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Research Renaissance: How can we leverage data collection standards?

L_Steele-smallEnergy efficiency research and accompanying data collection efforts continue to increase in volume and complexity. However, different data collection formats using different methodologies make it difficult to combine data to produce more comprehensive samples at the nationwide or regional level. There are several compelling uses of data gathered according to established standards. This combined data could validate existing load shapes and savings estimates. The data could also inform energy efficiency program design and develop new energy efficiency implementation strategies.

Various groups recently developed data collection protocols in an effort to develop more robust data sets that can be used for analyses beyond the original study. The Uniform Methods Project and the Building Performance Database (both funded by the DOE) provide key national standards that address methodology and building information. Other evaluation standards include the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocols (IPMVP) and the California Evaluation Protocols. The Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership is also in the process of establishing data collection protocols. However, these protocols alone will not dramatically shift program evaluation. It will take experienced evaluators and innovative programmers to realize the potential of data collection protocols. DNV GL sees the proper administration and interaction of various protocols for data gathering, benchmarking, and energy simulations as the next frontier in our industry.

dataWhat new approaches and study designs will researchers develop to leverage the data created using these new standards and protocols?  Future research could supplement past studies with small sample sizes instead of conducting entirely new research. While this has obvious cost and time saving benefits, the ultimate benefit is the ability for data collected from multiple studies to feed into new load shape studies, deemed savings assumptions, and technical reference manual updates. As such, the higher the scale at which data collection protocols are developed and adhered to, the greater the opportunity to leverage those efforts.

DNV GL has developed an iPad based data collection tool> that facilitates adherence to data collection protocols and can easily be adapted to the needs of each client and project. This tool has recently been implemented on projects for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); it was originally piloted in 2011 on an Xcel Energy baseline study. The tool has expedited data collection and greatly reduced required time in the field. Standardized data collection also fundamentally requires less quality control checks (QC) to be analysis ready. Contact us to find out how our clients are benefiting from our implementation of these data collection protocols.

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