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ACEEE Market Transformation Panel Discusses National Benchmarking Trends

The ACEEE Market Transformation National Symposium brought over 350 energy professionals together in Washington, D.C. in April to cover diverse and emerging topics within the scope of market transformation. With two new cities adopting benchmarking ordinances last week, ACEEE held a timely panel on future uses of benchmarking data and data integrity.

The Panel

Panelists for the “Better Quality Data and Confidence through Ratings” included Jayson Antonoff, Technical Director at City Energy Project, Marshall Duer-Balkind, Program Manager for Energy Benchmarking, District of Columbia Government, and John Supp, Account Management at DC Sustainable Energy Utility. The panel was moderated by Jenn Allen, Program Manager at MEEA.

Challenges

While all of the presenters have seen large scale transformation in the market with numerous cities adopting benchmarking initiatives (and many more on the way), they agreed there is still room for improvement in data integrity and opportunities to leverage the data for increased energy savings.

“Owners can’t often access tenant data,” Duer-Balkind said in his presentation. “Also, manual entry often creates errors. The solution is for building owner initiated requests for aggregated whole-building energy consumption data and direct automated upload from utility databases to Portfolio Manager.”

Accessibility and Automation

Both Washington D.C. and Seattle have benchmarking programs that automate information from utility databases. More cities are currently working with their utilities to follow suit using the DOE Better Buildings Data Accelerator program. Other cities, like Chicago, require a third party verification of the data as part of the benchmarking ordinance.

“There is a need to make the data more accessible,” Antonoff said. “For example, the City of Philadelphia found that an interactive map with energy scores was better received by the public than spreadsheets full of data. Making the information easy to find will provide more opportunities for the general public to be more engaged.”

Supp agrees. “Gathering this volume of data and doing nothing with it would be a disservice to citizens,” Supp said. “There is opportunity for other markets to leverage this data.”

For instance, panelists discussed the opportunity for cities to do outreach to building owners to help facilitate upgrades and use existing utility incentive programs.

Tools like the DOE Standard Energy Efficiency Data Platform create consistency, making the data easier to share and more actionable. Ultimately, these tools will enable cities to learn best practices from one another and improve long-term efficiency planning.

“There are three main purposes of benchmarking laws,” Duer-Balkind said in his presentation. “One, to help owners and managers understand their energy use and compare to peers. Two, help policymakers and DSM program administrators with analysis, planning and program design. And then, finally, to drive market transformation.”

For more information on the ACEEE MT National Symposium, visit their website.