No other commercially available product has the ability to collect building data onsite, automatically move the data into an analysis tool, and perform a detailed energy simulation with the speed and consistency of simuwatt Energy Auditor. "With most audits, you're not quite sure what you're getting - you can get a big range," Brackney said. "With simuwatt Energy Auditor, you get the same numbers every time." And ESCO engineers can quickly train their junior engineers to use the tool.
Instead of hiring one person to do the audit and another one to, say, assess the strength of the roof for the loading of solar panels, with simuwatt Energy Auditor, the same person doing the audit can assess the value of the photovoltaic modules. And huge computers aren't needed to analyze the data, because while it can be analyzed locally, it also can be sent out to the cloud. "Cloud computing changes the game for running energy models and accessing data from any device, at a lower cost," Davis said.
Beyond the "Low-Hanging Fruit"
The first tests of simuwatt Energy Auditor will be completed at six
- Navy Support Activity in
simuwatt Energy Auditor's built-in reporting mechanisms and assumptions provide much more useful information to decision makers, said Parker. Often, an audit will report that, say, lowering lighting density will save so many dollars. But a building owner needs to know what assumptions were made, how the costs break down, and how this will impact the operations of the building. Without that information, an energy audit can seem useless to building managers. "At every step, we can assemble the information that the accountants want to know - replacement costs, how long the bulbs will last, every detail," Brackney said.
Brackney noted that when it comes to energy retrofits, "all the low-hanging fruit has largely been plucked. Everyone has changed the light bulbs, the air filters. What's left to do is pretty capital intensive."
That means due diligence is essential - both to satisfy the building owners and to convince lenders, who must know the precise payback in energy savings on the loan. "Existing auditing processes aren't reliable enough or cheap enough for people to use them to get those answers," Brackney said. "So, they're not making investments to get to that next level of energy efficiency."
NREL, concept3D, and industry partners will test the potential savings from the tool by auditing 18 buildings at six
Simplicity and Consistency Spur Ardent Interest from ESCOs
Interest is strong from ESCOs and other private-sector auditors eager to test simuwatt Energy Auditor. "Over the next six to eight months, we'll get a pretty good collection of actual data to compare with pre-existing audits, or conventional audits we do in parallel," Brackney said.
"The consistency of the measures is so important," Parker said. "Whoever creates a measure has to understand engineering, but once that's done, anyone can come in with any model, drag it in, and get reasonable results."
"It becomes very consistent and very simple," Brackney said.
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