Information and Monitoring Diagnostics System R&D

On this page you'll find the objective and approach for the U.S. Department of Energy's information and monitoring diagnostics system research and development project and a link to more information.

Project Collaborators

California Institute for Energy Efficiency (CIEE), California Energy Commission (CEC), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California at San Diego, Stanford University, and Supersymmetry


CIEE has organized a multi-institutional research and development team to develop and field test an improved building diagnostic system. Current building energy management and control systems provide building owners and operators with limited technical capability to measure the performance of building energy systems, diagnose operations and maintenance problems, and identify longer-term and cost-effective energy saving opportunities. Credible documentation of the long-term energy- and cost-saving benefits of advanced sensors is needed, as well as an information management infrastructure capable of clearly indicating where changes are needed most and providing credible cost/benefit analyses for decision making. Improved diagnostic systems have the potential to provide these capabilities plus an improved indoor environment, increased tenant satisfaction, and reduced maintenance and energy operating costs, benefits which in turn provide building owners with a competitive advantage in attracting tenants.

One objective of this project is to develop and apply state-of-the-art continuous building performance measurement techniques with supporting information processing and data visualization technologies. These technologies will diagnose problems and provide owners and managers with reliable, decision-oriented information. The project goal is to assist owners and operators in reducing energy use and costs by as much as one-third through improved O&M practices and implementation of cost-effective investments in improved building energy systems. Another long-term objective is to establish a broad information database to enable owners, architects, engineers, and energy service companies to improve their building energy performance by comparing it to the "best" buildings with similar characteristics.


A pilot demonstration of the Information and Monitoring Diagnostics System (IMDS) was installed in 1998 in a San Francisco office building. The IMDS includes 56 sensors, 34 calculated fields, computer-based communications, data archival and retrieval capabilities, diagnostic information processing, data visualization, and other components. The system implements a top-down diagnostic approach at three levels. Level 1 diagnoses whole-building performance and compares the subject building to other buildings with similar energy services. Level 2 examines major end-use systems, and Level 3 focuses on major subsystems.

A preliminary analysis of the first four months of data has already revealed low-cost and no-cost HVAC O&M energy saving opportunities equivalent to almost 10% of whole-building annual electricity usage. The team is continuing to work with operations staff at this pilot site to document actual savings achieved with data from the IMDS. In addition, a second generation IMDS system is being installed in a Sacramento office building. You can access additional information on these demonstration projects.