Virtual Energy Assessment Technologies Demonstration Pilot Project

The Smart Buildings Center (SBC), a project of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC), sponsored a virtual energy assessment demonstration project to test and evaluate a new breed of technologies and their effectiveness at enabling energy efficiency improvements in a mix of building sectors and scales. This inaugural project for the Smart Buildings Center was part of the Accelerated Technology Deployment (ATD) program, and was conceived as an opportunity to better understand the growing landscape of technologies with remote baseline and audit functions and evaluate their current and prospective role in the energy efficiency field.

The term ‘virtual energy assessment technologies’ represents a broad group of software or cloud-based platforms that serve a wide range of functions, including helping building owners collect and use energy data to better understand their buildings’ performance and identify opportunities for improvement, as well as easily track trends and report to a mix of stakeholders with diverse needs. These technologies are a rapidly growing industry and are seen as an increasingly viable strategy for helping building owners understand and pursue energy efficiency opportunities in both individual buildings and large portfolios. The Virtual Energy Assessment Tool ‘Quick Guide’ offers an overview of different entry points for how the functionality of these tools can provide value.

O’Brien & Company was selected to lead a dynamic team of subject matter experts in the design and implementation of the demonstration pilot project. The project scope included research of nearly 70 technologies, resulting in the selection of six technologies for 30-day deployments across 10 greater Seattle-area buildings and the study of two existing deployments. The team was tasked with developing marketing and recruitment materials to secure participation of both technology vendors and building owners and operators, and then strategically pairing technologies to appropriate buildings. In a rapid two month demonstration pilot, the team tested and evaluated the viability of the technologies and their results as compared to previous non-technology based efforts, using both qualitative and quantitative feedback from the data generated and participants involved. O’Brien & Company oversaw and contributed to the development of a suite of graphically rich materials conveying the findings.

Final project materials include:

Core to the project’s success was the development of a strategic pilot plan, a comprehensive framework for collecting and organizing data, tight project management controls, and above all, the interest and willingness of local building owners to participate in the project, demonstrating the region’s leadership in advancing the pursuit of energy efficiency.

O’Brien & Company went on to deliver project management support for the next phase of the ATD program, which involved deployment and evaluation of a broader set of energy efficiency technologies. Participation in both the VEAT and ATD projects demonstrates O’Brien & Company’s pursuit of increasing industry capacity and awareness of different approaches to improving the performance of our built environment. Our firm has since gone on to use some of the technologies included in the SBC demonstration pilots in subsequent projects.

Project Team Members

  • Catalyst 2030
  • EcoMentor
  • Blackburn Communications
  • Don Baker Design
  • Seattle 2030 District