Skip to main content

Step 5: Leverage Data Management Tools

To manage your organization's portfolio of energy-using assets, consider using tools that can help you collect, track, analyze, and communicate your data. Data management tools can enhance the value of your central energy database by pulling data from your database into a single cohesive platform that can facilitate robust analysis and decision-making. There are a number of tools and software options available that range in cost and functionality to support energy data management in buildings and other types of energy using assets. The term used to describe the broad family of tools and services used to manage building energy use is energy management and information systems (EMIS).[1] When considering EMIS for your organization:

  • Conduct an organizational assessment to understand your organization's goals, needs, and conditions
  • Evaluate the costs, functionalities, and benefits of EMIS against the goals, needs, and conditions of your organization
  • Explore both freely available and commercially developed EMIS before investing in tools or services.

Keep in mind that successful EMIS implementation requires an internal champion or point of contact with the capacity and knowledge to support and encourage the regular use of the tools and services throughout the organization.

Conduct an Organizational Assessment

When considering EMIS for your organization, begin with an assessment of your organization so you understand your:

  • Energy and operational goals
  • Internal stakeholder needs
  • Organizational conditions (e.g., energy use and costs, staffing resources, procurement policies, and asset characteristics).

By conducting an assessment first, you are more likely to select EMIS that can combine a number of functionalities that align best with your particular organization's goals, needs, and conditions. See table 5-3 for a detailed breakdown of the attributes, functionalities, and benefits to consider when selecting EMIS.

Energy and Operational Goals

Energy Goals

The EMIS you select should be informed by the specific energy management goals that they are intended to help meet. For example, benchmarking and monthly utility bill analysis tools may be sufficient if your organization has a demand-side energy reduction goal (i.e., 10% reduction in energy use intensity in 5 years), while an energy information system can be more appropriate if your organization is looking to reduce its peak demand in order to take advantage of time-of-use pricing incentives and/or shift into a lower utility tariff rate.[2]

Operational Goals

Your organization may also have set operational goals such as streamlining utility bill verification and payment, improving response time to occupant comfort complaints, or tracking equipment replacement schedules to optimize facility staff time. Ideally, EMIS should streamline operations across multiple departments. Some tools and services are geared for accounting and billing analysis, while others are designed for energy management and equipment optimization. Optimal tools are ones that can be used across multiple departments, such as finance and facilities, rather than for energy management alone. For additional information on determining the needs of internal stakeholders, including staff from finance and facilities, see the section titled, "Internal Stakeholder Needs." Be sure to factor any anticipated savings in staff time and other improvements from increased operational efficiency (e.g., quicker detection of equipment faults and anomalies, changes in load profile, more efficient building scheduling, and so on) into the final cost-benefit calculation for EMIS.

Short- and Long-Term Goals

EMIS should have the capacity to meet your immediate needs, but also have additional functionalities and features to align with your changing energy and operational priorities in the future. When choosing EMIS, consider the assets your organization manages in the short-term, but also think through the additional functionalities you may need to reach the long-term goals set by your organization.

Internal Stakeholder Needs

EMIS can be useful to staff in departments across your organization. With that in mind, you should conduct an internal stakeholder needs assessment to determine how EMIS can meet the particular business needs for various departments, beyond those responsible for energy management. Designing and procuring EMIS that meet the needs across multiple departments can build deeper organizational buy-in, maximize the usefulness of the systems, and ensure the investment is made with both short- and long-term objectives in mind. For a detailed list of internal stakeholders and example activities supported by EMIS, review the information in the section titled, "Staff Resources and Capabilities."

Start by engaging staff from the following departments across your organization:[3]

When considering EMIS, learn the needs and priorities of your organizational leadership, particularly the types of data visualizations (e.g., charts, graphs, and maps) and reports that are important to your department and executive leadership. Having a clear understanding of their needs can ensure EMIS reinforce progress toward the organizational goals set by your leadership and help establish buy-in on the value of the tools and services.

Engage facilities staff to determine the data and functionality that can help them streamline their operations by quickly identifying and resolving operational and equipment issues. For example, consider EMIS that bring together asset and work order data with energy data and deliver the information on mobile-friendly dashboards that can allow facility operators to adjust and optimize building and equipment schedules remotely.

When engaging staff in finance and accounting, consider tools or services that provide billing analysis and verification that can help eliminate or reduce billing errors and late fees and streamline the utility billing payment process. Also, consider EMIS that have effective data visualizations and/or reporting features that show the cost savings (both avoided and actual) from improving billing processes and conducting energy management projects.

Information technology (IT) staff are key internal stakeholders that can ensure your EMIS will be able to exchange data with existing software systems and comply with the IT security protocols within your organization. In addition, IT staff are aware of existing software tools used across the organization that you can leverage to create in-house solutions and save on the cost of outsourcing certain elements or features of EMIS.

Local Government Spotlight: Boston, Massachusetts
Energy and Information Technology Staff Collaborate to Design Hybrid Data Management Tool

During the EMIS procurement process, Boston, Massachusetts, identified a cost-savings opportunity by using existing assets and staff to complete a portion of the scope of work, while outsourcing specialized tasks to third-party contractors. Boston Department of Environment (DoE) issued the EMIS RFP, but members of both the Boston Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and Auditing departments provided input and participated in the committee charged with selecting the vendor. This diverse committee informed the procurement process by taking into account a more holistic assessment of Boston's energy data needs. Recognizing that Boston had existing licenses to a dashboard and data visualization software, DoE and DoIT collaborated to build out the cost structure for delivering customized dashboards in-house using existing resources and then outsourced the utility billing verification to a vendor.

Learn More

Organizational Conditions

Evaluate the feasibility of procuring EMIS based on your organization's energy use and costs, staffing resources, procurement policies, and asset characteristics.

