In isolation, benchmarking can inspire action but provides no practical guidance. With sponsorship from the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is building the next generation of energy benchmarking methods to address this problem. EnergyIQ—the first "action-oriented" benchmarking tool for non-residential buildings—bridges this gap by providing a standardized opportunity assessment based on benchmarking results, along with decision-support information to help refine action plans.
EnergyIQ represents a major advancement beyond LBNL's widely-used CalArch tool, and provides a deeper (and complementary level of analysis) compared to more generalized whole-buildings tools such as the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. EnergyIQ benchmarks energy use, costs, and features for 62 building types and provides a carbon-emissions calculation for the energy consumed in the building, an important part of any businesses' overall "carbon footprint".
Action-oriented benchmarking is particularly useful for opportunity-assessment purposes, improving on simplified benchmarking processes and helping lay the groundwork for investment-grade audits and professional engineering calculations, as suggested in the following diagram.
In developing EnergyIQ, we conducted a survey of potential users representing about half a billion square feet of non-residential building floor area. We also incorporated best-practice recommended for energy benchmarking and tool design published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Through EnergyIQ's interface, users can browse charts and tables dynamically generated from our databases until they find a peer group and one or more metrics and views that they wish to compare to their own building. A key feature of the tool is that it minimizes the time and data required from the user by tailoring input data requirements to the desired output.
EnergyIQ offers a wide array of benchmark metrics, with visual as well as tabular display. These include energy, costs, greenhouse-gas emissions, and a large array of characteristics (e.g. building components or operational strategies). The tool supports cross-sectional benchmarking for comparing the user's building to its peers at one point in time, as well as longitudinal benchmarking for tracking the performance of an individual building or enterprise portfolio over time.
Based on user inputs, the tool generates a list of opportunities and recommended actions. Users can then explore the “Decision Support” module for helpful information on how to refine action plans, create design-intent documentation, and implement improvements. This includes information on best practices, links to other energy analysis tools, and more.
A variety of databases are available within EnergyIQ from which users can specify peer groups for comparison. Using the tool, this data can be visually browsed and used as a backdrop against which to view a variety of energy benchmarking metrics for the user’s own building. Users can save their project information and return at a later date to continue their exploration. The initial database is the California Commercial End-Use Survey (CEUS), which provides details on energy use and characteristics for about 2800 buildings (and 62 building types). CEUS is likely the most thorough survey of its kind ever conducted.
EnergyIQ utilizes a web service based on the LBNL Action-oriented Benchmarking System. Through this system, third-party tool developers can tap the data and methods of EnergyIQ for implementation on their own web sites.