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Virtual Building Energy Audits

Case Western Reserve University

Data Analytics for Virtual Energy Audits and Value Capture Assessments of Buildings

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,433,281
Location: 
Cleveland, OH
Project Term: 
05/10/2016 to 05/09/2019
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Buildings consume about 40% of U.S. energy for uses such as heating, cooling, lighting and electronics. Significant savings are possible in building energy use, and energy-efficiency opportunities can be revealed using energy audits to quantify and understand a building's energy profile. Unfortunately, available diagnostic approaches such as energy audits, building automation systems, equipment monitoring, and energy simulation can be expensive or confusing. Many involve a physical walk through a building to perform leak tests, infrared imaging, blower door tests, and other procedures. These audits can take days to conduct and are often disruptive to normal business operations. There is a need for a transformational solution to simply diagnose problems, build trust in solutions, accelerate their implementation and validate future economic return of the specific investments.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

Case Western Reserve University will develop a data analytics approach to building-efficiency diagnosis and prognostics. Their tool, called EDIFES (Energy Diagnostics Investigator for Efficiency Savings), will not require complex or expensive computational simulation, physical audits, or building automation systems. Instead, the tool will map a building's energy signature through a rigorous analysis of multiple datastreams. Combining knowledge of specific climatic, weather, solar insolation, and utility meter data through data assembly, the team will analyze these time-series datastreams to reveal patterns and relationships that were previously ignored or neglected. EDIFES will provide a virtual energy audit combined with a predictive energy usage calculator for efficiency solutions without setting foot in a building. The team's goal is to design EDIFES in such a way that beyond time-series, whole building utility data, only minimal information will be required from the building owner for accurate virtual energy audits that identify efficiency problems and solutions and provide continuous efficiency monitoring. EDIFES will be a resource for equipment providers and contractors to illustrate replacement equipment value, a mechanism for utilities to measure the impact of energy efficiency programs, and a tool for financiers to evaluate the potential risk and opportunity of efficiency investments. EDIFES will target the light commercial building space where minimal tools are available and a high potential for savings exists.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, the EDIFES tool will help diagnose building energy issues and propose solutions. The tool would prove especially valuable for the assessment of many light commercial buildings that have not received consideration previously.

Security: 

Capturing novel avenues for building energy savings could reduce dependence on foreign sources of energy. 

Environment: 

A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 87 million metric tons per year, assuming 30% energy savings for light commercial buildings constructed before 1980.

Economy: 

If the EDIFES tool is able to capture and catalyze 5% of the economic potential of the building energy savings, this would represent a savings of more than 1 quad/year by 2030.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Patrick McGrath
Project Contact: 
Alexis Abramson
Partners
Johnson Controls
Release Date: 
11/23/2015