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NREL Launches Building Efficiency Software

Nov. 20, 2013
The Building Agent application allows facility managers to quickly diagnose and adjust for problems based on direct occupant comfort feedback.

The Building Agent (BA) application allows facility managers to quickly diagnose and adjust for problems based on direct occupant comfort feedback.

The application was created by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The software aims to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings by allowing occupants to interact with buildings more directly. Occupants are able to share feedback via the application dashboard on their desktop computers. According to NREL, 25% of a building’s energy performance is directly related to occupant behavior, making this capability a significant step toward helping buildings become more cost effective and energy efficient.

“This goes beyond the kinds of energy dashboards that facility managers might be familiar with,” says Larry Brackney, senior engineer at NREL. “By integrating comfort feedback with traditional measurements, BA ties the notions of comfort and energy performance together in a way that no other application has done.”

Additionally, the application provides aggregated data on electric energy, thermal energy, internal temperatures, humidity and lighting levels.

The BA tool has four key aspects: hardware, databases, visualizations, and applications. Based on both modeled and measured data, BA provides intuitive visualizations of energy use and comfort. These capabilities help facility managers and occupants understand the overall comfort and energy performance for an entire building. By presenting data in context to what the building or system should be doing at any given time, BA provides facility managers with the information needed to locate problems and make knowledge-based decisions quickly for improved building performance.

The savings potential of using BA will be seen in the reduction of annual energy use and peak demand. BA provides feedback on actual versus expected energy use for each building system, and during peak demand times, occupants can be urged to take direct actions, such as setting computers to hibernation mode before leaving for a meeting. BA enables an ongoing conversation between occupants, facility managers, and the building for sustained efficiency.

For more information visit NREL.

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