Energy Use and Operating Costs

Consider your organization's energy use and operating costs when evaluating the types of EMIS to invest in. EMIS costs vary significantly. Some of the variability is due to system size and complexity such as the number of monitored points (e.g., only whole building level energy usage versus extensive submetering), extent of software features, and configuration needs. There is no fixed rule of thumb for points per building or per square foot, so you need to determine your organization's metering needs. Be informed of the range in costs and be prepared to ask for a low price per point.[4]

For example, Table 5-1 provides the median costs for energy information systems (EIS) and fault detection and diagnostic (FDD) tools based on research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2019.[5]

Table 5-1. EMIS Cost Summary
Type of Costs, by EMIS Type Median Costs
Per Point Per Building* Per Sq. Ft.
EIS (n = 35)
Base software and installation (one-time cost) $333 $1,500 $0.01
SaaS + MBCx service provider ($ per year) $149 $408 $0.01
FDD (n = 32)
Base software and installation (one-time cost) $8 $12,500 $0.05
SaaS + MBCx service provider ($ per year) $5 $3,503 $0.02
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Synthesis of Year Three Outcomes in the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign, 2019.

If your organization's total energy use and costs are relatively low, your energy costs represent a small percentage of your overall operating budget, or you own a small number of facilities, consider starting with free or low-cost tools available through the federal government, your state, or your utility before procuring more advanced and costly EMIS.

For organizations with a larger energy budget and a significant number of facilities, consider more advanced EMIS that can help you track, manage, analyze, and communicate your energy and operational data. In all cases, think holistically about your energy budget, including the costs to operate and maintain your energy using assets and the demand charges associated with peak energy use during the year.

Staff Resources and Capabilities

Also, consider whether you have dedicated and skilled staff available to implement and operationalize the tools you select. Successful EMIS implementation typically requires a strong internal champion or point of contact who supports and encourages regular use of the systems throughout the organization by educating key internal stakeholders on the systems' values and understands how to harness the EMIS to inform organizational priorities.

EMIS are not efficiency equipment, so it is important to put in place a supported and knowledgeable person or team to leverage the energy and costs savings enabled by the tools and services. Staff roles and responsibilities should be aligned with the use of the EMIS, and sufficient time should be allocated to support a consistent and thorough use of the tools based on those responsibilities.

Below are a list of internal stakeholders and example activities supported by EMIS. Note that depending on the organization, these activities may be handled by multiple individuals or by a single individual.[6]

  • Dashboards and reports: utilize energy dashboards and reports to evaluate performance against organizational goals, create organizational accountability and transparency, and direct investment and future organizational priorities.
  • Utility bill allocation: Allocate utility costs to different departments or buildings in your portfolio according to actual energy usage
  • Utility bill validation: Detect potential billing errors
  • Utility budgeting: Forecast future energy use and utility costs
  • Utility payment automation: Automate bill payment or streamline account processing.
  • Energy portfolio reporting: Provide regular energy, cost, and/or equipment status reports
  • Goal tracking: Track energy consumption and/or costs reduction goals
  • Renewable energy tracking: Monitor and track units of renewable energy consumed on site
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) tracking: Calculate, monitor, and report site GHG emissions complying with any associated regulation requirement
  • ENERGY STAR® interface: Automate data transmission and facilities' certification with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
  • Regular energy performance review: Conduct a monthly meeting to review energy performance.
  • Energy and asset data collection: Compile and maintain databases such as inventory of buildings and assets, energy and operational use, and energy efficiency project performance
  • Cross-sectional benchmarking at portfolio-level: Compare energy consumption with similar buildings and prioritize buildings for efficiency improvements
  • Longitudinal benchmarking at portfolio-level: Compare energy usage across portfolio against past performance
  • Energy tracking, monitoring, and analysis: Track, monitor, and analyze the energy consumption and intensity at the portfolio level to identify trends, analyze scenarios, and develop forecasts
  • Energy anomaly detection at portfolio-level: Identify and flag unexpectedly high or low energy use
  • Dashboards and reports: Prepare and visualize data for analysis and reporting.
  • Efficiency project management: Log and track the status of energy efficiency projects (e.g., start, ongoing, finish) and descriptions of measures and expected savings
  • Peak load analysis: Identify peak demand and hours at the site level
  • Load profiling: Inspection of 24-hour periods of interval meter data to understand the relationship between energy use, time of day, and contributions of large energy consuming equipment to total building load.
  • Measurement and verification at the project level: Establish baseline energy use and post-project energy use to determine the project savings at a specific building or facility and/or across multiple sites
  • Operational management: Analyze facility systems and equipment to determine optimum operating conditions and issues impacting energy consumption
  • System/equipment fault identification: Detect operational faults in systems or equipment with recommendations to guide investigation and resolution
  • Site energy anomaly detection: Identify and flag unexpectedly high or low energy use at specific facilities
  • Longitudinal benchmarking at site or equipment level: Compare energy usage for a system and/or equipment component against past performance
  • Energy tracking, monitoring, and analysis at site or equipment level: Track, monitor, and analyze the energy consumption and intensity at the site, system, and/or major energy-consuming equipment level.

Procurement Policies

Additionally, be aware of the procurement policies within your organization, as they can have a significant impact on how easily and quickly you can procure EMIS. For example, your procurement policies may dictate that you can procure tools and support services under a certain cost threshold (e.g., $100,000 or less) without additional approvals required. Those cost thresholds may differ across departments. As discussed previously in the section titled, "Energy Use and Operating Costs," EMIS costs can vary significantly, so consider the range of EMIS costs in light of your organization's procurement policies as it may determine the type of EMIS (including specific features and functionalities) and departments to target for selection and implementation.

For example, Table 5-2 provides the median costs for EIS and FDD tools based on research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2019.[7]

Table 5-2. EMIS Cost Summary
Type of Costs, by EMIS Type Median Costs
Per Point Per Building* Per Sq. Ft.
EIS (n = 35)
Base software and installation (one-time cost) $333 $1,500 $0.01
SaaS + MBCx service provider ($ per year) $149 $408 $0.01
FDD (n = 32)
Base software and installation (one-time cost) $8 $12,500 $0.05
SaaS + MBCx service provider ($ per year) $5 $3,503 $0.02
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Synthesis of Year Three Outcomes in the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign, 2019.

