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Energy Management in an “Internet of Things” World

It is not enough to simply benchmark historical data (energy, operations, fault diagnostics or other), rather it is necessary to utilize that history as a baseline to begin to truly measure and manage facilities.
Jim Lee, CEO Cimetrics
Jack McGowan, CEM
McGowan Group
Contributing Editor

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Since day one in Energy Management, technology has played a role in nearly every aspect of the discipline.  Energy conservation measure (ECM) opportunities have involved lighting, HVAC equipment, variable frequency drives, automation and a host of other systems and applications.  Certainly software from spreadsheets to Building Information Modeling have been influencer's on the discipline as well.  However, the mainstream building and energy user community still thinks of most building activities (construction, remodel, retrofit, etc.) as “single events”.  Jim Rodger’s, former CEO of Duke Energy, introduced a term into the energy lexicon about a decade ago; “cathedral thinking”.  As a Certified Energy Manager (CEM), consultant and solution provider, I always appreciated this simple idea.  In case the reader missed that dialog, please indulge a brief explanation.  Cathedral thinking in this case, likens the work of energy management to that of building cathedrals in Europe during the Middle Ages.  Those cathedral builders had to approach that work with enthusiasm, planning and a focus on continuity, which recognized that those who started the work would never live to see that Cathedral completed.  Cathedral thinking in energy management is critical, and the connection to the technology and Internet of Things become clear when we realize that new technology, particularly Analytics, offers both a framework and a vehicle for “energy continuity”.  This is true for all types of buildings, consider a global pharmaceutical company that designed an environmentally friendly 350,000 square foot, LEED Platinum corporate headquarters.  It would have been easy for this owner to assume the single event of building construction was completed, but the owner secured Analytics technology and business process service and was able to generate $405,000 per year in energy savings, cutting its bills by 26%.  Such examples are why this article views energy management through the lens of Analytics, because ultimately this software presents the most significant potential for advanced energy management of any technology ever developed.  That is a big assertion, and so the goal here is to offer enough validation for the idea that managers will seriously consider how this technology could benefit their facilities.

Big DataFor these authors, the words Energy and Analytics belong in the same breath.  That is why the title of McGowan's new book is; Energy and Analytics, Big Data and Building Technology Integration, The Fairmont Press 2015.  Energy Management in the 21st Century is being influenced by wide ranging policy, business and technology trends; none more significant than Analytics, Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT).  CEM’s can easily be deterred by the complexity of these topics, but it is critical to develop an understanding of these topics and how they can take energy management to a new level.  Another important point, perhaps not immediately evident, is that Analytics technology cannot produce optimum results, unless there is a robust underlying fabric of building / energy technology that is fully operational and ideally based upon proven standards.  Integrating that underlying technology, as well as IoT, with Analytics creates access to the full spectrum of data from the building and the energy system to truly benchmark a building or campus.  Equally important Analytics is as much about building and business intelligence, as it is about technology.  Highly skilled building experts, often called Analysts, are critical to deploying the interface to the building, to identifying that data that is needed, to understanding meaning in the data coming from the building and to tailoring Analytics to specific applications in ways that optimize the business process.  It is not enough to simply benchmark historical data (energy, operations, fault diagnostics or other), rather it is necessary to utilize that history as a baseline to begin to truly measure and manage facilities.  And that measurement process must be done in the context of the business process to ensure that the goal is not just about improvement but continuous improvement.  Equally important is to understand that energy is essential, but also to recognize that electricity is both the highest quality form of energy, because it offers the cleanest and most diverse use, but the form of energy that presents the greatest risk when it is interrupted.  Electricity is essential to business, education and entertainment, and the buildings in which all of these industries operate.  Yet the system is fraying at the edges, and that means CEM’s must consider not only energy management but energy resilience.  Leveraging the Internet of Things presents a whole set of new opportunities for both management and resilience, consider the use of “Bluetooth” for occupancy strategies in some large urban office buildings.  Accessing Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which is built into most of the latest smartphones, Beacons can be used to determine building occupancy, particularly on summer afternoons when peak demand is high.  Occupancy changes can allow lighting and HVAC to be modulated to lower consumption profiles, without creating a negative impact on occupant.  At the same time the occupancy data with such a strategy also tells the system where people are, opening up further potential for savings.  Accomplishing such strategies requires that Building Automation and other systems are operating properly and that tools like fault detection and diagnostics have ensured optimal HVAC performance.  With the advent of LED’s, this same level of granular control for illumination is possible as well.  Interoperability can be extended to other building systems and equipment through the BAS, but very likely to the business process through an IoT interface as well.  Interoperability and interconnectedness of energy consuming equipment and devices in buildings comes full circle by providing the information necessary to truly understand and explain energy consumption profiles.  At the same time this technology enables near real time measurement and verification of building performance and financial ROI of ECM investments.  The book outlines applications such as these, but it also provides a treatise on the underlying technologies from BAS, to data communications and middleware, as well as the Analytics tools themselves, so that even a novice can understand how all these topics hang together.

