About the Buildings Performance Database
"Upgrading the energy efficiency of America's buildings is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to save money, cut down on harmful pollution, and create good jobs right now." –President Obama
Open data has fueled entrepreneurship and transformed fields such as weather, GPS and health. Yet in the energy efficiency market, one of the primary challenges is the lack of empirical data demonstrating the relationship between building characteristics and energy performance. Rigorous performance risk assessments of potential energy efficiency measures could support better decision-making among building owners and managers, government agencies, energy efficiency program administrators, and financial institutions.
Recent technology, market and policy drivers - smart meters, energy performance disclosure laws, etc. - are resulting in a rapid increase in generation of data about buildings and their energy performance. But this data is still hard to access, aggregate, share and utilize because it is being housed in many decentralized and often proprietary databases, and in different formats. The DOE Buildings Performance Database (BPD) aims to bridge this gap by compiling and cleansing a large dataset required to assess the likely performance of energy efficiency retrofit measures and services.
Development of the BPD began in January 2011 with the explicit goal of meeting market demand from building owners, energy efficiency program administrators, government agencies, financial institutions, and others. To achieve this, the BPD used a stakeholder-driven process to develop the tool including extensive market research and industry interviews. Our main focus right now is growing the size of the BPD dataset. The more data there is in the BPD, the more useful it will become.
Who benefits from the BPD?
Utilities and Energy Efficiency Program Administrators
A critical mass of information about the local building stock can inform program design by helping target offerings to the types of buildings and efficiency measures that have the greatest energy savings potential. In the future, efficiency programs could improve the rigor and reduce the cost of M&V through developing custom interfaces using the API to measure project savings and conduct savings uncertainty and persistence analyses.
Building Owners and Managers
The Buildings Performance Database helps owners and managers assess and prioritize efficiency opportunities with lower upfront effort. The BPD can help identify whether a building is a relatively high or low performer relative to similar buildings, and whether a specific type of building improvement is likely to have a significant energy savings impact. This reduces the need to conduct in-depth audits on individual buildings. Performance distributions also enable owners to understand performance risk of specific energy conservation measures. Owners are often concerned that energy conservation measures will not perform as predicted in audits, due to operational factors. The statistics available through the BPD provide a clear understanding of the range of likely returns. Owners and managers can also use the Buildings Performance Database to compare efficiency project performance to similar projects.
Federal, State and Local Governments
Government agencies often own their buildings and therefore can utilize the BPD in the same ways that private building owners and managers do. In addition, by contributing data to the BPD, governments enable public access to statistical information about buildings in their locality, without sharing building level information. This can help establish local market benchmarks for energy performance, which influence building investment decisions.
Energy Efficiency Contractors:
While many contractors have proprietary databases that they use to identify improvements and project savings, the BPD offers a larger dataset of buildings. The BPD could help assess opportunities within buildings, forecast project performance, and support analyses conducted for potential clients and lenders. In turn, this could help contractors offer competitive pricing to break into new markets, or expand the types of ECMs typically implemented.
Lenders and Financial Institutions:
The Buildings Performance Database helps investors assess and prioritize efficiency opportunities with lower upfront effort. The BPD can help identify whether a building is a relatively high or low performer, and whether a specific type of building improvement is likely to have a significant energy savings impact. This reduces the need to conduct in-depth audits on individual buildings. The BPD can also increase investor confidence in returns, by using real building data to more accurately predict savings (as opposed to modeled or predicted performance). This gives a much more helpful basis for decision-making than single point estimates. Performance distributions also enable investors to conduct performance risk analysis that quantitatively distinguishes between savings projections and performance risk. All of these analyses support a portfolio-level investment strategy, because investors can look across many buildings to identify the buildings and measures with the greatest returns and lowest performance risk.