March 2016

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EMAIL INTERVIEWBill Holmes and Ken Sinclair

Bill Holmes, Founder, Holmes AutoPilot LLC

Bill Holmes is a mechanical engineer who has spent his entire career working with Energy Systems, first with planes in the Air Force and since 1974, in buildings. Based on his instrumentation experience in the Air Force, he may have been the first Energy Professional to recognize the opportunity to apply the same methods used to fly airplanes successfully, to operate buildings efficiently. Bill has been called the “Father of Energy Monitoring”.

With a BS and MS in mechanical engineering and additional coursework toward his PhD, Bill has been a practicing Engineer, Mechanical Systems Designer, Purdue Professor and Energy Manager Responsible for Energy Conservation, System Operation, Control and Maintenance 24/7 in multiple facilities. He taught for several years in the Continuing Education in Energy Management Program at the University of Wisconsin.  After receiving his Registrations as a Professional Engineer in Ohio and Indiana, he became a Charter Member of the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) and one of the first Certified Energy Managers (CEM). He was later the Energy Manager of the Year for the Hoosier (Indiana) Chapter of AEE and received a DOE Award for Energy Innovation in 1990 for using his Energy Monitoring System and Methods to reduce the energy costs by 67% in an Ice Arena.

“Unleash the Power of Cloud-Based Energy Monitoring in Your Facility”

This is the 21st century; the Information Age. It’s way past time to abandon the antiquated practices.

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Unlease the PowerSinclairI would like to know more about your new Book, “Unleash the Power of Cloud-Based Energy Monitoring in Your Facility”. Why did you decide to write it?

Holmes:  After all of the case studies, articles, papers, blogs and presentations that I have done on Energy Monitoring during my career, it dawned on me that I had never seen a book explaining all of the advantages and exactly “How-To” do it. So I decided to write one to help others learn how to do what I have been doing for 37 years.

SinclairNow certainly seems like a good time with more people understanding the value of information and the tremendous interest in the IIoT, Real Time Monitoring and Fault Detection.

Holmes:  Exactly what I thought. I’ve tried to summarize in practical and common sense terms, the most important things I have learned designing, building, installing and operating Energy Monitoring Systems. It’s not a typical engineering book; it’s a pretty easy read. Only a little over 100 pages with plenty of charts, schematics, examples, case summaries and even some comics.

SinclairIn what types of facilities have you installed Energy Monitoring Systems?

Holmes:  Our clients have included libraries, office buildings, schools and hospitals to industrial plants owned by G.E., Honda, RCA and many others. For the past several years we have worked exclusively in industrial plants and other complex facilities.

In non-industrial facilities, we provided the monitoring systems at our cost and our only fees were a percentage of documented savings each month. By applying the Continuous Improvement Process to the resulting data, we learned how to create the greatest savings as quickly as possible at the lowest cost and maintain them on an ongoing basis.

We normally recovered our investment within a few weeks and quickly learned that an Energy Monitoring System is the best investment that can be made in energy efficiency. Had it not been, we would have either quickly gone under or abandoned the use of monitoring systems.

SinclairWhat kind of savings and other benefits have resulted?

Holmes:  We have reduced energy costs by 10%, 20% and in some cases, more than 50%, through no-cost, low-cost changes in operation, control and maintenance alone. No Energy Audits, Benchmarking or Capital Projects were required. In industrial plants, where they purchased and owned the Energy Monitoring System, the payback on that investment, from utility cost reductions alone was weeks or months in nearly every project.

We were initially surprised to learn that the utility savings costs were often just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the benefits of an Energy Monitoring System. When monitored data is used to change the way Energy Systems are operated and maintained, huge benefits result. Performance and Reliability Increase, Operating and Maintenance costs go down and through Remote Monitoring and Fault Detection, personnel can spend their time Proactively Managing Energy Systems rather than reacting to costly and potentially hazardous failures.

In several projects a huge hidden opportunity was exposed and corrected which literally paid for the monitoring system in one day through “avoided costs”! The book includes several examples of savings in addition to improving the energy efficiency of the facility.

SinclairBasing decisions about operating energy systems at their highest efficiency on actual monitored data makes a lot of sense to me.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Holmes:  This is the 21st century; the Information Age. It’s way past time to abandon the antiquated practices of Energy Audits, Benchmarking and “Estimating” energy use and manage Energy Systems based on Information, like airplanes, automobiles, trains, and nearly every other sophisticated device or system in the world other than buildings, is operated.

By installing a Permanent Energy Monitoring System as the first step in every project, Energy Audits, Benchmarking, collecting spot data, all of the hours associated with “estimating” energy use and savings, commissioning, M&V evaluation, periodic retro-commissioning and many Capital Projects can be eliminated. Those savings will more than pay for the cost of the Energy Monitoring System.

Hopefully, this book will help other learn how to do what we have been doing so successfully for the past 37 years.

SinclairThanks for your time Bill and for making your book available as a Free Download at:


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