Most commercial buildings have little or no easy-to-access energy performance feedback data. New Buildings Institute has drawn on its broad field experience and a deep well of building data to develop software to solve this problem.
FirstView is NBI’s web-based tool that provides advanced benchmarking and remote auditing for commercial buildings, including multifamily. The software takes in basic building data and one year’s energy usage and uses multivariable regression analysis to come up with a physical simulation model of the building. The outputs are simple, but powerful: we can disaggregate end uses (heating, cooling, electric baseload, and gas/steam baseload), we can provide diagnostic recommendations for those end-use categories, and we can compare a building’s energy performance to benchmark values or to previous years’ performance. This means we can go beyond basic EUI comparisons to help building owners and managers prioritize energy audit efforts and focus on the best retrofit opportunities.
Multifamily buildings, and especially affordable multifamily buildings, are often in need of energy retrofits. But unlocking that potential can be difficult. FirstView software helps fill this very real gap, and NBI is working with a major national foundation to upgrade the software specifically for affordable multifamily buildings. We’re improving the user interface of the web tool, adding diagnostic capabilities and new features, improving the calculation engine behind the scenes, and adding more depth to our database of comparison buildings.
NBI is looking for partners in this effort. There are two ways you can be involved: NBI is looking for building data sources and organizations interested in piloting the new, improved tool.
- We are looking for building data* to expand our dataset of comparison buildings. We need to track down data on affordable multifamily buildings to build up the peer building dataset behind the diagnostics. Data will remain anonymous (we take privacy and information security seriously.)
- We are looking for building owners and organizations that would like to pilot test the tool. Pilot testers will receive free access to the tool during the pilot period.
- We are interested in finding additional users of the new, improved FirstView software tool in this sector, and we will offer subsidized analysis for affordable multifamily buildings and portfolios once we have finished this development project.
Are you or your organization interested in partnering with us on this important project? Do you know of someone who might be interested? If so, please contact Alexi Miller.
*Here’s the data we need for buildings to add them to the anonymized comparison building database:
- Energy usage data: 12 months of whole-building monthly energy usage data (electric, gas, and other fuels)
- Sometimes true whole-building data is hard to get in multifamily buildings. If a representative sample has been obtained, we can use extrapolated data based on a subset of units within the building.
- Fuel oil: Generally monthly data is not available. Delivery information will do.
- Building size (gross conditioned square feet)
- Building type (affordable vs market-rate multifamily, mixed use, etc.
- For mixed-use buildings we will want to know how much of the building is residential versus nonresidential. It’s also helpful to know what the nonresidential portion is (restaurant, offices, retail…).
- Building location (zip code or city is enough, though address is fine too)
- Building vintage or year of last major renovation (optional)
- Occupancy rate – especially important if a large portion of the building (e.g., above 20%) is vacant (optional)