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Tracking Energy Usage in a New Way

July 7, 2015 | 2 comments

Energy audits are a great way to assess building performance, identify potential areas of waste, and improve energy efficiency. But this process can take time, as well as require the involvement of energy-efficiency experts.

While energy audits can quickly identify low- and no-cost ways to save money and energy, energy modeling – using computer-based tools to simulate a building’s energy use during operation – is often necessary to take utility savings to the next level. This step can be expensive and time-consuming.

But a new collaborative project between the University of California, Berkeley; the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Baumann Consulting may change how energy audits are completed, which could save building owners and facilities managers time and money.

Worn as a backpack, a RAPMOD (Rapid Building Energy Modeler) system can scan the interior of a building using a variety of built-in sensors while the person wearing the backpack walks through rooms, halls, and staircases. Once the walk-through is complete, the RAPMOD system provides a 3D model of the building’s interior, along with visual representation of:

  • Thermal properties of windows, doors, and walls
  • Areas of moisture leakage
  • Plug-load wattage
  • HVAC system and ductwork locations
  • Electrical source locations
  • Heat from lighting, occupants, office equipment, windows, etc.

This information is automatically uploaded and imported into energy modeling software or an energy simulation tool. The result: A model of how much energy the building should actually be using. This data may help facilities managers quickly spot inefficiencies, such as leaky windows, areas of solar heat gain, and rooms that use space heaters or fans to improve thermal comfort.

And, as some commercial buildings professionals have pointed out, the RAPMOD may be useful in other applications as well. It may:

  • Reduce the need to physically measure a building and its interior rooms before renovation
  • Monitor progress of subcontractors
  • Help create accurate floor diagrams for emergency responders in disaster situations

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the RAPMOD is expected to cut the time it takes to create a building energy simulation model by at least 30%.

Have you recently conducted an energy audit? Would you use the RAPMOD system as an alternative to a traditional energy audit?


  1. Paige
    July 20, 2015

    This is a nice innovation for tracking energy usage. Thanks for sharing about it!

  2. leeshin
    September 30, 2015

    thank you for sharing such a useful post on energy audit

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