“Whole Building [Energy Analysis] projects save roughly 3X more energy per square foot than do systems projects, and they also produce a higher growth realization rate.” – Study for California’s Investor-Owned Utilities
The Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) recently invited speakers from PG&E, Autodesk and First Fuel among others to address continuous learners on the topic of software analytics tools that attempt to remotely assess whole-building energy performance.
According to the event organizer:
These techniques have the potential to revolutionize many energy efficiency programs that are currently limited by deemed savings and code-based measure performance. There are fierce debates in the DSM (Demand-side management) world, and the new technologies can offer options to help bridge ideological gaps between whole building and conventional engineering calculation approaches. Autodesk, FirstFuel, and Cake Systems are among a new breed of software providers whose solutions enable whole-building programs targeted at existing commercial or residential buildings.”
The speaker from PG&E explained that the utility is using advanced data analytics as both a tool for customer engagement and motivation, as well as to enable performance tracking and regulatory measurement and verification. Autodesk spoke to how building information modeling(BIM) and advanced simulation approaches like those possible with Revit are being used for energy assessments and audits, as well as to drive deeper energy retrofits. Autodesk’s Aniruddha Deodhar explained that energy conservation measures recommended by this modeling approach typically lead to fundamental design changes in the building – daylight controls, insulation, window upgrades etc., thus greater energy savings.
Among the software analytics-enabled programs tested by PG&E is a whole-building performance-based approach offered to commercial facilities of greater than 50kW in electric demand. The PG&E speaker reported that this program is designed to deliver over 15% post-installation energy savings using analytics software provided by First Fuel and C3. Participants are offered an upfront incentive and a performance incentive tied directly to achieved savings through implementing the retrofit, operational and behavior efficiency measures suggested by the tools.
A highlight of the Autodesk portion of the presentation was an overview of its Rapid Energy Modeling for Existing Buildings. This method uses capture options like satellite and aerial images, photos, drawings, laser measuring, plus basic building data gleaned directly from Revit building information models. As presented in the graph above, all the options of whole building performance assessment may have their place, depending on the scenario. This category of software analytics is new, so it’s early to draw conclusions based on sample size.