Does anyone have experience using TREAT? Is it an effective approach to dealing with multi-family units?

Tags: Energy, Multi-family, TREAT, audit, audits, software

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The city of Seattle uses TREAT in its WAP program, and they are advertising for an auditor. I found it on the web and they offer a 30-day free usage package. I was hoping to hear from folks who may have used it or know of its ins-and-outs. I suspect it takes data in from on-site assessment and then projects savings based on local weather data, cost of energy, cost of upgrades, ROI etc. I hope to hear from an experienced user about how it might compare to other software programs, how accurate it is, what troubles you may have encountered and how well it works. Thank you in advance for your reflections.

I used TREAT extensively for single-family residential for 10 years.  I can't comment on its multi-family capabilities, but I imagine it's similar.

TREAT is not intuitive.  Personally I like a graphical interface, but TREAT requires you to keep all the surfaces straight in your head, as well as what they're adjacent to.  It can be maddening to run the Model Inspector and have it tell you what you did wrong, but not where.

I believe it derives its accuracy based on the user's inputs.  It's not inherently accurate.  I made models say what I needed them to say all the time.  Truing up the model to actual energy use will give you at least a "fair" degree of accuracy, and I felt I got "good" models once they were trued up.  My best tip for truing up a model: choose a different weather station.  I'd get usage for a project, make a model, feel decent about all the surfaces, run the Inspector, see how far off I was in terms of actual usage, and then start choosing different weather stations until I got where I needed to be.

But generally I find TREAT to be a PITA.  That doesn't change the fact that sometimes you just have to use it.  I did once bang out 11 models in an hour, but those were obviously not very good models LOL.

I do like TREAT for helping to size heating equipment.  One of the reports it can run gives you something akin to a Manual J.  Again, I was doing single-family, and not any room-by-room stuff.

Thank you for the input, Blake. I have used other models, but never TREAT. The true-up sounds like a major tweak and if you have to adjust the weather data, it may not be ideal. In multi-family, I would think the weather data to be less critical for accuracy than the condition, age of the structure, neighbors and management, so it's probably just a justification based on what you say about it. Especially the PITA comment. Right on!

I'm not a big fan of TREAT.  The biggest issue is that you have to true up the model to within 5% of the utility bill. A great idea except that, from my experience at least, the true up is just a random tweak here and there to make it work. No attempt to do this true-up in an intelligent way ever proved workable.

Thank you Scott for your experienced reflection on the downsides of the program. I missed out on getting the position, but it was quite a learning experience for me just preparing for the chance to land the gig. Not worth sweating it, now that the software is shown to be a failing attempt to describe operating efficiency versions in different zones. Thanks again for the comments. 

We use Treat in NY. There is a long learning curve, and like any tool it has serious flaws that you will not understand without tracking outcomes to see inconsistencies.

For example, treat thinks oversized equipment saves energy where we have found just the opposite to be true. Part of our design strategy is to size equipment with the goal of never shutting off, and that seems to deliver significant savings unrecognizable by TREAT.

Thanks for the input Ted. Your comment regarding steady equipment usage is particularly accurate when considering mini-split heat pumps for heating and cooling and dehumidification. Except for cycling, my mini-split is quite effective at constantly operating and maintaining comfort in my 670 sq. ft. rambler in Seattle. It's only 18,000 output btu/hr but handles the job well. It's an all electric home with $50 a month utility bills annualized. I have yet to replace my knob-and-tube with romex and then install sidewall insulation.

The multi-family auditing job with Seattle did not pan out for me, and they did not ask a single question about TREAT in the interview, but at least I have some experience with doing audits (5,000 of them) and using EPS software to predict outcomes in savings per measure.

Sorry to stumble on this so Late. I used TREAT for about 6 years. I even worked with it's creators and the current programming house that is updating and selling it.  

I used it for Multi family. It was one of the program required software. It works as good as your inputs.  There are a bunch of measures it cannot handle. If you are looking at envelope, lighting, EnergyStar appliances, heating system improvements, and simple measure interactions. There is some homework to do outside the program for most of those measures. 

As a critical eye, it is a degree day based program. It uses actual weather data. Run times are less than most of the TMY calculations. Inputs are simple, calculations and savings are basic. It doesn't replace your whole toolbox but it has it's place.

Thanks Mick for the response. I already had my interview with Seattle's WAP program and did not get the job (good pay and great benefits), but I was as ready as I could have been without actual TREAT experience, having done quite a few BPI audits using EPS scoring, blower door testing, IR camera/digital camera details and predicted savings and outcomes based on weather data, costs of upgrades, size of job and other variables.

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