Asset Characteristics

Finally, understand the number and types of buildings and facilities within your portfolio and the equipment and operating characteristics of those facilities. Performance metrics can vary across facility types and the type of facility can influence the kind of equipment in your portfolio and the site-specific tariff rate set by the utility. For example, energy use intensity per square foot (e.g., kBtus/ft2) is a common performance metric for most standard commercial buildings where heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting equipment contribute to a significant portion of a building's energy consumption.[8] Whereas energy use intensity per flow (e.g., kBtu/mgd or kWh/mgd) is a more common energy performance metric in water resource recovery facilities where pumping equipment is a major contributor of energy use.[9]

Also consider whether to deploy the EMIS across your entire portfolio or just for a subset of your facilities, as that may impact the features and functionality of the systems you choose. As discussed previously in the section titled, "Energy Use and Operating Costs," EMIS costs vary due to system size and complexity and the number of monitored points and/or buildings addressed by the systems, so determine your organization's metering needs when evaluating EMIS.[10]

Evaluate Tool Attributes and Functions

Once you complete your organizational assessment, evaluate the various attributes and types of tools (which vary in function and cost) against your organizational goals, needs, and conditions.

Tool Attributes

When choosing EMIS for your organization, consider the attributes, functionalities, and benefits of the systems. These factors can impact the cost and usefulness of the EMIS for your organization. The organizational assessment you conducted previously can help you focus and select the attributes and features that are most important to your organization.

Optimal EMIS can scale up functions to accommodate your additional asset types and commodities as the system's use expands over time. Be sure to account for the fee schedule for future expansion of the systems (i.e., cost per additional user, account, and/or meter) and the costs of upgrading to newer versions of the systems when choosing your EMIS.

Consider EMIS that:

  • Organize and store data and have a flexible architecture that accommodates various types of assets and can scale up over time to meet your expanded needs
  • Are available to a number of users and offer capabilities that can benefit a wide array of stakeholders within your organization, including the ability to exchange and make use of data from other systems (interoperability)
  • Perform robust data audits to expedite the identification of usage anomalies and billing errors
  • Include features, like custom analyses, dashboards, benchmarking, reporting, and data sharing
  • Provide access to granular data (including real-time interval data)
  • Are supported through an internal expert or outside vendor that provides user training.
Table 5-3. EMIS Attributes, Functionalities, and Benefits
EMIS Attributes Functionalities/Features Benefits
Data Management and Organization Standardized organization of facilities and other energy and water-using assets Consistent organization of data based on the organization's structure or standardized nomenclature; and ease of searching, sorting, analysis, and reporting
Ability to create and track any type of asset and associated data field, customize data fields, and create virtual meters for nonmetered assets Flexibility when used with diverse portfolios of assets, including nonmetered infrastructure (data fields are not constrained to certain asset types or metrics)
Ability to query and sort assets based on any data field Ease of searching, manipulating, grouping, and analyzing data to fulfill analysis and reporting needs
Secure upload and storage of data and related records Backup storage and security of data and related records; ability to easily access and reference bills, notes, or other records
Scale up capabilities Provides additional capabilities and features to meet your expanding needs and demands
Access to Data User-friendly interface Ease of use by a wide number of staff encourages use, reduces need for extensive training
Direct access via a web or local portal Easy access from a number of devices (stationary and mobile) increases accessibility at all levels of the organization
Multiple user permission levels Varying permission levels allow access to a wider range of stakeholders, increasing transparency and accountability
Data Entry and Interoperability Database construction services Setup and upload of 12 months or more of historical data and asset characteristics; provide real-time or near real-time data feeds
Ability to import and convert data from other systems; interoperability through data importer and exporter function (via an Excel or CSV file) Seamless integration of data systems (e.g., Standard Energy Efficiency Data Platform, Audit Template, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and so on); allows data to be used by other stakeholders and software applications (e.g., accounts payable systems); reduces need for manual data entry
Manual entry screen layout that mirrors paper bill Simplifies and expedites manual data entry
Data Auditing Automatic flagging of billing issues and usage anomalies with ability to create custom audits and alerts Allows correcting and reconciling billing issues to recover or avoid costs; see Tool 5.1 Data Auditing Checklist
Data Processing and Analysis Monthly normalization of bills with different start and end dates Aligns usage data by month for comparisons and benchmarking
Data analyses such as weather normalization, benchmarking, energy use intensity (EUI), greenhouse gas emissions tracking Automated manipulation and analysis of large data sets to measure performance, display trends, and identify outliers; ability to search and group assets by a common field allows for benchmarking against like assets, rate schedule review, and analysis based on field of interest
Measurement and verification including cost avoidance calculation Using procedures in compliance with the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP), such as a cost avoidance calculation that computes the dollar savings attributable to energy management activities
Dashboards and Reporting Data displays and graphs for energy monitoring, reporting and decision-making Simplified identification and presentation of results and trends; built-in features simplify financial, energy, and carbon reporting, improving communication and dissemination to key stakeholders
Ability to create custom reports Leverages the granularity and unique attributes of available data, allowing creation of specific and detailed reports based on organizational needs
Customer Support and Training Formal training with a defined curriculum Improved and expanded utilization of tool and its functionalities

Tool Functions

There are five EMIS functions that vary in benefits and costs. The scope and interval of the data utilized by these five functions are different as well.[11]

Table 5-4. EMIS Benefits, Energy Savings, and Costs by Function
EMIS Function Data Scope Data Interval Benefits Whole Building Energy Savings Median Costs
Benchmarking and Monthly Utility Bill Analysis Tools Whole-building or campus Monthly
  • Benchmarking and peer-to-peer performance comparisons
  • Insight into whole-building energy performance
  • Energy use and cost tracking
  • Streamlining utility bill payment and analysis
2.4% (avg. annual)a Free - $
EIS and Advanced EIS Whole-building or submeters Hourly or 15-min.
  • Advanced data visualization
  • Portfolio, building, or submeter energy tracking
  • Energy anomalies alert
  • Load profiling and analysis
  • Real-time demand adjustments
  • Auto M&V
$0.04/sq. ft.

savings on top of typical BAS installation

$$ - $$$
One-Time Cost
$0.01/sq. ft.

