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.

At the first meeting of the panel on February 1-2, 2010, EIA staff discussed preparations for the 2011 CBECS and indicated that work will begin on the 2011 CBECS sample design in the summer of 2010. Thus, any changes to this round of the data collection would have to be evaluated before then. EIA staff also informed the panel that the 2011 CBECS is anticipated to have more funding than it has had in the past. The panel also learned in those discussions that EIA has relatively little empirical data on how well the current design and procedures are working in comparison with approaches that have been tried in the past and that EIA has not conducted an analysis of options considered but not pursued. Based on the factors described above, the panel’s overarching recommendation is to invest some of the currently available additional funding in research that will enable EIA to make future decisions based on empirical evidence about what is most likely to improve geographic coverage, data quality and relevance, while controlling costs. The panel’s specific recommendations for research as part of the 2011 CBECS are described below.

BACKGROUND ON THE CBECS

The 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.

The survey collects information from a sample of commercial build-



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