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Berkeley Lab Releases Full Version of EnergyIQ Building Energy Benchmarking Tool

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has issued the first full public release of EnergyIQ, its web-based action-oriented benchmarking tool for non-residential buildings. EnergyIQ is free and can be accessed at http://energyiq.lbl.gov/.

EnergyIQ improves upon typical "whole-building" energy benchmarking tools by providing benchmarking at the end-use level, and enabling users to use the benchmarking data to quickly conduct a high-level assessment of energy-reduction opportunities. It also provides users with decision support information to develop and refine their action plans.

"Past users of benchmarking tools such as Berkeley Lab's CalArch and ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manger will immediately see the benefits of EnergyIQ," says Evan Mills, staff scientist in Berkeley Lab's Building Technology and Urban Systems Department. "Being able to move immediately from gathering benchmarking data to evaluating promising energy-savings activities based on those data helps eliminate the 'what now?' frustration that sometimes accompanies benchmarking."

EnergyIQ's development was sponsored by the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program as part of its ongoing efforts to increase the energy efficiency of California's buildings. In the early stages of development, Berkeley Lab surveyed 500 potential users and identified their design and feature preferences. The team 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 clear, professional, and efficient user interface.

Benchmarking can only help energy managers identify problem buildings and save energy when the buildings being compared are similar, so the EnergyIQ developers insisted on including a wide variety of building types and characteristics. The initial database was the California Commercial End-Use Survey (CEUS), which details energy use and building features for about 2,800 buildings and 62 building types. EnergyIQ also draws information from the U.S. Department of Energy Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), with about 5,200 buildings and 51 building types across the country. Users can browse through tables and charts dynamically generated by these databases to find a peer group and metric(s) to compare to those of their building. Benchmarking peer groups can be further refined by applying building vintage, location, and size filters.

EnergyIQ benchmarks are expressed using metrics for building energy use, cost, greenhouse gas emissions, and characteristics. Users can select either cross-sectional benchmarking (to examine a single point in time) or longitudinal benchmarking (to examine building performance over time). Based on user-provided inputs, EnergyIQ generates 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. Results can be saved in customizable dashboards, performance can be compared to target levels, and outcomes can be ranked within a user's portfolio of buildings. EnergyIQ also can import energy data previously entered into the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager system — a significant time-saver for users.

"Make no mistake, though," says Paul Mathew, staff scientist in Berkeley Lab's Building Technology and Urban Systems Department, "although EnergyIQ can identify potential actions and prioritize areas for more detailed audits and analyses, it is still necessary to perform those analyses and audits to develop a successful game plan."

Now that the tool has been finished and undergone extensive beta testing, it is gaining users including public agencies, architects, engineers, and property managers.

EnergyIQ includes licensable Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for software developers or building information system designers who want to integrate EnergyIQ's functionality into their own applications.

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