Per Year
$0.01/sq. ft. $149/pt.
Building Automation System (BAS) Systems & Components 15-min. or less
  • Improve system operations and reduce energy use
  • Maintain occupant comfort by regulating indoor conditions

whole building
average $4.00/sq. ft, $1,100/pt.
FDD Tools
  • Identify system or equipment faults and isolate root causes
  • Reduce energy costs and equipment wear-and-tear by preventing mechanical failure
$0.24/sq. ft.

savings on top of typical BAS installation
One-Time Cost
$0.05/sq. ft.

Per Year
$0.02/sq. ft.
Automated System Optimization (ASO) Tools
  • Dynamically change HVAC BAS settings to optimize energy use and comfort
TBD $$$
U.S. DOE, EMIS: Crash Course, 2013 and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Synthesis of Year Three Outcomes in the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign, 2019.
aU.S. EPA, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Data Trends, "Benchmarking and Energy Savings," 2012
b2013 and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Synthesis of Year Three Outcomes in the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign, 2019. (n = 45 orgs. 2,627 buildings/Floor area: 224 million sq. ft.)
cMay include sub-metering
dFor each participant, a 'per building" cost was established. This column represents the median of those values. Since the median participant in the 'per building' and 'per sq. ft." columns have different building sizes, the 'per building' and 'per sq. ft.' costs do not scale.

Meter-Level EMIS

Benchmarking and Monthly Utility Bill Analysis Tools

Benchmarking and monthly utility bill analysis tools are primarily used for building energy performance tracking (peer-to-peer or historical) and for validation and management of utility bills.

Example: Deploying a Benchmarking and Monthly Utility Bill Analysis Tool in Maryland

Maryland Department of General Services utilized EnergyCAP for benchmarking and utility bill analysis in order to analyze its current building energy usage and costs against that of previous months. In addition, the tool's audits check for overlapping bills, multiple bills in the same billing cycle, cost per day, and unit cost. Questionable bills are flagged and email notices are automatically sent to the Energy Office, which allows staff to quickly address anomalies and billing questions.[12]

Local Government Spotlight: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Deploying a Benchmarking and Monthly Utility Bill Analysis Tool in Minneapolis

Minneapolis utilized EnergyCAP, a utility bill accounting and energy management software, to track energy usage and verify the impacts of conservation measures. The city used the cost avoidance calculator in the tool to measure the impact of energy efficiency projects on energy consumption and cost. For example, in 2010, the city upgraded lighting and added carbon dioxide monitors to the air-handling equipment to increase the efficiency of steam boilers in a city office building. The retrofits cost the city $78,000, but by using the cost avoidance calculator, the energy manager demonstrated that the city avoided $98,000 in steam and electricity costs the following year—a net savings of $20,000.

Learn More
Energy Information Systems (EIS) and Advanced EIS

EIS and Advanced EIS are web-based software, data acquisition hardware, and communication systems used to store, analyze, and display building energy performance data. More advanced EIS offerings provide a higher degree of automated analytics, in combination with baseline models that are used to normalize for key energy drivers such as weather and time of week.

State Spotlight: Massachusetts
Deploying EIS in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance tracks 5-minute interval data for electricity, natural gas, steam, hot and chilled water, and oil usage across 953 meters covering 420 buildings. In 2016, the agency deployed portfolio-level EIS to help manage those buildings, achieving average energy savings of 14% across 23 buildings. The EIS automatically identifies and reports opportunities for operational savings such as delayed start, earlier shutdown, reduced holiday and/or weekend operation, and baseload reductions. With hundreds of facilities to track, the agency's portfolio-level EIS is essential to staying on top of energy use.

Learn More
K-12 School Spotlight: Aurora Public Schools, Colorado
Deploying EIS in Aurora Public Schools

Aurora Public Schools is using its EIS to support data-driven approaches to energy management. With the help of their EIS, the school district avoided over $1 million in utility costs from 2014–2017 through retrofits, improving scheduling, and monitoring of after-hours energy consumption. Aurora's EIS supports energy management activities in the following areas:

  • Operations management
  • Student engagement
  • Custodian engagement
  • Benchmarking.
Learn More
Local Government Spotlight: Beaverton, Oregon
Deploying EIS in Beaverton

Beaverton, Oregon, participated in a real-time energy monitoring pilot program that saved the city $35,000 annually and achieved 23% and 15% cumulative energy savings from 2011–2014 in the two city buildings targeted through the program. The Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO), a non profit that supports utility programs across the state, sponsored the incentive program. The city paid approximately $17,000 over 3 years to participate in the program, which included EIS installation and access to the services of an expert consultant. With this support, the city identified low- and no-cost recommendations for energy savings and achieved greater efficiency without the significant up-front capital to pursue large upgrade investments. In addition, city technicians more effectively identified trends, responded quickly to equipment malfunctions, and made changes in real time, resulting in optimal energy performance.

Learn More

System-Level EMIS

Automated System Optimization (ASO) Tools

Automated system optimization are tools that dynamically modify building automation system control settings to optimize efficiency, energy use, and/or energy costs while maintaining occupant comfort.

Spotlight: District of Columbia
Deploying ASO in the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia Department of General Services (DGS) piloted predictive energy optimization for air handlers and central plants at six sites. These tools have helped the District to achieve cumulative energy savings of 17% across 25 buildings in 4 years. The results show intelligent load-control algorithms can yield energy and demand savings without disrupting comfort or service and at already high-performing buildings.

