DOE Launches Building Energy Database — but why?

The US DOE has announced the creation of a Building Performance Database (BPD) with energy data for some 60,000 residential and commercial buildings across the U.S.  Presumably data for more buildings will be added as it becomes available.

But what is the purpose of said database?  Data included are not gathered randomly nor with any schema that will guarantee they are representative of any particular class of buildings.  Essentially any data submitted to the database are included so long as the data satisfy some specified criteria and cover a period of 12-consecutive months.  For some buildings data might correspond to 2003 and for others 2012 — with no distinction.

I have energy data for an Oberlin College building for 12 consecutive years — with site EUI ranging from 30 to 55 kBtu/sf/yr.  For which year shall I submit the data?  The idea that energy consumption for a building is determined by one 12-month period is silly.  And what is the usefulness of a query to this database that returns energy data for buildings for different time periods?

What interesting questions can be answered by query to such a database?  In this case having incomplete information is actually worse than having no information.  If you have no information you at least understand the limitation.  But having some building energy data without any information regarding its context is worse — leads you to believe you know something when you don’t.

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