Generation and Representation of Synthetic Smart Meter Data

Tianzhen Hong, Daniel Macumber, Han Li, Katherine Fleming, Zhe Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus Citations


Advanced energy algorithms running at big-data scale will be necessary to identify, realize, and verify energy savings to meet government and utility goals of building energy efficiency. Any algorithm must be well characterized and validated before it is trusted to run at these scales. Smart meter data from real buildings will ultimately be required for the development, testing, and validation of these energy algorithms and processes. However, for initial development and testing, smart meter data are difficult to work with due to privacy restrictions, noise from unknown sources, data accessibility, and other concerns which can complicate algorithm development and validation. This study describes a new methodology to generate synthetic smart meter data of electricity use in buildings using detailed building energy modeling, which aims to capture the variability and stochastics of real energy use in buildings. The methodology can create datasets tailored to represent specific scenarios with known truth and controllable amounts of synthetic noise. Knowledge of ground truth also allows the development and validation of enhanced processes which leverage building metadata, such as building type or size (floor area), in addition to smart meter data. The methodology described in this paper includes the key influencing factors of real-world building energy use including weather data, occupant-driven loads, building operation and maintenance practices, and special events. Data formats to support workflows leveraging both synthetic meter data and associated metadata are proposed and discussed. Finally, example use cases of the synthetic meter data are described to illustrate potential applications.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1205-1220
Number of pages16
JournalBuilding Simulation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Tsinghua Press.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-77275


  • building energy modeling
  • data representation
  • EnergyPlus
  • occupant modeling
  • smart meter data
  • synthetic data


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