Managing Building Efficiency in the City That Never Sleeps
NREL Software Tool Helps Building Owners Plan for Efficiency Projects
Data exchange and support software developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is helping community building owners—including those in New York City—meet the national drive toward decarbonization.
Lauren Adams, data science researcher in NREL's Building Technologies and Science Center, said it will take teamwork to implement climate-action regulations nationwide. She leads BuildingSync®, a data collection and management tool created in the Commercial Buildings Research Group.
"BuildingSync helps owners make smart renovation investments," Adams said. "It allows data to be more easily aggregated, compared, and exchanged between different databases and software tools—streamlining the energy audit process."
NREL Senior Research Engineer Nicholas Long said municipalities often lack the staff and resources to conduct energy audits on thousands of buildings.
Building data management involves a range of information, including HVAC systems, windows, architecture, insulation, and even regional climate. By creating a standardized language to easily aggregate, compare, and exchange energy data between vendors, BuildingSync helps cities make progress toward benchmarking goals, auditing compliance, evaluating program performance, and analyzing trends.
"Every building is unique," Long said. "The only way to address energy and decarbonization compliance is through data management tools that help people continuously track building performance and to look at the bigger picture."
Moving to the Big City
Funded by the Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office, BuildingSync was incorporated by buildee, a software platform used by utilities, municipalities, property owners, and energy services providers to rapidly identify and prioritize energy and carbon-reduction opportunities in commercial buildings. The New York City's Department of Citywide Administrative Services and Department of Energy Management contributed to the development of BuildingSync capabilities within buildee that streamline compliance and reporting for NYC Local Law 87, which mandates ASHRAE Standard 211 Level II energy audits for commercial buildings in the city.
"New York City is the first municipality to adopt the BuildingSync platform to identify, prioritize, and reduce emissions across its nearly billion-square-feet assortment of buildings," said Ben Levine, buildee program manager. "With this BuildingSync integration, building owners across the city now can access a centralized energy management platform to track climate action goals, map actions to those goals, and comply with local laws, all while reducing their utility costs and adding value to their buildings."
Levine said the project is ongoing, so the focus is about how the technology helps streamline local compliance into the buildee product for market use. The goal is to provide tools to help private owners and municipalities make educated investment decisions around energy efficiency and decarbonization.
The BuildingSync team is now informing more cities nationwide how the software can streamline the process for them too.