Author: Jessica Webster, CanmetENERGY
Publication Date: March, 2015
Link to External Website: http://geoscan.nrcan.gc.ca/starweb/geoscan/servlet.starweb?path=geoscan/fulle.web&search1=R=299224
Municipalities, utilities, and the public can use energy mapping to make informed decisions on energy end use and renewable supply options in the built environment. Integrated community energy mapping (ICEM) is an emerging mapping and modelling approach that leverages existing and new datasets and available building and technology energy modelling software in combination with geographic information systems (GIS) to provide scalable spatial decision support to energy and emissions planning, policy, and program development, and their implementation and verification. Applications include energy and emissions inventories for municipalities, utility conservation demand management and demand-side management program planning and identification of smart energy network opportunities.
Between 2008 and 2012, Natural Resources Canada led and supported ICEM research projects. It was observed that many of these projects faced similar data challenges.
This report outlines municipal and utility user needs for energy mapping, providing the basis for a detailed investigation of common technical barriers and knowledge gaps in working with ICEM data inputs. The datasets required to map and model baseline and future energy, emissions, and costs scenarios for the housing and building stock are explored.
Two case studies describe collaborative and data issues: the Integrated Energy Mapping for Ontario Communities (IEMOC) project and the Spatial Community Energy Carbon and Cost Characterization (SCEC3) model for Prince George, BC. For each dataset and distinct data integration activity, specific issues are described. Themes that emerge include access, structure, level of geography, and consistency. Importantly, the protection of personal and commercially sensitive information is not an issue but rather a prerequisite to be addressed for datasets individually and when integrated.
The data issues encountered in energy mapping projects to date are typically larger than can be tackled by individual proponents on a project basis. They are of concern because they translate into quality issues that impact the reliability, replicability, accuracy, and cost effectiveness of energy mapping initiatives and, by extension, the policy, planning and programs being designed, implemented and monitored. This paper aims to identify and describe the data issues so they may be resolved systematically by organizations working collaboratively to implement promising practices to advance community energy planning and utility conservation and infrastructure planning.
A number of best and promising practices for ICEM were used successfully in the IEMOC and SCEC3 projects to respond to data issues; a third case study, the Tract and Neighbourhood Data Modelling (TaNDM) project, offers new methods for data integration and aggregation. The best and promising practices cover the themes of collaboration, access, consistency, structure, and level of geography. Guidance from these three projects is augmented in this discussion with information from NRCan’s Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI).
Best organizational practices enabling data access for clearly defined purposes include commitment to collaboration and continuous improvement, conducting user needs assessments, developing use cases, defining scopes, and gathering data requirements. Data should be evaluated to determine sensitivities and shared to enable further research and development of authoritative and useful data products. Requirements around privacy and the commercial value of data must be respected and managed appropriately; privacy impact assessments, privacy protection principles, non-disclosure agreements, and data licenses are useful mechanisms.
Obtaining data closest to the source is another best practice that, although organizational in nature, will reduce project risk by accessing the most relevant and authoritative data. Seeking clarification on structural and consistency issues from data custodians is also recommended. Although not all datasets needed for energy mapping are yet accessible via open data, this best practice shows how governments can make administrative datasets more readily available.
Best practices to improve data consistency include developing authoritative parcel fabrics and civic addressing on a provincial basis, although this may be precluded in some jurisdictions for commercial reasons. Further best practice guidance is required on greenhouse gas emissions factors, capital costs, and the use of modelled energy data. All of these datasets and associated best practice guidance will provide a strong foundation for energy mapping when openly accessible in all jurisdictions.
Promising practices to improve consistency include assessing the data to determine its highest and best use for energy modelling and mapping, identifying standard building categories across collaborating organizations, and developing standard building information reports.
To tackle issues relating to level of geography, sharing data (under prescribed conditions as defined by non-disclosure agreements and/or data licenses) at the finest spatial resolution—at the level of the parcel, building, and energy meter — is recommended. Data integration at this scale is considered a promising practice as it enables the data integration to be done once; if maintained, this integrated dataset can serve multiple purposes. Linking all data to a unique numeric identifier, maintaining direct database/geodatabase linkages, and additional data tables to link building and unit attributes are promising practices for data matching, including for complex parcel-building-unit cases. Establishing a common method for municipalities to assign identification numbers and link parcel and building data for multi-unit residential buildings and other complex building types is also advised.
Data aggregation by building type or category to defined levels of geography and privacy thresholds are promising practices that generate robust energy and GHG emissions information by building type in a privacy-compliant manner. Energy use intensity and energy use per capita are key energy-related indicators that can be produced at various levels of geography through this approach.
In further ICEM research and development, to ensure the integrity and authoritativeness of data products as well as ensuring a positive stakeholder experience, it is important that quality assurance and quality control be performed at various stages in the ICEM development process. The Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure can provide numerous examples of best practices in other domains as well as data standards that can be leveraged by ICEM initiatives on a going-forward basis.
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