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Insight into how a building uses electricity, natural gas, water, and steam should be accessible far beyond those individuals that designed that building. Sure, the initial energy system engineering is incredibly important — but that is only the beginning of that building’s life. Optimizing energy systems, occupancy rates and occupant behavior, preventative maintenance, and many other factors will determine how a building performs in terms of energy efficiency over its life span. Ultimately, the cost to run any building is borne by the ownership and the tenants.
According to the U.S. EPA, energy consumption accounts for 30% of a typical office building’s operating costs. Of that, 30% is wasted or inefficiently used. It’s not hard to figure out that this wastefulness doesn’t make the most fiscal or environmental sense and that having a “smarter” building that operates more efficiently would have numerous benefits. To that end, I would recommend information management and change functionality as major tools in the war on wasted energy.
Energy Monitoring Systems (EMS) provide real-time visibility into energy usage at a facility from systems such as HVAC, lighting, and other mechanisms that pull power. This data is presented in a format that is prescribed by the customer and often shows trends (day over day, month to month, and year over year) benchmarking performance, real-time cost implications, and real-time energy waste of different facilities and equipment. Understanding real-time energy usage and costs allows for real-time actions to be taken to maximize the efficiency of a building’s systems (and, ultimately, reduce both usage and costs). These systems, often times, overlay with existing EMS and provide that real-time actionable data that might be missing.
There is not a “one size fits all” approach, however. The type of building will help dictate which system is best from an ROI perspective. Many systems are designed specifically for different verticals, such as retail, hospitality, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. In most cases, this information rolls-up into a reporting platform that allows management to better understand usage patterns and, thus, more efficiently control them when areas of waste or excess are identified.
Smarter Buildings make for smarter operations. With more information and control comes more opportunity for awareness, action…..and a smaller energy bill.
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