Your Data is a Resource
What if when you opened your energy bill you found money instead of an invoice to be paid? With the right tools energy managers can directly create financial value from energy and operational data.
The operational data produced by building systems is a tangible, valuable resource that, when used effectively, can reduce energy and maintenance costs, and enhance overall efficiency and occupant satisfaction. In order to derive benefit from this data, however, we need to be able to efficiently analyze it to find issues of importance. The rapid advances in analytics software have given energy managers a tool that does exactly that.
Deriving Value from Data Using Analytics
If energy managers had the time, resources, expertise and tools to study every piece of data produced by their building systems every minute of the day, they would find numerous opportunities to improve performance. Manually analyzing all of our operational data is simply not viable, however, so we need tools to help us. Analytics is that tool.
The concept behind analytics is very simple – to automatically identify patterns that represent things that matter. Analytics software applies rules and algorithms to the data coming from meters, control systems, sensors and other equipment to identify faults, deviations, and trends – all of which present opportunities for savings and improved performance.
By automating the analysis of data, analytics acts as an ever-present expert providing operators visibility into how their building systems are actually operating. Some real-world examples of issues detected by analytics include:
- Occupancy schedules overridden – energy consumption patterns show continuous operation even when the facility is not occupied
- Buildings starting too early or running too late
- Broken sensors that cause energy waste. Think of a broken pressure sensor that causes a variable air volume system to always operate at maximum airflow. Everyone in the building will be comfortable, but this condition will waste a huge amount of energy
- Improper temperature reset strategies, or missing dead-bands resulting in energy waste, equipment cycling and comfort issues
- Economizers open when they should be closed (or closed when they should be open) resulting in energy waste.
- Degradation of heating and cooling performance. Think of loss of temperature drop across a coil. It may be possible to maintain space temperatures on a mild day, but not when weather conditions become severe
- Simultaneous heating and cooling due to defective valves, dampers, sensors or improper control sequences.
- Energy consumption anomalies and demand peaks which could be avoided if they were identified, visible and fully understood.
Dramatic Impacts to Lifecycle Operating Costs
Analytics does more than help identify energy savings though. By detecting issues in a timely and consistent manner, analytics enables facility staffs to take action, reduce costs, set priorities, justify expenditures and answer question like:
- Are the control sequences doing the “right” things?
- Were the assumptions correct?
- Are systems still running as expected?
- Have they been interfered with or overridden by operators?
- Have sensors or other equipment degraded over time?
Answering these questions effectively, consistently and reliably is a major challenge. Facilities are too complex for this to be done solely by humans. There are simply too many devices and too much data.
Making Analytic Results Clear and Actionable
One of the most important benefits of analytics comes from the “data visualization” it provides. Beyond simply identifying issues, analytics automatically generates intuitive views and reports that clearly show performance patterns, issues, costs, correlations, and in many cases, root cause and recommended actions. Informative visualizations enable technicians to minimize the time and expense needed to research and resolve the issues and the ability for analytics software to automatically generate views without requiring programming is an important advance that makes analytics cost-effective.
Virtually all buildings – old and new – have operational issues. The wealth of data produced by automation systems, equipment systems, meters and a new generation of IoT devices, combined with the power of analytics software, enables owners and operators to identify opportunities to enhance performance, validate investments in energy savings measures, and know how their facilities are really operating.
Analytics have been proven in thousands of facilities and are available from a range of suppliers and service providers. There are many ways to get started, and many different options for service and support. It’s time to create value from your data.
John Petze and SkyFoundry are Associate Members of the Energy Management Association, Official Media Partner of Energy Manager Today. For more facility data insights from John, watch his presentation from CxEnergy 2019, “Using Data Analytics to Automate and Enhance the Commissioning Process.”
John Petze., is a partner in SkyFoundry, the developers of SkySpark™, an analytics platform for building, energy and equipment data. John has over 30 years of experience in building automation, energy management and M2M, having served in senior level positions for manufacturers of hardware and software products including Tridium, Andover Controls, and Cisco Systems. At SkyFoundry he helps facility operators apply analytics to achieve intelligent, efficient, data-driven facilities.
At Energy Manager Today, we cover commercial and industrial energy management issues; our publication’s purpose is to keep energy managers informed about today’s issues, typically focusing on news surrounding what companies are doing in the energy management space and how it will affect our readers. And while that news is vital to energy managers and their ability to do their jobs, our mission has evolved as we came to realize that it is equally important to recognize the people in the space – the vice presidents, directors, managers, and engineers responsible for driving their companies, and the energy management industry itself, forward. Thus, our recognition program was born in 2017 as a way to honor these individuals.