This Energy and Analytics topic may seem a bit futuristic to many readers, and that is why the book closes with a series of case studies to show what success looks like and show that this is happening now.  James M. Lee, CEO of Cimetrics, Inc. has been implementing this technology for decades, even before IoT, and he wrote the introduction to this series of chapters including one from his company and one from Microsoft Corporation. These successes are not limited to the high tech world though; cities, universities, hospitals and a wide range of other building types are seeing great success with Energy and Analytics as well.  In fact the pharmaceutical headquarters building mentioned above is a Cimetrics, Analytika implementation. It was a collaboration with the building automation system provider, to connect to and collect sensor and actuator data from almost 9,000 physical points.  Data was collected continuously, 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year, totaling over 850,000 data samples per day from air handling units, chilled water and hot water pumps, chillers, cooling towers, over 550 terminal units, solar panel arrays, and a lighting control system. Over 1,000 Analytika software algorithms continuously analyzed the data to identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption, improve comfort, and reduce operations and maintenance costs.  Next engineers leveraged Analytika software to identify opportunities, determine root cause, and calculate annual savings impact and make actionable recommendations.  The result was an implementation that paid for itself in less than six months and beyond energy savings also produced Sustainability through CO2 emissions reductions.  Also of importance, this technology provided information to evaluate and manage vendor performance on service contracts, and allowed the owner to meet code and safety requirements for this building.

contemporary So energy management in an IoT world will be built on the same principles as energy management in the past, and yet it will afford an opportunity to conduct activities on a more continuous basis than ever before.  Analytics software can calculate energy intensity on a near continuous basis, compare it to both baselines and benchmarks, and even reach into building systems to access data that can be used to perform analysis that explains why the profile looks as it does.  The software can then integrate a host of key performance indicators and business factors to determine the appropriate response to performance metrics.  Cathedral thinking has always been a corner stone of energy management, but the work is labor intensive, and that has made it difficult to consistently evaluate performance.  The convergence of Analytics with IoT and the underlying fabric of increasingly smarter building systems presents significant opportunity for energy management. 

About the Authors

Jim Lee – CEO, Founder – Cimetrics
Mr. Lee is the founder of Cimetrics and has acted as its CEO since its formation. Mr. Lee has been a leader in the embedded control networking and building automation community for over 20 years. As founder and former President of the BACnet Manufacturers Association (now BACnet International), the leading open systems networking consortium in the building automation industry, Mr. Lee’s aggressive promotion of the BACnet open protocol standard has helped make Cimetrics a high profile player in the arena. Mr. Lee has an earned B.A. in Physics from Cornell University.

Jack McGowan, Principal – McGowan Group
Jack is a consultant and a Senior Fellow with the Governing Institute.  He is also Principal with the McGowan Group.  Over four decades he has held wide ranging management positions spanning the public and private sectors. He was President and CEO of Energy Control Inc. (ECI), an Energy Service Company (ESCO) and led the company through merger and acquisition by OpTerra Energy, currently the largest privately held ESCO in the United States.  He also held management positions with Honeywell Inc. and Johnson Controls Inc.  He is Chairman Emeritus, U.S. DOE GridWise Architecture Council, and a Fellow with the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).  AEE admitted him to the “International Energy Managers Hall of Fame” in 2003.


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