In 2018 the RTF mounted a concerted effort to increase emphasis on whole building energy efficiency. As energy efficiency programs seek deeper savings, they are exploring approaches that focus on the energy use of the building as a whole, rather than taking an end use by end use approach. In January 2018, the RTF discussed the results of a scoping exercise during which regional stakeholders were interviewed regarding their needs in the whole building energy efficiency space. This project also compared existing national guidance documents on estimating savings from a whole building approach to understand what is currently being addressed. Through this effort, the RTF identified some gaps in these existing guidance documents, particularly around estimating the costs and lifetimes of whole building program approaches. The RTF directed staff to continue to explore this space, focusing on areas lacking guidance and engaging in other efforts to provide clarity where needed.
The RTF is exploring potential paths for providing additional guidance around non-UES type programs, starting with industrial SEM. The goal of this work is to explore a potential approach for the RTF to provide direction in support of consistent and reliable energy savings estimates for custom projects and address specific challenges to consistent and reliable savings estimation by focusing on specific measure types. Staff opted to start with Industrial SEM because they received a new measure proposal from a utility stakeholder.
So, at the July RTF meeting the group adopted a guidance document that is intended to supplement the RTF Guidelines by providing guidance specifically relevant to the evaluated program-level savings, costs, benefits and lifetimes of measures implemented by industrial Strategic Energy Management (SEM) programs. SEM is a collection of organizational practices, policies and processes intended to result in implementation of efficiency measures. Some programs target O&M while others pursue both capital and O&M measures. The guidance document lays out what is needed for evaluated savings claims to be consistent with other measures included in the Power Plan. It also provides some guidance on the level of effort and which important questions may be impractical to resolve empirically. The document is not intended to be a duplication of evaluation guidance like those from IPMVP or BPA or to offer requirements for site-level savings values used in program engagement contexts.
The ultimate goal of this work is to expand this type of product for other custom projects, so stay tuned for more efforts coming.
Industrial SEM Guidance Document (Approved July 2021, Review Date 2024)
Commercial Whole Buildings
In May 2019 the RTF adopted a white paper surveying the reliability of savings estimates based on data-driven models of commercial building-level energy consumption. This process built on the work started last year and was brought through the Whole Building Subcommittee prior to being seen by the RTF. This paper summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding reliability of savings estimates based on data-driven models of commercial building-level energy consumption. Findings and recommendations presented in the Executive Summary were formally endorsed by the RTF on May 21, 2019. The paper is intended to support current and future efforts to set research priorities and develop guidance where needed. Presentations from both meetings are linked below as well as the final approved white paper.
"Energy Savings Estimates Based on Commercial Whole Building Data" White Paper (Final Version)
Commercial Whole Building Evaluation Tools
Commercial Whole Building Evaluation Tools
As a first step in exploring this whole building effort, the RTF contract analysts started to explore the value that models have in estimating energy savings for whole buildings, with a focus on what aspects of those models require greater scrutiny going forward. The following are materials produced from those efforts:
- SEM and Whole Building Performance--Summary of Survey Responses (November 2017)
- SEM and Whole Building Performance--Comparison of Evaluation Methodologies (December 2017)
- Life Beyond the UES (Presentation at January 2018 RTF Meeting)