4 data tracking best practices from the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign

April 26, 2018

The Smart Energy Analytics Campaign, led by the U.S. Department of Energy, is working to speed the adoption of Energy Management and Information Systems (EMIS) and monitoring-based commissioning. The campaign aims to help companies learn how to better use available technologies to track and improve building energy performance. Participating companies pledge to share their implementation process and lessons learned at the one-year mark.

EMIS pull together data that has traditionally been stored in disparate systems, such as electricity meters, building automation systems, smart thermosets, and more, to create a robust picture of energy use. Facilities managers, sustainability leaders and other professionals can use this data to achieve a wide range of goals—if they know what data to watch.

In a recent webinar, campaign participants from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) explored the lessons they’ve learned through participating in the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign.

1. Set goals for how to turn insight into action

One of the leading challenges facing energy managers today is turning data into action. By organizing this information, energy and facility managers have at their fingertips the keys to improving processes. But this data is virtually useless without a plan in place that identifies desired improvements. By first setting goals for how to use available data, you’ll determine what data actually needs to be collected and ensure the EMIS system is providing its full value.

2. Establish your team

Collecting wide-ranging data that impacts campuses on multiple levels demands more than data. It takes a far-reaching team to put together a plan around which insights to watch. By including energy managers and analysts, facility managers, cyber-security, IT professionals and others, you’re better able to bring in all of the diverse data sets needed to help achieve your goals. Creating this team early also ensures buy-in and ownership of the process that can help drive goals forward.

3. Organize your data and your metadata

Metadata—those descriptions of the specific building systems being watched—should be labeled in a meaningful way to make use of the data being gathered. How will you use data from CHEMX.4SFC3.RM4475A.CCO? At a glance, it’s hard to tell. Too often this information, manually set up technicians, is labeled inconsistently. By updating automatically generated component IDs into a consistent system of names, data can be better managed. Once CHEMX.4SFC3.RM4475A.CCO is relabeled as AHU1, energy managers can begin to understand how this specific air handling unit’s data trends fit into the bigger picture.

4. Keep your data clean

Don’t expect to set up your tracking system and have everything run flawlessly at once. Data collection demands maintenance as well. Watch for potential failures between your devices and database. For example, if your meter isn’t installed correctly, the data may fall below the recordable threshold. Or a database firewall may prevent data transfer until that failure is updated in the database settings.

Interested in developing your own best practices? Join the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign at