ECAM Frequently Asked Questions

Here is some specialized information that will help you do more, faster with ECAM. If you want to download ECAM go to the ECAM page. If you still need help you can contact Michael Baker. Special thanks to Eva Urbatsch for helping compile this list.

Section 1 of the User Guide provides a brief quick start.

Thanks to Jeromy Kostner of Seattle City Light, these are the new installation instructions, current as of August 24, 2018.

ECAM Installation PDF

Microsoft has changed the default security behavior for certain file types, e.g. files originating on the internet. To work around the default settings you will need to change a property on the ECAM file.

  1. Right click on the file and choose Properties
  2. On the General tab, click Unblock
  3. Click OK

For more information about this issue see this Microsoft technet blog article and security bulletin.

ECAM UnblockScreenshot

If that still doesn’t work (as it might not on some 2016 systems), then you can simply open the ECAM file manually. It should ask if you want to enable macros.


You must select enable macros for ECAM to work. It will look like the workbook didn’t open, but you should now see ECAM on the add-in menu.

ECAM Add inScreenshot
  • Check that dates (and times, if separate) are recognized as a number by Excel.  Formatted as a number (easily done by selecting the “,” Number format on the ribbon, the date should appear similar to “42,569.00.” That is the number for July 18, 2016 at 12 AM .
  • Try using the cell in an equation like:
    • =Day([referenced cell])
    • =Hour([referenced cell])
    • =0 + ([referenced cell])
    • if it comes back with an error, then Excel doesn’t think it’s a number.  This sometimes requires Excel trickery (or retyping, but try trickery first because retyping is tedious.)
    • Try something like these functions
      • =VALUE([referenced cell])
      • =NUMBERVALUE([referenced cell])
  • Report your starting date formats to the ECAM developers so that future improvements can accommodate your format.
  • If it’s a baseline post-Project analysis, make sure to input project dates.  All the data in one graph is messy and might not make sense.
  • If you assumed dates for your meter readings you’re probably wrong. This includes assuming they’re read on the first of every month and splitting a bimonthly bill in 2. Don’t do that. Get the correct read dates.
  • If you used the actual meter readout (incrementing sum), use the monthly/daily change instead
  • If the building is gas heated, this can lead models of electricity use to have terrible correlation (but not always).
  • Some buildings have secondary, non-temperature drivers in energy patterns. Schools have distinct occupancy patterns, as do seasonally driven businesses.
  • Review the data on a time series and scatter chart.  The data itself could be screwy/weird/nonsensical.
    • Try shortening your baseline, e.g. from 2 years to 1.
    • Do some detective work. Call the facility: did major equipment break?  Did they do something different?  You’ll often spot things in the data that isn’t listed in the project description that could screw you up.  Actual real-life examples:
      • Facility was shut down for the season due to wildfires
      • They switched boilers from propane to electric 1.5 years ago
      • The HVAC broke and they heated with portables for a school year.
      • They actually already implemented the project for which you thought you were just preparing a baseline model.)
    • When analyzing daily data with daytyping, the default daytypes don’t work for all buildings. Try doing your own daytyping, since you will always know more about building details than ECAM.
    • If , in the intial ECAM file creation, you read in data as interval when you meant to read it in as monthly, then you’re going to have to start over. Smack palm to forehead and try again.
  • If you’re doing categorical values or custom day-typing (e.g. school day/no school), you need to make sure you have put those on the TMY3 so ECAM know what’s what.
  • If you redid day types, you need to re-input the TMY3 data. At present, ECAM won’t automatically regroup the days.

Free historical weather data can be obtained from NOAA. TMY3 data can be downloaded from within ECAM.

  • Use the simplest model that reasonably matches your data.
  • If you are getting back #div/0 – go look at your models.  You probably don’t have enough points for that model.  If you’re using monthly 5p, switch to 4p.  If you’re doing daily normalization, regroup your daytypes. You’re probably running holidays independently and there aren’t enough points. It’s often preferable to group holidays with similar daytypes.
  • If the baseline is way higher than the annual bill on daily: you need to get rid of the 24 in the equations. Ecam Assumes that data shorter than monthly bills is average kW instead of total kWh.. This approach minimezes the impact of missing data.
  • If you find there’s no graph for daily data… yup.  You have to do that manually.
  • Check Calculation Options (under the Formulas menu).  It sometimes reverts to manual.  Click automatic.
  • Start over from the data input.  It’s pretty quick and this way you can make sure you did it right (and Excel isn’t having a moment).
  • If you change something in the data, remember to use the ECAM utility that tells it the data was changed. ECAM Utilities->”Data” worksheet was changed
  • Get some sleep, take a break, drink some coffee, reevaluate your life decisions, and try everything again

The California Commissioning Collaborative has training videos for ECAM 2.0. Although the newer versions of ECAM are more rich in features, the underlying methods of use have not changed significantly. These tutorials could be helpful if users prefer to learn with short segments of video seminars.

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