Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting
A good starting point for your adventure into achieving energy excellence.
June 30, 2020 By Darren A. Cooper
With the rapid development in recent years of Internet of things (IoT) devices, cloud-based platforms and the cost effectiveness of device level data collection, particularly energy consumption, the opportunities to get a clear and visual understanding of how your equipment or systems are operating is becoming a reality. This level of insight allows for real actions to be taken based on a solid business case and proven data.
The goal of monitoring, targeting and reporting is to ensure operational and energy cost savings are achieved through the implementation of efficiency measures related to systems and equipment as well as the facility operation and overall production.
It’s important to understand why these opportunities exist in the first place, and this often comes down to a misconception that if something is operating correctly then it must be efficient. This becomes much more complicated to understand in a complex system, but a simple example is a light fixture in your own home.
A 60-Watt incandescent bulb produces the required light for the task at hand and is therefore deemed to be effective and efficient, or more commonly the efficiency was not properly evaluated. Replacing that same 60-Watt bulb with a 7-Watt LED would typically produce better light quality, which may improve productivity all while doing it with less energy.
Many pieces of operating equipment and systems in buildings that exist today had an initial concept and at that time there were certain maximum efficiencies that were possible, such as pre-LED lighting technology. From the initial concept there was a design process, likely with some compromises either related to budget or availability of equipment, followed by a construction or installation which likely also had “as-built” conditions. Through further setup and adjustments over time, coupled with maintenance activities, there has likely been further degradation from the optimum efficiency of equipment and systems both from a production or operational state as well as energy consumption.
By undertaking monitoring, targeting and reporting the opportunity for improvement is developed by understanding what is happening and identifying how to improve the current state, often with focused service and maintenance rather than capital expenditure. And the process also puts into action the measures to create documented operational and energy improvements for long term success.
It is also important to understand that efficiency gains don’t always create an energy saving, therefore never measure success only on a reduction in energy. For example, if improving a production process cooling loop results in fewer defective parts and increase the overall volume of parts being produced, the measured energy being used may actually increase, so in this case it’s important to use the energy cost per unit produced as the measure for success.
Monitoring, targeting and reporting is quite simply these three steps
- Monitoring: Done to create a baseline using historical utility, operation or production data and whenever possible the addition of sub-metering either at a system or device level. Remember, if you are tracking energy savings you will need to be in the 10% overall reduction before you see a change on the utility bill, assuming you can accurately normalize for variables such as weather, production volumes, occupancy etc. The monitoring is also to evaluate energy, demand performance of equipment/systems, operation/production and other variables and to establish operational efficiency and productivity metrics by which you are going to measure the success of what is undertaken.
- Targeting: In this second phase you identify and implement operational and energy efficiency measures. During this phase, the collected data is used to build the action plan which includes a business plan and also an estimate of demand reduction and/or electricity and energy savings based on the proposed implementations. Implementation of measures usually starts with focused service and maintenance activities that are either funded from an existing allocated budget or have a very short simple payback where the needed funds can be allocated from the operational budget (OpEx), rather than needing to be done through a usually more laborious process of capital expenditure (CapEx).
- Reporting: The final phase is very important and not to be missed or glossed over. Demonstrating success rewards efforts made and drives a desire to do more. Reports detail what has been done and include calculations of actual operational efficiencies gained and if possible, the measured energy and demand savings all done in accordance with the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) guidelines.
An important part of the reporting is also to highlight what must be done to ensure that ongoing operational gains, energy management and sustained savings are not eroded over time. This can include revised schedules for maintenance, alerting and alarming and moving more towards a performance-based maintenance program rather than a traditional passage of time approach.
Improvements in technology are improving equipment performance and simplifying maintenance. Look at motor vehicles that historically had no oil monitoring systems. For these vehicles it was accepted that oil changes should be done every 5,000 miles or every six months regardless of the operation of the vehicle or the driving conditions. Modern vehicles have oil monitoring systems that determine the need for the oil change based on many factors including how the vehicle has been operated (highway versus city driving for example) and the environment.
This same performance-based maintenance can be applied to any equipment or system that has sufficient data being recorded and being made readily available for analysis.
There are a few added steps to consider during your monitoring, targeting and reporting project. Remember to develop a written project plan and to share this widely. This will help manage expectations and should include who is to be involved in the project with specific roles and responsibilities. Include how to communicate the project to everyone regardless of how involved they will be.
Data collection is another important step. Detail what data is required, for what durations and how this is going to be gathered. There are many cost-effective wireless sensors that can be used, and some are self-powering or have a solar cell for power. Power over ethernet (PoE) is also a developing option for ‘wired’ devices.
Battery-powered sensors can be problematic if they are transmitting a lot of regular data, as the battery life can be severely shortened. The investment of battery replacement can be cost prohibitive, not because of the cost of the battery itself but because of the time needed to find, access, change and redeploy the sensor.
Wherever possible and practical, make the data collection permanent so that it can be used in the future to assist with performance-based activities and to help ensure that efficiencies gained are not eroded over time—as things have a tendency to drift back to the old “business-as-usual” state if not watched.
Once you have identified improvement projects in your facility or operations, look for available grants, incentives, tax credits etc. that may be available to help fund the project. Many levels of government and utilities across North America have these available and they are often easy to collect if you have measured the required pre-project base-line data and the post-project data in accordance with accepted measurement and verification guidelines.
Not only do incentives help with financing the business case, but they also represent an external validation of the success of the efforts that went into a project. Happy adventuring!
If your business or facility is interested in learning more and having a discussion in regards to Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting, Renteknik’s engineers and technical experts will be happy to continue the conversation.
Darren A. Cooper, P.Eng, LEED AP, CBCP, is president Renteknik Group Inc., a team of professionals with engineering, project management, supply chain, financial and business expertise with a goal of guiding and educating commercial, industrial, municipal, institutional and multi-residential clients on how to maximize operational efficiency, reduce energy consumption, achieve energy savings and improve productivity. renteknikgroup.com
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