Increase Savings with Centralized Energy Data August 6, 2014 | Samantha Dubrow

If you’re reading this, chances are you and your company own more than one building. Real-time data is a great way to gain granular insight into your buildings’ operating behavior, but having too much unorganized data can be overwhelming. Overwhelming data is nearly impossible to take action on, defeating the purpose of real-time data in the first place.

Whether you own or operate three buildings, a dozen buildings, or 500 buildings, data centralization is the key to making real-time data actionable. With centralized energy data, you can compare building performance across your portfolio, align your team to take action, and make educated decisions for improvement.

STEP 1: MAKE COMPARISONS ACROSS YOUR BUILDING PORTFOLIO.

If you have dozens of buildings, even centralized data can be too much to handle at once. Start by comparing your buildings in chunks. Think of buildings that would be in the same “peer group” according to Energy Star, meaning they have the same primary function.

You can start by comparing large office buildings with 80-90% occupancy in a single city, so the weather is normalized. Choose buildings with similar mechanical systems and tenants that will be easy to compare.

portfolio-grouping

 

Ask critical questions:

Once you identify a group of buildings that should act analogously, ask yourself the following:

1. Do all of these buildings start at the same time during the week? Why or why not?

2. Which of your buildings are consuming the most energy at night? Why or why not?

3. Do all of your buildings use HVAC lockouts? Why or why not?

 

Another option is to compare buildings that operate somewhat differently, to see which buildings are least efficient. For example, you can compare buildings with different HVAC systems, different forms of lighting, or buildings that use and do not use lockouts. Centralization allows you to use your entire portfolio as a case study for energy efficiency, so you can learn best practices over time.

 

Identify worst performers:

Every building can become infinitely more efficient, so how do you choose which buildings to invest in first for energy-saving projects? Without centralization you likely waste time guessing which buildings are operating inefficiently.
By comparing your buildings on one centralized platform, you can quickly identify low performers and effective changes with zero upfront cost, and quickly save on utility bills.

 

baseloads

 

STEP 2: ALIGN YOUR TEAM.

The single most important function of a centralized building management solution is its ability to align key decision makers. No amount of data can be beneficial if it doesn’t reach the right people.

Centralization does not only refer to having all of your buildings’ energy data in one place. It also refers to the ability of every team member to access the data. With a web-enabled solution, data is always accessible online.
If you have multiple facility managers across your company, responsible for different buildings, they can zoom into those specific buildings, while still maintaining the ability to access the entire portfolio.

 

Collaborate easily:

When it’s time to make a decision to invest in an energy-saving project, stakeholders can compare several buildings, which may be under the control of several different facility managers.

If you come across a problem while reviewing your energy management platform, notify your team with all of the necessary information, the same way you manage other maintenance projects or service requests, so the issue can be addressed quickly.

notes

 

Stay informed with summary reports:

Individual team members need different information at different times. Some people may wish access the data a few times a week, while others only spot-check it once a month. Some team members may not ever look at the data, unless someone specifically asks them to.
By creating summary reports for stakeholders to review, each person can get the information they need to do their job. Whether they get a summary once a week or once a month, they can stay in the loop and continue to collaborate with the team.

 

Utilize real-time alerts:

At the end of the day, if there’s a problem in a building, you want to know immediately. If a heater breaks or a BMS system is misconfigured, you and your team can be alerted via email or text message about the irregularity. With everyone on board, your team does not need to rely on a single person to respond to the problem.
 

 

STEP 3: IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND INCREASE SAVINGS.

Over time, some of your buildings will perform more efficiently than others. With centralized energy data, you can bring your entire organization together every few months to discuss what has worked well to establish best practices.

With your team aligned through centralization you can make continuous energy consumption improvements. By using real-time data to understand your energy spending, you can collaborate with your team to model buildings’ operating schedules based on top performers, understand why your utility bills increase or decrease from month to month, and keep an eye on performance across your entire portfolio.

 

Data Centralization, Energy Efficiency, Energy-Saving Projects, Teams

About The Author

When Samantha isn’t writing for the blog or managing our HR like a champ, she studies Organizational Psychology at George Washington University.