In our work, we all find our preferred tools and we develop efficient (hopefully) ways to use them. Often that process identifies many tool features and analysis capabilities that an entire community of professionals can profitably use.  Please share your stories about the multifamily energy assessment tools that you use.  Tell the group what you like and don't like about these tools.  Also tell the group about the analysis capabilities that are needed and you would like to see made available.

Let's work together towards identifying the kinds of functionality that a multifamily energy assessment tool should ideally have.
Thanks.
Norm

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Multifamily efficiency analytical tools should be built  in modules to accomodate vast differences in building types and the split interests in efficiency investments - as well as all the other characteristics like size, shape, fuels, distributions, outside walls, etc etc.  If you then select the modules properly, the interactive/cumulative impacts of bundled measures can be quite accurately calculated.  The problem is we hasten to get our calculations (assumptions, algorithms, formulas) into a simulation program, in code, and give up the flexibility and customization required to easily provide investment-quality cost and savings calculations.  The key is, as always, really granular initial analytics of the energy status quo of the building, especially the most sophisticated comparative intensities and end-use profiles we can develop.  My multifamily software is an excel workbook with lots of tabs, and it can be set up for a whole new market in a day and for any particular building from a NYC high rise on steam to a suburban yuppie rental complex in about an hour.  It did take me 37 years to develop....

 

Tom

One "tool" that is pretty useful when working with a client that has numerous properties is to benchmark the buildings.  There are a couple online tools that allow you to put in some basic building information and utility bill information and then see how those properties are performing compared to each other.  This is especially helpful if the client isn't quite ready to commit to having all of their buildings audited.  You can pinpoint the worst performing ones and target them first. 

Norm,

Don't have any tools at the moment, but I am responding to this so I can get notices in the future from others posting to this Thread.

Always looking for new "tools" to analyze a property, especially if they are helpful in valuing the property, or the EE benefits to the property.

Along with another appraiser, I have developed several mathematical tools to analyze the reduction in energy costs from EE upgrades and forcast the increase in value that should occur. Right now, they pertain to SFRs, but I plan to adapt them to multifamily in the near furture.

RE: the post from Sean Shanley above. Sean, would you please post the URL for the tool that you describe in your post?

John C. Carlson

Diamond Bar, CA

909-861-6186

Everyone should make a go of PM (Portfolio Manager) for a variety of MF property types so we can start getting some consistency in benchmarking ('initial energy analytics'), at least.  In addition, since I started doing multifamily energy audits in the 1970's I have believed only trained engineers should be doing properties > 20 units, certainly any facility with a single central heating or HVAC system.  Multifamily expertise is not linear with residential energy auditing, it really much more sophisticated than what the BPI MF module (for example) provides.

 

Again, the best tools, in modules, should be assembled through traditional education / licensing organizations like technical schools or engineering-in-training or commercial-grade HVAC contractor organizations.  Lots of unions are developing this level of continuing education.

 

I am familiar with most MF software tools, contact me directly if you like, tom@energy-general.com.

 

Tom--My understanding is that Portfolio Manager isn't planning on having benchmarks for MF properties for several years at least.  Do you know otherwise?  In the meantime, there are several companies that provide benchmarks off of "real-time" data, which seems to me to be a bit more accurate than the way Portfolio Manager does them.  Of course, this comes with a cost, unlike Portfolio Manager. 

Yeah, the key benchmark analytics are some intensity numbers - no matter who's providing them.  PM works for generating comparative intensities (kbtu/ft2) which is all you need , internally at least.  HUD and PM and everybody else defers to those shaky intensities  available regionally from EIA.  As per my first post, you can readily adjust benchmark intensities for your market as you build your portfolio and keep checking against the national (EIA) standards.  You can set PM up for your customers as a campus and then use dormitories.

What kind of volume of MF work are you guys doing?

We have used HUD's energy benchmark tool on over 100 Wx buildings, and it's a reasonable place to start. It's not an analytical tool. But as a first cut, it may help focus your attention on dogs, and leave you less likely to waste your time on buildings that are doing about as well as can be expected. 

Get info and find links at:

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_ind...

It's most useful on buildings that are most like the typical HUD/PHA profile -- mid-rise, built in the 60s and 70s, master-metered for all energy use. The more "your" building varies from that profile, the more you can get pretty funky results. 

Beyond that, I do mostly Wx work, and DOE says we have to use TREAT or EA-QUIP. I know TREAT best, and it's generally pretty solid. There are some very particular blind spots -- you can't evaluate insulating ONLY the plumbing that's in the mechanical room or the attic, for example. Have to use a work-around for that.

Training on MF Blower Door Testing

I am doing a hands-on three day training, April 12 - 14, 2012 in Aurora, Illinois. It is intended to teach protocols for testing multifamily buildings, how to assess a building, to plan efficient testing, the mechanics of using all major available testing systems, and acquiring & analyzing data. While the focus will be on residential buildings, the techniques and analysis methods involved are directly applicable to all types of conditioned buildings of less than 2 million cubic feet in volume. Participants will attend two days of classroom training and one day of field work performing multiple tests in an apartment building. As a result of this training you will be able to identify the appropriate test protocols for building configurations, determine appropriate test mechanics based on building systems, analyze blower door data from test procedures, identify problems, understand infiltration theory and calculate energy loss.

 

Wabonsee Community College in Aurora is offering the course. Insight Property Services is doing all the legwork (Thanks, Joe!!) For more info, see http://insightpropertyservicesinc.com Or, e-mail me...

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