U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Use compatible formats for data sharing and reporting, and work with partners to implement standard data exchange protocols

Many Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners found that it was critically important to use compatible formats for data sharing and reporting with partners. Aligning data formats and collection plans with national data formats (e.g., Home Performance XML schema (HPXML), Standard Energy Efficiency Data platform (SEED), Building Energy Data Exchange (BEDES)) ensured compatibility for aggregation and reporting.

  • For Arizona Public Service’s (APS) Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program, a lack of transparency and access to data meant it took hours each month to compile progress reports. Coordination with trade allies was difficult for similar reasons–both the utility and its contractors lacked visibility into project status and task assignment, as well as the ability to identify program bottlenecks, which impacted APS customer service. Program delivery metrics, from administrative overhead to customer and trade ally satisfaction, were lower than expected. APS then began the search for a more dynamic software platform to engage customers, track and manage projects, empower trade allies, and analyze and report results. The program needed HPXML, an open standard that enables different software tools to easily share home performance data. The new HPXML-compliant platform, EnergySavvy’s Optix Manage, resulted in higher cost effectiveness and greater satisfaction for the program, including 50% less administrative time to review and approve projects, a 66% reduction in data processing time for APS reporting, 31% less contractor administrative time to submit projects, and a three-fold increase in trade ally satisfaction.  HPXML also had the added benefit that contractors can choose their own modeling software.
  • The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) heard from home performance contractors and other stakeholders that a more streamlined data collection process was needed to reduce the paperwork burden and time spent on a per project basis. In response, the program launched the NY Home Performance Portal in July 2013. This web-based interface made it easier for customers to choose and apply for the home performance program and made the application process for a home energy assessment clear, fast, and simple. In 2015, NYSERDA further refined their data collection process and began processing of all projects in a web-enabled interface designed to facilitate program coordination. This new platform allowed NYSERDA to automate project approvals for 85-90% of projects. In addition, the platform supported HPXML which facilitates data sharing among multiple New York programs, thereby reducing the administrative burden for contractors participating in multiple programs. It allowed NYSERDA to automate the work scope approval process through validation of standardized data. An additional benefit of HPXML for NYSERDA was creating an open modeling software market.
  • Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MassDOER) provides statewide oversight to energy efficient programs administered by utilities under the Mass Save brand. Originally, contractors from Conservation Services Group, Inc. and Honeywell International Inc. used audit software customized for the program in their home energy assessments.  When MassSave piloted the Home MPG program, contractors were also required to generate an Energy Performance Scorecard for each home. The existing audit software, however, did not have this capability. To address this problem, software developers added the Energy Performance Scorecard capability, so the contractors could use the same software to record the audit results and generate the energy performance scorecard. Despite implementation delays, this solution allows the use of the Energy Performance Scorecards to potentially expand to statewide.
See all tips from these handbooks:

Develop evidence-based insights into your program’s performance through third-party process and impact evaluations. Learn how to develop effective data collection strategies and timely evaluations to identify important program achievements as well as opportunities for making program improvements.

Identify the right questions to ask, appropriate metrics to collect, and the processes needed to initiate third-party impact and process evaluations.

Identify and implement systems and tools that will support data collection and data quality necessary for effective evaluation.

Manage third-party impact and process evaluation activities by coordinating with evaluators, transferring data, and overseeing evaluation deliverables.