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Upgraded Energy Star Portfolio Manager Features Building Design As Part Of Target Finder

One of the more potentially impactful features of the upgraded Energy Star Portfolio Manager is the incorporation of the building design aspects of the Target Finder calculator. Target Finder is a sort of scenario-planner that allows designers to test certain aspects of design to see what effect they'll have on energy use in the completed building. If a building is expected to score at least a 75 on the Energy Star scale, a building is designated as Designed To Earn the Energy Star.

Of course, following through from design intent to operational efficiency has long been a challenge for designers and facility managers alike. "With the update, it's tremendously easier to bridge the gap," says Lupinacci. "A new part of the tool helps users manage buildings in the design phase so you can make a building part of the portfolio before it actually exists. New buildings become existing buildings very quickly."

Lupinacci and Sullivan both emphasize that Target Finder still exists on its own, and it got a similar upgrade to its interface as well. But incorporating its functionality into Portfolio Manager "will allow you to see energy use of a new building design and how this compares with median and target levels," says Sullivan. "You'll also be able to see graphs that compare design with measured values. This really provides a lot of value to both designers and facility managers."

Facility managers can easily use the tool to figure out whether assumptions made in the design process are bearing out in operations. And they can determine why particular loads are too high, and take corrective action.

"All this draws much more attention to how new buildings operate," says Lupinacci. "We want to reduce the gap, and this helps designers design buildings with aggressive energy targets, and then track those targets in operations."

Further Changes

While the calculation behind users' Energy Star scores won't change, the update to Portfolio Manager includes a few updates to some of the individual pieces of data that may influence some users' scores.

As one example, the new tool includes twice as many weather stations as the previous iterations, says Sullivan. This means that users will get more accurate weather data (heating and cooling degree days) from weather stations nearer their facilities. As other examples, how greenhouse gas emission and source energy are calculated have been slightly updated to reflect current practice.

Again, there is no action any user needs to take regarding these pieces of data. "All the calculations are updated automatically," says Sullivan. "And these updates are not unique to this upgrade. This happens regularly and changes to scores will be relatively small."

Larger changes may occur in the future when EPA updates the algorithm behind the Energy Star score to reflect more current market data. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is now in the process of surveying the U.S. building stock for an update to the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). Much of this data hasn't been updated since 2003. The surveys went out to building owners in April, and Lupinacci says she urges facility managers who get the survey to complete it and send it back.

Data collection is expected to continue through the rest of 2013. When the data has been collected and normalized, Lupinacci says, Energy Star will incorporate the new CBECS data into its score calculation. There's no timetable for this process, but a best guess is that EIA will release the new data by the end of 2014, says Sullivan.

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  posted on 7/8/2013   Article Use Policy

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