DOE to Pilot Commercial Building Energy Asset Rating Program
March 15, 2012

by Penny Stacey, pstacey@glass.com

The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to begin piloting a new commercial building energy asset rating program this May. Details about the program, designed to allow building owners to assess a building's energy performance, were shared during a DOE webinar today that featured Cody Taylor, project manager for the program, and Nora Wang of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

"Energy asset rating evaluates a building's typical energy characteristics," said Wang.

The asset rating will take many parts of the building's make-up into account, including windows and glass used. "If each building is a puzzle, its energy-using outcome is the combination of many different pieces," said Wang. "This information is important to building owners and investors to gain insight into the building's efficiency and improvement potential."

The first, piloted phase of the program will look at office buildings, educational buildings, retail buildings and unrefrigerated warehouses, and DOE currently is looking for companies willing to participate in the pilot phase. After that, the program likely will be expanded to other types of buildings in two separate phases.

Wang stressed that the Energy Asset Rating Program does not replace the similar Energy Star Portfolio Manager. "The energy asset rating program is a complement to the Energy Star Portfolio Manager," said Wang.

According to information from DOE, the Portfolio Manager "compares an existing building to its peers through an analysis of that building's energy bills and operational characteristics."

"In any given building, a number of factors influence energy use and the outcomes measured by the energy bill," writes the DOE. "The asset rating will help segregate some of these factors-those related to the physical infrastructure of the building. The ability to see these factors in isolation enables building stakeholders to better determine whether higher-than-expected energy use is due to inefficient physical infrastructure and specific building systems or to the occupancy, operations, or other factors."

Energy asset ratings will be assessed through a web-based tool that provides both simple and advanced input options.

Simple level input will allow users to input minimal data, and receive a preliminary energy asset rating report. "Advanced level data collection requires a more detailed input set and is suitable for making public statements about a verified energy rating," said Wang.

The final report provides users with a current energy asset rating; a potential energy asset rating if operational upgrades, such as advanced glazing, were installed; and what a typical rating might look like for a similar building.

"The energy asset score may indicate that a building has very energy-efficient systems even if its Energy Star score is low because of unusual operations," said Wang. "The energy asset rating may [even] positively impact the value of a building that may appear to be inefficient."

DOE officials expect the tool to be of use to commercial building owners, investors, and operators, while the reports it generates can then be utilized by utility companies, designers, engineers, local governments, financing sources and valuation experts.

"We're developing this energy asset rating as one piece of the puzzle," Taylor added. "Obviously Energy Star already exists and it's a complement to that, but we're not calling it part of the portfolio, because we don't want any confusion. But really this is a complement [to the Energy Star program]."

Further information is available on the DOE's website.

This story is an original story by USGlass magazine/USGNN™. Subscribe to USGlass magazine.
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