Learn More
Building Automation Systems (BAS)

Building automation systems (BAS) are designed to control building operations and indoor climate. BAS are primarily used to control building HVAC systems, but may also control lighting and security systems in order to maintain indoor air temperature, humidity, ventilation, and lighting conditions.

State Spotlight: Oregon
Deploying BAS in Oregon

The Oregon Department of Administrative Services has a diverse range of building types in its portfolio, so integrating building performance tracking into the agency's overall vision and direction represents a key strategy to meet its energy reduction goals. The agency relies on a BAS, benchmarking and monthly utility bill analysis tool, and advanced EIS to track the energy performance of its 44 buildings. The agency estimates that using these tools resulted in a return on investment of over 50% through cumulative avoided energy costs alone.

Learn More
Fault Detection and Diagnostic (FDD) Tools

Fault detection and diagnostic are tools that automatically identify HVAC system- or equipment-level performance issues, and in some cases, isolate the root causes of the problem.

Local Government Spotlight: Santa Clara County, California
Deploying FDD in Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County chose FDD as a key element of its overall management strategy to identify potential faults before they became actual failures and to provide maintenance staff with a tool to address issues before tenants experience comfort issues. For example, at one facility the county's FDD tool effectively identified HVAC system issues immediately, including failures in 120 of 426 variable air volume boxes.

Learn More
Local Government Spotlight: Salt Lake City, Utah
Deploying FDD in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City, Utah, is a prime example of how building analytics can turn a high-performance building design into reality. To reach net-zero performance, the energy team initiated a monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) project at the Public Safety Building in 2015. The MBCx project utilized FDD to continuously analyze HVAC system performance. In 2016, the FDD enabled a 35% reduction in combined gas and electric energy use compared to a 2015 baseline.

Through FDD and additional analysis of the control systems, the following issues were identified and resolved:

  • Simultaneous heating and cooling
  • Over ventilation of occupied spaces
  • Air handlers operating during unoccupied periods.
Learn More
State Spotlight: Kentucky
Deploying FDD in Kentucky

Energy management and the use of building data analytics represent cornerstones of Kentucky's comprehensive energy management program, utilizing both FDD and EIS in its facilities. Kentucky developed the Commonwealth Energy Management & Control System (CEMCS) that enabled Kentucky to achieve 8% energy savings based on data from 136 buildings. CEMCs is a centralized repository of building data used for analysis, which not only helps identify energy savings, but also improves how each facility runs. Kentucky uses the CEMCS to drive the following three approaches to energy management:

  • Routine data review
  • Work order management
  • Savings tracking.

Kentucky also provides a comprehensive public dashboard displaying energy consumption, costs, and savings.

Learn More

Resources: Better Buildings® Smart Energy Analytics Campaign Toolkit
Better Buildings logo

To learn more about EMIS, check out the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign Toolkit that provides helpful resources to help your organization take advantage of savings opportunities and performance improvements from EMIS and ongoing monitoring practices. Resources in the toolkit include:

  • An EMIS primer and webinars introducing critical aspects of successful EMIS use.

  • An infographic and report on proving the business case for building analytics, a report on using EMIS to identify top opportunities for commercial building efficiency, and a report that explores currently available automated FDD technologies for commercial buildings.

  • Proving the Business Case for Building Analytics describes campaign participants’ savings and energy efficiency measures taken in over 550 million square feet of floor area that are implementing EMIS. The energy savings and cost data presented in the report is the largest collection of information on EMIS.

  • The EMIS Applications Showcase highlights award-winning EMIS organizations from the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign. Success Stories from the Campaign include both EIS and FDD installations across a wide array of building types.

The DOE Smart Energy Analytics Campaign was a public-private partnership that encouraged the use of a wide variety of commercially available EMIS and ongoing monitoring practices to help uncover energy-saving opportunities and improve building performance.

Explore Available Tools

After evaluating the different tool types with the attributes and features that align with your organizational needs, explore freely available tools such as spreadsheet software or tools offered by the federal government, your state government, or your utility. These tools may be sufficient for your initial data management needs and can help your organization incorporate data-driven energy management into your operations before investing in EMIS through third-party service providers.

Staff responsible for inputting data into these tools and software systems (where data input is required) depends on your organization's staff situation, but the most likely candidates are an energy analyst, utility bill manager, or an intern. The outputs from these tools and systems can benefit staff from departments across your organization. For a detailed list of staff and departments that can benefit from EMIS, see the sections titled, "Internal Stakeholder Needs" and "Staff Resources and Capabilities."

Spreadsheet Software

At a minimum, create a spreadsheet of energy- and water-using assets for tracking utility billing data over time. Spreadsheets are not a long-term solution given their limited functionality and lack of interoperability with other tools and systems. For example, you must add the various functionalities to a spreadsheet, which requires staff time and the requisite capabilities. Staff changes or transitions may result in knowledge loss and work with third parties for analytics, program implementation, or other services can result in additional cost due to the amount of time required to structure your spreadsheet in a format that is friendly to their software. You can use spreadsheets as a short-term solution to manually manage small portfolios and support early- stage data collection, but they have very limited applicability to larger portfolios, especially organizing, storing, analyzing, and communicating data.

As your energy management activities expand, the need for more powerful tools increases. There are a number of data management tools, including the Standard Energy Efficiency Data (SEED) Platform (see step 3 "Create a Central Database" to learn more) and those outlined below, that are freely available from the federal government. In addition, there may be free or low-cost tools available to you through your state government or utility provider.

Federal Government Tools

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have developed energy data management tools, which are available online at no charge. You can use them as primary tools or as a complement to spreadsheets or tools and software systems offered by service providers.

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager

Energy Star Portfolio Manager logo

EPA's ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a secure online interactive resource management tool that enables users to track and assess whole building energy and water use in a single building or across a portfolio of buildings, as well as other energy using assets such as water resource recovery facilities. With 40% of the U.S. commercial building space already benchmarked in Portfolio Manager, it is the industry's leading benchmarking and monthly utility bill analysis tool.[13] Buildings benchmarked in Portfolio Manager show an average energy savings of 2.4% per year.[14] Plus, many EMIS incorporate benchmarking with Portfolio Manager into their platforms.

