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Measure, map and manage

Our industry now has the power to measure and sensor almost every piece of building information and then map it to graphical representations to develop strategies for managing from anywhere, anytime. To effectively make this happen, we need to lower the cost of sensors and their installation, increase their reach by improving our presentation models while looking to the cloud for low cost management of dynamic building information.


November 26, 2009
By Ken Sinclair

Measure
The business case is simple for measuring is simple, says Daryl Cowie, Business Development Manager for Wescon Technologies. “Energy costs today regularly account for 20 per cent to 30 per cent of total building operation budgets,” he says. “Good energy management programs have been repeatedly proven to save between 15 per cent and 30 per cent on energy costs. This equates to somewhere between three per cent and nine per cent of your total operating budget. That’s money in your pocket (or at least the owner’s pocket). Numbers like this are hard to argue with.”

Yet regardless of all the press about green technology and energy efficiency, Cowie isn’t seeing commercial and industrial buildings operating at anywhere near the efficiency they should.

“Over the past few years, study after study has reported 15-30 per cent savings in energy usage directly related to submetering programs,” says Cowie. “For facilities with over $1 million in energy spending, this equates to annual six figure savings and systems that pay for themselves in less than a year. For smaller installations the paybacks are still very respectable and the savings continue year after year. Given the high cost of energy the value of energy management programs is no longer in question.”

The challenge, according to Cowie, is how to wade through the different system approaches to find a solution that’s right for you. For more of Cowie’s thoughts, click here.

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Facility operators do have tools to help them, of course. Many are starting to use submetering to more accurately measure usage and demand for cost allocation load shedding and verifying compliance with LEED and other public and private-sector energy initiatives.

“Sold through distribution, electric submeters are easily integrated with water, gas and other pulse-output utility meters, and energy intelligence software, to provide a total facility energy snapshot,” says Don Millstein, President and CEO, E-Mon, LLC

“Submeters acquire the energy data using 0-2V output split-core current sensors that are installed non-invasively around the electrical feeds being metered,” he continues. “This eliminates having to power down the load and makes for a safer, faster install for the electrical contractor.”

Millstein notes that “Submeters contribute directly toward points under several LEED green building certification categories. Any energy initiative that requires measurement and verification of program guidelines—and they all do—is fertile ground for submetering.”

For more on LEED points available from submetering, click here.

Map
Mapping involves taking the data that comes from properly metering and measuring, and determining how this data can help improve processes.

Chemawa Indian School, located in Salem, Oregon, is using an Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard (EEED) to see how much power, water, and gas is being used throughout its campus, and how this usage can be improved. The EEED is displayed on an interactive 19-inch monitor located in the campus’ boiler room and will primarily be used by the school’s facility staff. The EEED communicates with the school’s building automation system to display the utility usage information that it is monitoring.

To learn more about this particular approach, click here to read Sarah Erdman’s article on the school.

Manage
It is clear if we do not manage our energy effectively and quickly, regulations will be put in place to do it for us. California is a good example of how the regulatory landscape is changing. It was the first state to mandate energy reporting for all non-residential buildings.

“Assembly Bill 1103 mandates that all California non-residential buildings report energy use beginning January 2009 and make this information available in January 2010,” notes Gina Elliott, MBA Project Director, Smart Buildings LLC. “The most recent 12-months data will be available to all prospective buyers, lessees, or lenders. The purpose of the energy reporting is 1) to allow comparisons to similar buildings, 2) aid owners and operators in managing their energy costs, 3) motivate owners to take action to improve a building’s energy usage, 4) help investors justify financial investments, and 5) enable energy efficiency to be valued as other building assets are valued within a real estate transaction.”

For more details, read Elliott’s article, Energy Reporting, by clicking here.

It’s important to decide now how to best measure, map and manage your facilities. The changing business landscape is demanding it. Being on or ahead of the curve will be an advantage.

Ken Sinclair is the Editor/Owner of AutomatedBuildings.com.


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