The U.S. building stock consists of 5.6 million commercial buildings covering over 87 billion square feet and consuming nearly one-fifth of all U.S. energy according to the Department of Energy’s Buildings Energy Data Book. Aggressive federal, state and local energy efficiency goals have created a dramatic need to assess and improve these buildings at a rapid rate. This has resulted in the building efficiency market growing to $60 billion in 2014. A 43% increase over 4 years according to Navigant Research. For energy engineering service providers to meet market demand and scale, the process of building data collection and analysis must be streamlined beyond current antiquated methods.
Energy audits today consist of the laborious process of gathering building information from many disparate sources, collating this information, analyzing energy efficiency measures, and reporting these in an effective way to the building owner. The data collection steps leading up to analysis are riddled with costly inefficiencies:
- Lack of a standardized approach across an organization results in costs in communication of building information between employees involved on a project, and potential errors downstream in the resulting report to the building owner.
- Time consuming organization of data from pen and paper notes, drawings, schedules, and dozens of photographs results in both an internal cost as well as an opportunity loss for new business.
- Transcription of data into analysis solutions is another time consuming step that creates further potential for error in the resulting analysis.
Cloud-based software solutions along with supporting tablet and desktop computing devices can streamline these processes, close the costly gaps along the way, and aid in preventing erroneous results provided to the building owner. A standardized software approach allows energy auditors to consistently gather and organize information on the fly. The collaborative nature of the cloud creates opportunities to manage a living data set about a building throughout the life of the audit whether information is entered before a site visit, as a team in the field, or afterwards when filling in the gaps with cut sheets. Software also creates opportunities to access and reuse this data in varying analysis solutions, later implementation stages, and project tracking systems.
Based on current energy efficiency market trends, energy engineering service providers have an opportunity to scale their businesses to meet market demand. Those who utilize software to streamline inefficiencies in antiquated approaches will be far more successful.