By Greg Fasullo
This year and beyond will bring increased pressure on many facility executives to manage their energy consumption better and increase the sustainability of their businesses.
Reducing the increasing cost of energy has traditionally been the driver for energy management systems, and it is still a powerful influence as energy consumption and energy costs continue to rise. But in many regions, high energy costs are joined by new laws designed to promote sustainability, which by their very nature will create a challenge for facility executives to aggregate effectively the tremendous amount of data these systems produce.
Fortunately, technology has evolved whereby traditional energy management systems (EMS) can leverage the Internet to deliver a complete energy management solution. The silver lining brought on by this capability is business intelligence that provides actionable insight into the condition of capital equipment while identifying opportunities for driving efficiencies and savings across a distributed portfolio.
To address the new and distinct challenges that face the facility executive, a handful of industry mavericks are taking a page from the Internet industry’s “as a service” business model to deliver what is now being called Energy Management as a Service (EMaaS).
With EMaaS, facility management professionals can begin to recognize the full value of an EMS without breaking the bank on hiring additional staff to support and sift through a mountain of energy data for valuable insights.
Energy Management Systems
An EMS can provide dramatic energy cost savings and deliver extensive facility intelligence. They provide an unprecedented window into the condition of HVAC, lighting, refrigeration, and other electrical systems. These systems produce business intelligence that results in higher efficiency, better operating procedure,s and reduced maintenance costs.
However, as an EMS connects to more systems, facility managers are faced with a flood of data and an unmanageable number of alerts that make it virtually impossible for existing staff to effectively manage their facilities. In fact, a feature-rich EMS can produce in excess of 13,000 data points per day.
EMaaS Changing Energy Management
So EMaaS has emerged as the answer to address many facility executive woes, taking the burden off the plate of the facility department by providing a team of data scientists that proactively evaluate incoming energy data in real-time and convert that data into clear, comprehensible insights to drive actionable decisions across their facilities
Instead of the facilities team needing to react to problems after they occur, an on-call EMaaS team can engage the facility team to address issues at the critical point in time when they impact the business.
EMaaS also allows facility managers to reduce maintenance costs. For example, the average cost of an HVAC service call is $750. But with EMaaS, the facility executive can better diagnose if the HVAC system is facing a non-emergency or anomaly that does not require a service call. In my experience I have seen that by leveraging software to triage HVAC equipment remotely, a customer can reduce the number of annual repair calls by more than 50%
EMaaS also helps facility executives with capital planning, especially for HVAC systems, which are typically 15% of the invested capital in a new location. With the relevant information provided by a team of data scientists, facility managers and their construction teams can precisely determine the proper sizing of HVAC for new or retrofit locations.
The data compiled and analyzed by data scientists can also help evaluate the energy savings of other carbon saving decisions, such as the migration to LED lighting or to properly size HVAC systems on new facilities.
This team proactively monitors each facility and distills the firehose of data into actionable insight that drives down energy and maintenance costs while improving efficiencies. Facility managers can get access to these insights through a web-based customer dashboard (available on a PC or mobile device), through alarm updates, where the data team calls the customer to alert them to issues, and via custom reports that target a specific issue.
EMaaS Impact In 2015 And Beyond
As we move deeper into 2015, many cities are now quickly approaching the deadlines for building energy disclosure laws, including San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, and Boston. As energy disclosure laws become more widespread, EMaaS will help facility executives proactively report on their energy usage, as well as ensure the facility team is taking the appropriate actions to ensure their buildings are as energy efficient as possible.
Another topic that gained a lot of traction last year was Net Zero buildings. As building owners continue their attempt to reach this sustainability goal, EMaaS will likely play a significant role in the reporting and analysis of energy usage.
With the influx of data from numerous systems and new goals and regulations, energy management will be a huge issue in 2015 and facility executives should look toward EMaaS to ensure their buildings are achieving the maximum efficiency.
Fasullo is CEO for EnTouch Controls, an energy management company based in Richardson, TX. A seasoned executive and serial entrepreneur, he has a proven track record of building and leading technology businesses. Previously, Fasullo served as general manager and vice president, energy systems division for Lineage Power. He has also held roles at Eltek Valere, Valere Power, and Bell Labs Lucent Technologies.