Efficient Operations

Portfolio Manager is the most widely used benchmarking and monthly utility bill analysis tool in the public sector and provides a platform for helping to reduce wasted energy in your organization by improving the energy efficiency of your building operations. Portfolio Manager can help you:

  • Identify high performing facilities for recognition and replicable practices
  • Prioritize poor-performing facilities for immediate improvement
  • Understand the contribution of energy expenditures to operating costs
  • Develop a historical perspective and context for future actions and decisions
  • Establish reference points for measuring and rewarding good performance
  • Apply for ENERGY STAR certification (1-to-100 score available for many building types).
Manage Energy and Water Consumption

You can use Portfolio Manager to manage the energy and water consumption of any building. Simply enter your consumption data, cost information, and operational use details. Then, Portfolio Manager can help you track more than 100 different metrics. Use them to compare your building's performance against a yearly baseline, national medians, or similar buildings in your portfolio.

With Portfolio Manager's web services, you can easily integrate Portfolio Manager's metrics into other EMIS.

Compare Performance to Similar Buildings

Many buildings can also receive a 1–100 ENERGY STAR score. This score compares your building's energy performance to similar buildings nationwide. A score of 50 represents median energy performance, while a score of 75 means your building performs better than 75% of all similar buildings nationwide—and may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.

Set Investment Priorities

The built-in financial tool within Portfolio Manager allows you to compare cost savings across buildings in your portfolio. By being able to quickly and clearly get figures that show cumulative investments in facility upgrades or annual energy costs, you can be better informed to make strategic decisions about how to manage your buildings.

Verify and Track Savings

You can use Portfolio Manager to generate ENERGY STAR performance documents for each building, which summarize important energy information. These performance documents can help you to:

  • Satisfy green building certification requirements
  • Document performance in energy service contracts
  • Communicate energy performance to employees, leadership, and the general public.[15]

Building Energy Asset Score

Building Energy Audit Template logo

DOE's Building Energy Asset Score (Asset Score) is a national standardized tool for evaluating the physical and structural energy efficiency of commercial buildings. Asset Score generates a simple energy efficiency rating that enables comparison among buildings and identifies opportunities to invest in energy efficiency upgrades.

Efficient Assets

While the energy-usage patterns within your building can frequently change, its physical structure and major equipment remain mostly constant. These underlying energy assets—such as the building envelope (i.e., roof, walls, and windows) and HVAC systems—have a significant impact on how efficiently energy is used within your building regardless of how the building is operated or the behavior of its occupants. The Asset Score runs a sophisticated whole-building energy simulation and generates a report that gives you the following actionable information:

  • A score ranging from 1 to 10 based on the energy efficiency of your building's envelope and the mechanical, electrical, and service hot water systems
  • An energy efficiency assessment of your building's individual systems
  • Total estimated building energy usage and energy use by end use (e.g., lighting, heating, cooling, service hot water) under standard operating conditions
  • Opportunities to upgrade your building's efficiency, and a "potential" energy efficiency score based on identified upgrades.
Assess Asset Efficiency

The Asset Score assesses the energy efficiency of your energy assets and identifies opportunities for improvement. You collect and enter the following information into the Asset Score:

  • General information: Number of floors, footprint dimension, orientation, and use type
  • Envelope components: Roof, exterior wall, and floor types and insulation levels
  • Fenestration: Skylights, windows, and shading
  • Lighting fixtures: Fixture types, number of fixtures or percentage of served floor area, and lighting controls
  • Mechanical components: Cooling and heating types, controls, and equipment efficiency
  • Service water heating: Fuel type, distribution type, and equipment efficiency
  • Operations (used only to identify appropriate efficiency improvements, not for generating the Asset Score): Electric/gas miscellaneous load, occupants, set points, and operating hours.

Tools: Building Energy Audit Template (Audit Template)
Building Energy Audit Template logo

Consider utilizing DOE's Building Energy Audit Template (Audit Template), a customizable data form used to collect, standardize, view, and export building energy audit information, to assist you in collecting high- quality data about your buildings.

Flow chart on how energy audit data is inputting into a template and distributed to energy auditors and state and local program administrators.

Audit Template provides:

  • Standardized inputs and outputs:
  • Data quality control:
    • Automates error checking
    • Verifies required fields
    • Provides easy access to previously entered audit reports
    • Shares and transfers building records.
  • Seamless data transfer to other tools:
    • Exports data via BuildingSync XML which allows for seamless data transfer to other tools (e.g., SEED, third-party tools), as well as CSVs and PDFs
    • Generates Asset Score Report.
Compare Performance to Similar Buildings

The Asset Score uses a 10-point scale to evaluate the energy efficiency of your building's physical characteristics, such as the building envelope (i.e., roof, walls and windows), and major energy-related systems, such as HVAC and lighting systems. The point value is assigned based on your building's predicted source energy use intensity (EUI) according to the energy simulation results. A score of 10 is the highest achievable score. It represents the lowest expected energy use for a building of a particular use type that is achievable using current building energy efficiency technologies and under standard operational conditions (e.g., occupant and plug load density, building operating schedule, and so on).

Image of example of energy asset score rating visualized on a scale of 1 to 10, highlighting current and potential future score.

Figure 5.1. Building energy asset score example

U.S. DOE, Building Energy Asset Score Website

In addition, consider sharing your building data with DOE's Building Performance Database (BPD), the largest publicly available database of building energy data, to identify peer buildings to compare against your own. Any data you contribute will be completely anonymized and you will receive a comprehensive analysis of your portfolio in return.

Set Investment Priorities

The Asset Score allows you to identify underperforming assets and target them for improvement or replacement based on the list of upgrade opportunities provided by the tool. With this information, you will be better informed to make strategic capital investment decisions that can reduce operating expenses across your portfolio.

