The Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) is a survey of commercial buildings in the United States, mandated by Congress to provide comprehensive information about energy use in commercial buildings. In addition to energy consumption and expenditure data, the survey collects information about building characteristics, such as energy source, physical structure, equipment used, and activities performed, which provides researchers with detailed information about commercial sector energy use and how it relates to building characteristics. The CBECS is the only national source of these data, and is used for energy forecasting, program development, and policy development.
At the request of the Energy Information Administration, the National Research Council is conducting a comprehensive 30-month study of the CBECS and the corresponding study of Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). Because plans for the upcoming 2011 round of CBECS must be finalized in the near future, the panel was charged to comment as soon as possible on design and data collection options that would enable the upcoming round of this survey to better support U.S. Department of Energy program information needs, reduce respondent burden, and increase the quality and timeliness of the data. This letter responds to that request, and is limited in scope to discussing issues that the panel believes are realistic to consider in the timeframe leading up to the 2011 data collection. At the conclusion of the study, the panel will deliver its comprehensive report on the overall design and conduct of both CBECS and RECS.