DCAS Energy Data Lab

The Energy Data Lab (EDL) was launched in 2012 as a BPL project under sponsorship by the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services Energy Management division (DEM), with the goal of demonstrating how students of the City’s public university could play a useful role in the City’s energy management efforts. 

Originally called the Open Collaborative Lab, the initiative was renamed after the second year to reflect its special focus on energy data as it relates to a validated Measurement and Verification (M&V) program for DEM’s energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction activities in municipal buildings. Led by BPL Managing Director Honey Berk, the objectives of the EDL program include both direct programmatic contribution to DEM and development of student experiences that contribute to personal career development and the workforce as a whole.

EDL’s flexible and open-ended program design has grown to become a true “energy back office” for the City’s retrofit program. The EDL team has developed a robust dashboard for portfolio analysis and building comparison and visualization which helps the DEM assess the effectiveness of its energy investments. In FY2017 alone, the team used BEMA, the Building Energy Modeling and Analysis software tool that BPL has developed over the past few years, to generate baseline energy consumption models for 642 facilities.

In FY2018, the EDL team is using BEMA to develop statistically valid baseline models for additional portfolios of NYC municipal facilities, and is providing access to this information to DEM and client agencies through a web-based platform currently under developed.

CUNY BPL’s Energy Data Lab (EDL) develops, deploys, and administers a suite of tools that enable DEM and its partner agencies to meet their emissions reductions goals, streamline project planning and implementation, and comply with local law reporting requirements. EDL works closely with DEM’s Agency Planning & Implementation (API), Technical Services (TS), Capital Project Implementation, and Load Management teams by conducting pre- and post-project measurement and analysis, creating guidance documents and training materials, providing tools and technical assistance to agency personnel, and developing analytical tools and methodologies. EDL also works closely with DEM’s Business Systems team and Operations Unit leadership to develop, implement, and administer mission-critical performance management tools and platforms.

Agency M&V

In 2017, DEM tasked BPL with analyzing a number of energy retrofit projects completed during FY17. EDL analyzed energy consumption data at the whole facility level for these projects, and found that the data demonstrate reduced energy usage where energy retrofit projects were completed and operational for at least one year.

Moving forward, the team will be focusing heavily on retrofit isolation and whole facility M&V for a set of retrofit and retro-commissioning projects, to be selected from City-funded programs and the Department of Design and Construction.

The EDL Internship Program

Student interns gain experience in using and interpreting energy data for measurement and verification/documentation of energy savings — skills and methods that complement and supplement the classroom, with real-world application focused on energy efficiency.

Focusing on the specialized focus areas of Commissioning, Building Automation Systems, and Operator Perspectives, students receive expert advice and guidance from key BPL partners, including Texas A&M University’s Energy Systems Laboratory (TAMU ESL), KGS Buildings, Pacific Northwest National Labs, and Portland Energy Conservation Inc. EDL interns are exposed to the field of energy management and skills such as:

  • Utility bill data analysis
  • Measurement and verification of energy savings
  • Complex data analysis techniques – statistical models
  • Reading energy audits and retro-commissioning reports and understanding energy conservation
    measures and their impacts
  • Understanding HVAC, lighting and other building systems

A number of EDL interns also focus on developing skills in programming, with languages such as R, Python; and in data visualization, with applications like Tableau and Power BI. Program skills extend beyond the technical, with the understanding that communication and other skills areas are essential for learning and practice. To this end, interns also receive instruction and practical experience in:

  • Independent research
  • Oral and written communication
  • Formal presentation of work
  • Collaboration and sharing of information in a team-based context
  • Leadership skills
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