Virtual Audits: The Promise and the Reality

John M. Avina President,
 Steve P. Rottmayer, Senior Energy Engineer
Abraxas Energy Consulting

A good energy audit can be a valuable guide to making the best building energy efficiency investment decisions. When the best energy conservation measures (ECMs) are identified and implemented, the facility owner will have made the smartest choices, and will receive the greatest return on investment. When the best ECMs have not been identified and implemented, then the opportunity for reducing utility costs will have been squandered, and the facility owner will suffer financially as a result. Generally, the more seasoned and skilled the energy auditor, the better the energy audit. With the advent of advanced databases and the availability of electricity interval data, new software and services are now available that provide some impressive analysis of building energy usage. One of these new services, virtual audits, offers inexpensive energy audits, an attractive online presentation, and the capability to provide fast analysis of individual buildings as well as building portfolios, all without an energy auditor having to set foot on site. The question addressed in this paper is whether these companies that provide virtual audits are making claims that are unsupported. The main claim is that a virtual audit can produce a valuable and actionable energy audit, at low cost, without having an energy auditor set foot on site. This column endeavors to evaluate these potentially overreaching claims