Mobile tablets and advanced modeling software will soon speed up the energy auditing process by replacing clipboards and pencils with mobile tablets.
Estimated to save 35-75% over traditional energy audits, the software, simuwatt Energy Auditor, guides users through the data-gathering process and stores the data as a baseline for future audits.
"The subsequent audit becomes verification, not a new discovery," explains Larry Brackney, senior engineer for the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which partnered with Denver-based developer concept3D to create the software.
The package marries multiple existing tools, including free resources like DOE's EnergyPlus (which models HVAC, lighting, and other energy flows) and NREL's OpenStudio (which offers detailed energy modeling).
This enables users to simulate the energy and cost impacts of retrofits that affect efficiency, from adding overhangs to windows to changing the building's hours of operation. It will be tested in 18 buildings across six Department of Defense sites, with a planned release for next year.
"At every step, we can assemble the information accountants want – replacement costs, how long bulbs will last, and other details," says Brackney. "Existing auditing processes aren't reliable or cheap enough for people to use them to get those answers, so they're not making investments to get to the next level of energy efficiency."