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Perfect Score: New Tool Makes Energy Efficiency Easy

PNNL's Building Energy Asset Score offers standardized efficiency evaluation

February 2016

You know those fuel economy stickers at car sales lots? What if there was an easy-to-understand energy rating to help you decide whether or not to buy or lease a building?

That's the vision behind the Building Energy Asset Score, which was released during an event at the White House in late January. The approach assigns commercial and multi-family buildings a score of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best possible efficiency given current technologies. Thus far, the tool has identified average potential savings of about 30 percent if upgrades recommended by the tool are made.

Researchers at PNNL designed the comprehensive, web-based tool to calculate scores in support of efforts by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to standardize the way building energy efficiency is evaluated, providing a way to comparison shop before buying or leasing a building.

"Energy use is a real, tangible cost associated with owning or leasing a building, but there are many different — and often confusing — methods to evaluate energy efficiency," said PNNL scientist Nora Wang, who led the tool's development. "The Building Energy Asset Score offers an easy, standardized way to better compare building energy efficiency."

Using the Tool

The Building Energy Asset Score requires user entry of just seven data points for rough efficiency assessments—using the Preview option—which takes just a few minutes. Users input:

  • Gross floor area
  • Address
  • Building type
  • Number of floors
  • Year of construction
  • Building orientation (facing north, south, etc.)
  • Year(s) of renovation(s)

Advanced algorithms developed by PNNL use this data to infer many building characteristics, such as heating and cooling system type and efficiency. Users receive the score range via email. The more advanced Building Energy Asset Score produces a specific score estimate. Submitting less information with Preview means the tool infers more information and the results are less exact.

The Building Energy Asset Score tool is built on top of another PNNL software, Facility Energy Decision System, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s OpenStudio. Using these as a foundation, PNNL researchers added new features to make the Building Energy Asset Score more comprehensive, streamlined and user-friendly.

Future Updates

A national network of DOE, leading companies, federal agencies, and state and local governments has been formed to expand the tool’s use and guide its future development. As part of that network, 16 organizations have each pledged to use the tool on 10 buildings and work with DOE to produce a case study of one facility.

Many new features will also be released soon, including the ability to assess:

  • Commercial kitchens
  • Buildings that use oil or propane for energy
  • Buildings with advanced heating and cooling systems and controls
  • Buildings powered by renewable energy or district heating

The Building Asset Score tool is online at For more information, watch Nora Wang describe this tool and other building energy efficiency technologies in a video.

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