By Logan Soya
Facility executives are always looking for ways to meet and exceed the needs of their occupants, while still maintaining margins for buildings owners. Achieving these goals requires maximum control of the buildings they manage. When making improvements in a building, it is often hard to justify the added costs and get the project approved, especially without being able to demonstrate exactly how effective the efforts will be.
The ultimate goals are to catch problems early, make operating fixes quickly, keep occupants happy, and drive down operating expenses. As some of the projects require a higher premium than can normally be justified, facility executives require a way to prove the money will be well spent.
Enter real-time data.
How many energy data points does a building manager see each year? If the collection of monthly energy bills is the extent of the granularity, then the answer is 12. What do 12 data points per year reveal? Not much. Energy costs depend on too many variables for one to guess the reasons for variance in spending from month to month. Additionally, the bills do not offer a way to clearly map and analyze the little information provided.
Real-time data gives facility managers a pulse on their properties, to always know exactly what’s happening in a building, instead of waiting for a surprise bill at the end of each month.
What can facility executives do with all that data?
In the past, members of the facility management team may have spent 90% of their time collecting data and 10% analyzing it. Now, they can spend only 10% of their time collecting the data and 90% analyzing it, allowing the team to make fast, educated decisions to maximize productivity.
1. Get Everything On Track
The first step is to get all existing processes and operations in order. Reconsider the building’s baseload and scheduling. Does its energy spend compare well to similar buildings? Is it only operating when it needs to be? Is it set to take advantage of economizers and nighttime setbacks?
2. Receive Accurate Information
Gone are the days of being understaffed and unable to rely on teammates to report what is happening in a building accurately. Instead, centralized real-time data allows facility executives to see exactly what’s happening at all times. Plus, depending on the software used, teams can receive real-time alerts if there is irregular activity in a building that needs attention right away.
3. Keep Up With Benchmarking Requirements
If the building has not already been required to benchmark using Energy Star, it probably will be soon. Each city has slightly different mandates for buildings to report their energy data publicly, but as the requirement becomes more widespread, real-time data will keep facility managers ahead of the game, simplifying the process and making the data collection useful, instead of being a burden.
4. Check The Efficacy Of Your Projects
Once spending begins on energy projects for improving a building, it will be necessary to prove that the changes are actually making a difference. With monthly data, it is difficult to attribute differences in monthly bills to energy projects. However, with real-time data it is easier to see how projects affect the energy spend and thus report the exact monetary value in savings over time.
From here, the possibilities are endless.
Once schedules and baseloads are under control, it will be time to showcase these contributions to the company’s progress and achievements. Real-time data will also prove that the retrofit investment requested will truly be a success.
When it comes to operating buildings, data driven decision-making is the key to gaining trust and satisfying stakeholders. Real-time data helps facility managers stay one step ahead, so they do not get caught not knowing something about a particular building. This will also keep the owners satisfied and the occupants comfortable, leading the facilities team to be entrusted to make more impactful decisions about how to operate and upgrade the building. Facility managers know the most about their buildings. With real-time data, they can back up that knowledge with shareable facts that display their success.
Soya is Founder and CEO of Aquicore, a company providing energy intelligence solutions to monitor and analyze real-time data. An expert in data collection, data management, and operations management software, Soya received his MBA at Georgetown University and London Business School, an MS in Systems Management and a BS in Physics. He brings expertise about how the “internet of things”, economical submetering, and centralized energy information will change the building management industry, and how to take advantage of it.