Using Dashboards to Improve Energy and Comfort in Federal Buildings

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Federal agencies are taking many steps to improve the sustainability of their operations, including improving the energy efficiency of their buildings, promoting recycling and reuse of materials, encouraging carpooling and alternative transit schemes, and installing low flow water fixture units are just a few of the common examples. However, an often overlooked means of energy savings is to provide feedback to building users about their energy use through information dashboards connected to a building's energy information system.An Energy Information System (EIS), broadly defined, is a package of performance monitoring software, data acquisition hardware, and communication systems that is used to collect, store, analyze, and display energy information. At a minimum, the EIS provides the whole-building energy-use information (Granderson 2009a). We define a "dashboard" as a display and visualization tool that utilizes the EIS data and technology to provide critical information to users. This information can lead to actions resulting in energy savings, comfort improvements, efficient operations, and more. The tools to report analyzed information have existed in the information technology as business intelligence (Few 2006). The dashboard is distinguished from the EIS as a whole, which includes additional hardware and software components to collect and storage data, and analysis for resources and energy management (Granderson 2009b). EIS can be used for a variety of uses, including benchmarking, base-lining, anomaly detection, off-hours energy use evaluation, load shape optimization, energy rate analysis, retrofit and retro-commissioning savings (Granderson 2009a). The use of these EIS features depends on the specific users. For example, federal and other building managers may use anomaly detection to identify energy waste in a specific building, or to benchmark energy use in similar buildings to identify energy saving potential and reduce operational cost. There are several vendors of EIS technology that provide information on energy and other environmental variables in buildings.

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