Tip: Use Weather Data to Screen for Energy Consumption Anomalies

You can use weather data (heating and cooling degree-days) for the same consumption periods as utility data to determine weather-related impacts on energy consumption. Anomalies in consumption data are sometimes reconciled through an analysis against weather information from the same period. Portfolio Manager and Asset Score both include weather-related adjustments automatically in their scoring methodology. Monthly degree day data by location can be obtained for free at weather data depot.

Portfolio Manager and Asset Score

Using Portfolio Manager and Asset Score together provides a more holistic picture of how efficient your building truly is. To make that process easier and avoid repetitive data entry, you can import your building information directly from Portfolio Manager via a link in the Asset Score tool.

For example, take a look at the building in Figure 5-2 below. This hypothetical building has an ENERGY STAR score of 90, so it operates more efficiently than 90% of similar buildings. That score is based on data from Portfolio Manager; however, the same building has an Asset Score of 4, so its physical characteristics and equipment are not as efficient as similar buildings of the same type.

As a result, you now know that this building is ripe for some capital investment—perhaps a boiler or chiller upgrade or some work to increase the efficiency of the envelope, as opposed to just focusing on operating the building more efficiently. In this case, once you invest in improving the energy performance of this hypothetical building's underlying energy assets and continue to operate it efficiently, it will consume less energy and move into the top right quadrant in Figure 5-2, which represents an energy efficient building.

Image visualizing a hypothetical building efficiency rating currently, and through recommended improvements through Energy Star.

Figure 5-2: Efficient operations and efficient assets equals energy efficient buildings

Tools: Energy Data Tools for Buildings

In addition to Asset Score, DOE has other open-source tools that provide basic functionality for managing building energy and project data, including:

  • Standard Energy Efficiency Data (SEED) Platform: SEED is an open-source database for organizing, querying, and sharing building energy data;
  • Building Energy Audit Template (Audit Template): The Audit Template is a standardized, customizable data form used to collect, view, and export building energy audit information;
  • Building Performance Database (BPD): The BPD is the largest publicly available database of building energy data, with over one million records;
  • Energy Data Vault (EDV): The Energy Data Vault (EDV) is a secure, private repository that allows researchers to test and evaluate algorithms on real building energy datasets;
  • Scout: Scout is a software program that estimates the national energy savings, avoided CO2 emissions, and operating cost impact potential of various energy conservation measures in the U.S. residential and commercial building sectors; and
  • eProject Builder: eProject Builder is a secure, web-based data management system that enables your organization to preserve, track, and report information for any energy savings performance contracting projects your organization may manage.

Tools: Energy Data Tools for Water Resource Recovery Facilities

DOE and EPA have developed several publicly available software tools that help water resource recovery facilities measure and track energy performance (listed below). To learn more about the pros and cons of each of these tools to support energy management in your water resource recovery facilities, check out the "Overview of Publicly Available Energy Data Management Tools" section of the DOE Energy Data Management Manual for the Wastewater Treatment Sector.

  • DOE's Energy Performance Indicator Tool (EnPI) tool is a regression analysis tool to help energy managers establish a normalized baseline of energy consumption and track annual progress in energy intensity improvement and energy savings.
  • EPA's ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is a secure online interactive resource management tool that enables users to track and assess whole building energy and water use in a single building or facility or across a portfolio of buildings and facilities. Portfolio Manager uses survey data and regression analysis to calculate an ENERGY STAR score, which allows buildings and water resource recovery facilities to compare energy performance against peers. In the case of water resource recovery facilities, the score applies to primary, secondary, and advanced treatment facilities that process more than 0.6 mgd, with or without nutrient removal capacity.
  • EPA Energy Assessment Tool (EAT) is a spreadsheet-based tool that enables water resource recovery facilities to easily and quickly develop metrics for energy efficiency and energy savings. Facilities can develop absolute, flow-normalized, and biochemical oxygen demand load-normalized values with this tool.

For additional resources on water resource recovery facilities see:

State Government Tools

Some states have procured EMIS and made them available to their agencies, local governments, and K-12 school districts. By providing robust energy data management tools at no or low-cost, states can play a pivotal role in facilitating data-driven energy management in public-sector organizations across their jurisdictions. Through access to a state-sponsored EMIS, state agencies, local governments, and K-12 schools can adopt energy management practices and standards integrated into a common platform, which creates methodological consistency across users. Below are a few examples of EMIS offered by state governments, most of which are offered at no- or low-cost to local governments and/or K-12 school districts in the state.

Massachusetts MassEnergyInsight

Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources developed MassEnergyInsight (MEI) in conjunction with the Peregrine Energy Group. It is available at no cost to every city, town, and region in Massachusetts.

MEI is a robust, user-friendly centralized Energy Information System containing data on electricity, natural gas, and oil usage. The tool automatically uploads this data from investor-owned utilities in compliance with Massachusetts General Law 25a, section 7.

The MEI system delivers:

  • Energy usage data compiled into a single online location
  • Comprehensive reporting capabilities
  • Information for energy cost control and greater budget predictability
  • Analysis for efficiency, conservation, and cost reduction commitments
  • Official baseline to support grant applications and required measurement criteria
  • Support for emissions reporting and green initiatives.[16]

Minnesota and Iowa B3 Benchmarking Tools

Both Minnesota and Iowa have made the B3 Benchmarking Tool freely available to their state departments, local governments, and K-12 schools. The B3 Benchmarking Tool is a web-based tool specifically designed for management and reduction of building energy consumption. Running on the Software as a Service (SAAS) content management platform, B3 is an easily accessible analysis tool with six main views:

  • Summary view
  • Benchmark view
  • Peer-comparison view
  • ENERGY STAR Score view
  • Baseline view.

