Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Turbo-Charged" New Energy Star Finds Some Rough Road

Written by Chris Liston.

Two months after ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager received an ambitious upgrade, users are still struggling through programming glitches in what the EPA has described as a “turbo-charged” new tool.

ENERGY STAR is a free tool administered by the EPA, which reports more than 40,000 individual accounts for more than 250,000 commercial buildings.  ENERGY STAR is frequently used by LEED project owners to report whole-building energy and water data to the USGBC and the tool plays a key prerequisite role within the LEED EB rating system.

The June upgrade was intended to modernize a database architecture that was first introduced in 2000.  The new site was promised to be faster, more intuitive and more user-friendly – with data entry “wizards” and easier-to-generate reports.  User data would be seamlessly transitioned to the new tool and there would be no changes to the algorithm used to calculate the actual ratings.

When the ENERGY STAR website was re-launched in July 2013, following several weeks of downtime, the site was essentially crippled by programming glitches.  By late-September the EPA had addressed nearly 30 programming issues and acknowledged a half dozen other issues that still need to be corrected.  The EPA has also acknowledged that some users are missing data and these users have been assured that the data will eventually be restored.

The ENERGY STAR update has been particularly challenging for those with large portfolios due to changes in “sharing permissions” and automated benchmarking services (ABS.)  In large portfolios (e.g. a retail chain with 100+ locations) ABS providers download energy data from utility companies and upload that data into ENERGY STAR.

Two months after the launch the new ENERGY STAR website is functional, though arguably not yet “turbo-charged.”

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