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Catalyzed by recent market, technology, and policy trends, energy data collection in the building industry is becoming more widespread. This wealth of information allows more data-driven decision-making by designers, commissioning agents, facilities staff, and energy service providers during the course of building design, operation and retrofit. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Performance Database (BPD) has taken advantage of this wealth of building asset- and energy-related data by collecting, cleansing, and standardizing data from across the U.S. on over 870,00 buildings, and is designed to support building benchmarking, energy efficiency project design, and buildings-related policy development with real-world data. This article explores the promises and perils energy professionals are faced with when leveraging such tools, presenting example analyses for commercial and residential buildings, highlighting potential issues, and discussing solutions and best practices that will enable designers, operators and commissioning agents to make the most of ‘big data’ resources such as the BPD.