Utilizing these views, building energy performance can be assessed from different angles. The tool provides results on screen and by importing and exporting Excel data.[17]

Colorado EnergyCAP

In 2008, the Colorado Governor's Energy Office (GEO) announced the selection of of EnergyCAP, a utility bill accounting and energy management software, to help the state reach its energy efficiency goals. Building on this agreement, the publisher of EnergyCAP and the GEO agreed in 2010 to a preferred pricing schedule for local governments, K-12 schools, and political subdivisions in Colorado. Through preferred pricing, organizations in Colorado can use the same software as the state, but at a discounted rate. For example, Denver, Colorado, utilizes EnergyCAP to help monitor progress toward its goal to reduce building energy use by 20% by 2020 compared to a 2011 baseline year.

Kentucky Commonwealth Energy Management and Control System

Kentucky implemented the Commonwealth Energy Management and Control System (CEMCS), a public website that tracks real-time energy use and savings in state buildings. CEMCS is integrated with utility company billing, building automation systems, and statewide accounting systems. The CEMCS dashboard displays each participating facility's:

  • Agency and location
  • Number of occupants
  • Square footage
  • Year built
  • ENERGY STAR score
  • Total energy (kBtu), electricity, natural gas, water/sewer, and greenhouse gas savings compared to the state's 2009 baseline year.

Utility Tools

New York Power Authority New York Energy Manager

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is America's largest state power organization, with 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. Smart analytics is one of four core strategies that New York chose to help achieve the goals of Executive Order 88 that directed state agencies and authorities to improve the energy efficiency of state buildings. As part of this executive order, NYPA must submit an annual report to the Governor detailing the overall progress of the state portfolio toward a 20% energy efficiency improvement goal by 2020.

As a result, NYPA launched a virtual online hub, New York Energy Manager (NYEM), to provide expanded real-time management of facility energy supply, consumption, and costs. This effort is part of the BuildSmart NY program to accelerate energy efficiency in state-owned buildings. NYEM is a free energy management platform accessible via web or mobile device for NYPA customers that offers:

  • Smart alerts
  • Facility diagnostics
  • Project tracking.

Commonwealth Edison Company Business Energy Analyzer

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd), a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, is an investor-owned utility that provides electric service to more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois. ComEd provides its "customers" access to the Business Energy Analyzer, a free online tool to help manage their energy use and costs. The free tool enables customers in Illinois to:

  • Analyze their energy use with interactive graphs and charts
  • Explore personalized energy efficiency recommendations
  • Learn how their energy usage patterns compare with similar facilities
  • Share savings tips with co-workers.

Salt River Project SPATIA Energy Information Services

Salt River Project (SRP) is a community-based not-for-profit water and energy company that provides water and power to more than 2 million people living in central Arizona. For a monthly fee, SRP customers have access to SPATIA Energy Information Services, a tool that provides near-real-time energy usage information. The features of the SPATIA tool include:

  • Ability to view energy consumption and demand in near real time
  • Access to energy usage graphs and charts that can be viewed anytime, anywhere via a password-protected interactive website
  • Flexible report timeframes
  • Multiple sites can be logged on one graph or reported in one table and meters can be added together for reporting purposes
  • Data can be downloaded for export to other data analysis software
  • Online access to summary and comparison reports, including most recent bill, bill histories, and average daily kWh per month.

Service Provider Tools

There are also a number of service providers that offer EMIS. These third-party tools and software systems can offer enhanced capabilities and functionality that can expedite analysis of trends and can pinpoint anomalies through automatic auditing and one-touch reporting. Some service providers offer cloud-based software that can improve engagement with key stakeholders, while others offer systems with the capability to link directly to accounts payable systems, optimizing your organization's business operations.

Examples: A County and K-12 School Leveraged Utility Rebates and Grants to Acquire EMIS

Kitsap County, Washington, is using Utility Manager, a resource accounting software for management of utility billing data, provided by its utility, Puget Sound Energy, to help reach its goal of reducing energy use by 30% by 2020 from a 2009 baseline year.

Camas School District, located in southern Washington, received a grant from the Bonneville Power Administration that allowed the school district to obtain Utility Manager Pro at no cost.

Implementation and Maintenance

When exploring EMIS from third-party service providers, consider the implementation and maintenance of these tools and systems as part of the evaluation process. Factors to consider include:

  • Integration and compatibility with existing systems
  • Site versus cloud hosting and associated security features
  • Staff training, customer support, and warranty terms.

Tool 5.2: Sample Spreadsheet for Choosing EMIS

Download this simple spreadsheet tool and customize it to help you compare EMIS costs and functions and choose the tools that best fit your organizational goals, needs, and conditions.

Learn More

Integration and Compatibility With Existing Systems

Typically, when you acquire a new EMIS, your developer can customize the tool database to your organization's needs and structure. To expedite development, start with a scrubbed asset inventory. The data fields and organizational hierarchy should be identified. For details on data fields and organization hierarchies, see Step 3.

The new EMIS should be compatible with existing operating and data systems. It should also be able to incorporate data housed in legacy tracking and accounts payable systems and convert those files to a format compatible with the existing accounts payable system.

Site versus Cloud Hosting and Associated Security Features

The EMIS vendor should also be able to host the database on either a local or remote server. Having a cloud option can eliminate the need to invest in dedicated servers. Before setting up a contract for a remote or cloud server, consider the level of security guaranteed by the vendor and database backup.

Staff Training, Customer Support, and Warranty Terms

It is essential that your EMIS users have access to adequate training and customer support to optimize the benefits to the organization. Consider the type and duration of technical support and training offered as part of the software package. In addition, review the terms of the warranty for servicing of software and upgrades to newer versions.

Resources: EMIS Specification and Procurement Resources

The EMIS Specification and Procurement Support Materials guide you through the specification, procurement, and selection of an EMIS. The report includes a Request for Proposals (RFP) Template, a Technology Specification Template, and an Evaluation and Selection Criteria Template.

Sample Request for Information (RFI) and RFP for public-sector EMIS:

Request For Proposal Example List: Table with links to 10 RFP examples for EIS and FDD tools.