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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Building energy information systems: synthesis of costs, savings, and best-practice uses


Building energy information systems (EIS) are a powerful customer-facing monitoring and analytical technology that can enable up to 20 % site energy savings for buildings. Few technologies are as heavily marketed, but in spite of their potential, EIS remain an underadopted emerging technology. One reason is the lack of information on purchase costs and associated energy savings. While insightful, the growing body of individual case studies has not provided industry the information needed to establish the business case for investment. Vastly different energy and economic metrics prevent generalizable conclusions. This paper addresses three common questions concerning EIS use: what are the costs, what have users saved, and which best practices drive deeper savings? We present a large-scale assessment of the value proposition for EIS use based on data from over two-dozen organizations. Participants achieved year-over-year median site and portfolio savings of 17 and 8 %, respectively; they reported that this performance would not have been possible without the EIS. The median 5-year cost of EIS software ownership (up-front and ongoing costs) was calculated to be $1800 per monitoring point (kilowatt meter points were most common), with a median portfolio-wide implementation size of approximately 200 points. In this paper, we present an analysis of the relationship between key implementation factors and achieved energy reductions. Extent of efficiency projects, building energy performance prior to EIS installation, depth of metering, and duration of EIS were strongly correlated with greater savings. We also identify the best practices use of EIS associated with greater energy savings.

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