Measuring Energy Efficiency

Updated: Mar 9

Measuring energy efficiency is hard.

The issue became a hot topic recently in California. California introduced the US’s first energy building codes in 1978, and they were projected to reduce residential energy use by 80 percent. But have they? As recently discussed on the popular Freakonomics podcast, Arik Levinson argues there is no evidence that they haveothers disagree. For a digestible overview of the challenges in measuring the impact of energy-efficiency measures, have a look here.

Regardless of the exact effect of California’s 1970s building codes, the controversy highlights the need to empirically validate energy efficiency measures. California just took a big step in the right direction with bill SB-350, which will, among other things, make measurement and verification a mandatory step for receiving incentive funds.

At Ecogate, we have understood the need for accurate data for a long time. That’s why we built automated data-collection capabilities into our state-of-the-art greenBOX Master controller. Among other things, the greenBOX knows exactly how much power each ventilation system is using at any given time. This lets us (and our customers!) analyze the power use every day down to the minute, which makes it easy to compare the system’s performance after Ecogate was put in to the performance prior to the Ecogate installation.


Fan power use before and after Ecogate was put in at Brentwood Corp. in Mollala, OR

Many Ecogate projects qualify for performance-based incentives. With these, the customer’s power company will often put in data loggers to measure power use details both before and after the Ecogate installation. Having gone through this many times since our founding in 1997, we now know with confidence that the numbers reported by the greenBOX Master are accurate.

These detailed post-installation analyses have also let us refine the models we use in calculating exactly the impact Ecogate will have on an existing dust collection system. As a result, our customers have a very good idea of how much electricity they will save before they even commit to buying the system.

At Ecogate, we believe that having the right information is key to making the right decisions. That’s why we make detailed data available directly to our customers through our analytics platform. Through the platform, our customers can monitor not only their electricity use, but also the air velocities in their duct system as well as workstation usage details.

Ecogate’s analytics platform shows workstation utilization details, among other data.

Recently, one of our customers mentioned that they wanted to increase production, and were planning on adding a third table saw to their facility towards that end. After looking over the data reported by the Ecogate system, however, it became clear that one of their existing machines was being underutilized – it was only on for 4% of shift time! With this key insight and a little bit of production optimization, the facility was able to increase their throughput without buying the new machine, saving them a significant amount of money by avoiding an unnecessary capital expense.

In conclusion, we at Ecogate understand the importance of data for our customers, for their power companies, as well as for legislative bodies. We’re excited that the state of California is mandating measuring the effects of energy efficiency technology in order to qualify for incentives, and we hope others follow suit. We have your data right here.

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