A new age in building management, driven by the proliferation of data, is dawning, Burr said. Asset Manager perhaps is not an end in itself; rather, it can help guide building owners and facility managers to those tools.

“In America there are tremendous opportunities to improve energy efficiency of buildings,” Burr said. “That is abundantly clear from companies that have used Asset Score. There is a proliferation of energy analysis tools… I think Asset Score is going to empower this entire marketplace. By providing this very basic analysis it is going significant raise awareness in real estate industry about opportunities to physical improve their buildings.”

Buildings are assessed on a one to 10 basis on each of the 40-plus variables. “A low score means that you reasonably can be expected to do a lot better,” Burr said. “There is some directional information on where you should look to improve.”

One thing that the tool does not do, however, is assess the actual operational use of energy. The goal is to create a profile of how a building should be behaving. The system also provides what Burr refers to as “high level advice” on steps to address problematic areas. Pinning down the specific issues and the best way to address them is up to building management.

The Asset Manager is a book end to the better known DoE Energy Star Portfolio Manager. That  platform, Burr says, deals with actual energy use in a building.

The initiative grew in two ways in January. In a White House ceremony, the DOE and 21 companies – including Ingersoll Rand, Marriott International the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – joined federal agencies and state and local governments as charter members in the Asset Score National Leadership Network. The DOE said that the Association of Energy Engineers, and the states of Missouri and Rhode Island agreed to help the effort. The City of Milwaukee said that it would use Asset score in its Better Buildings Challenge program.

Also in January, the Department of Energy introduced the Asset Score Preview which is easier to use and quicker than the full version of the platform. While not as intensive, it still is designed to provide useful information to building owners.

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