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Monitoring and analysis tools can identify operational problems and can lead to increases in building energy efficiency by up to 20%. Yet over $30 billion worth of consumed energy is wasted in commercial buildings by the lack of controls or the inability to use existing building automation systems properly. Most small- to medium-sized buildings do not have cost-effective access to commercial tools and algorithms that could pinpoint efficiency measures and underperforming equipment.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, with support from the US Department of Energy (DOE), has developed an open source data analysis and diagnostics platform that will provide standard methods for authoring, sharing, testing, using, and improving algorithms for operational building energy efficiency. The tool, named VOLTTRON™ Central, serves as an intelligent energy information system by allowing users to upload individual building data and use proven algorithms and diagnostics tools from DOE’s national laboratories to identify opportunities that, when corrected, can lower building energy use and increase operational efficiency.

What is VOLTTRON™ Central?

VOLTTRON™ Central is a “sandbox” tool that combines algorithms and diagnostics tools assessing building energy use. It provides users a low-risk opportunity to explore known, but not yet widely deployed building analysis applications for improving building operational efficiency. The software will demonstrate the benefits of these applications, helping users such as building managers, building owners, energy service providers and consultants in particular, to identify savings opportunities and improve building operations. VOLTTRON™ Central is meant to address a gap in enabling deployment of high impact algorithms to a broad set of users.

DOE wants to create a market pull for control system manufacturers and integrators that until now has not focused on the small- to medium-sized commercial buildings market. VOLTTRON™ Central will support this effort by validating state of the art analytical and diagnostic algorithms.

How does it work?

Users can upload building data to the VOLTTRON™ Central web-portal for analysis. Alternately, users can download a prepackaged executable desktop version. Once the data is uploaded and mapped to standard names that are predefined in the software, the user can invoke one or more analysis applications and generate useful actionable information. The results can be either visualizations in the form of graphs, figures, plots, or they can be tables that can be downloadable in CSV format.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Create user account.
  • Log into VOLTTRON™ Central.
  • Start a project.
  • Open the Data Management screen.
  • Select “Import Files.”
  • Pick files on their local hard drive then hit “upload.”
  • Once transfer is complete, go to the next step of mapping data to/against the common schema.
    • First step in the mapping process is figuring out the timestamp information.
  • Once the columns containing time information are identified, follow the guide through the process of selecting columns and mapping them to VOLTTRON™ objects derived from the common schema.


Kim W., R.G. Lutes, S. Katipamula, J.N. Haack, B.J. Carpenter, B.A. Akyol, K.E. Monson, C.H. Allwardt, T. Kang, and P. Sharma. 2015. OpenEIS: Users Guide. PNNL-24065, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA. (PDF 3,409KB)

Lutes, R.G., J.N. Haack, K.E. Monson, P. Sharma, C.C. Neubauer, B.J. Carpenter, C.H. Allwardt and B.A. Akyol. 2016. OpenEIS: Developer Guide. PNNL-65583, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA. (PDF 4,573KB)

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