Context: Definition of a comprehensive facility data model is a prerequisite for providing more advanced energy management systems capable of tackling the underlying heterogeneity of complex infrastructures, thus providing more flexible data interpretation and event management, advanced communication and control system capabilities. Objective: This paper proposes one of the possible implementations of a facility data model utilizing the concept of ontology as part of the contemporary Semantic Web paradigm. Method: The proposed facility ontology model was defined and developed to model all the static knowledge (such as technical vendor data, proprietary data types, and communication protocols) related to the significant energy consumers of the target infrastructure. Furthermore, this paper describes the overall methodology and how the common semantics offered by the ontology were utilized to improve the interoperability and energy management of complex infrastructures. Initially, a core facility ontology, which represents the generic facility model providing the general concepts behind the modelling, was defined. Results: In order to develop a full-blown model of the specific facility infrastructure, Malpensa and Fiumicino airports in Italy were taken as a test-bed platform in order to develop the airport ontology owing to the variety of the technical systems installed at the site. For the development of the airport ontology, the core facility ontology was first extended and then populated to reflect the actual state of the target airport facility. Conclusion: The developed ontology was tested in the environment of the two pilots, and the proposed solution proved to be a valuable link between separate ICT systems involving equipment from various vendors, both on syntax and semantic level, thus offering the facility managers the ability to retrieve high-level information regarding the performance of significant energy consumers. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.