Data Analysis Unlocks Energy Savings
A smart building starts with a single view of data, enabling greater asset efficiency, more effective maintenance and underpinning investment decisions, says ENGIE's Managing Director of Smart Buildings, James Spires, in this month's edition of The Energyst.
Creating smart buildings that control and regulate their energy and operational systems to provide comfortable, efficient, high-performance environments is the ultimate objective for most energy and facilities managers. Smart building solutions allow you to optimise the performance of building systems, eliminate wasted energy, increase productivity and even improve occupant comfort and wellbeing.
Understanding your energy consumption
The first step towards creating an energy-efficient smart building is to connect all of the data produced by your building’s systems, technology and sensors. This can include data on utility consumption, air temperature, humidity, space utilisation, weather conditions, production output, air quality and much more. By collating this data and analysing it on a single platform, you will get a clearer picture of when and where energy is consumed in your building. But more than that, you will gain a clear understanding of the relationships between different activities and assets in your building, so you can see how data in one area is influenced by activities in another.
Harmonise energy-consuming assets
These insights offer a whole host of potential benefits for your business. Firstly, they allow you to see whether assets are working in harmony or in conflict. For example, are heating and cooling systems fighting against each other to achieve different temperatures in certain areas of your building? This can waste a huge amount of energy, and simply unifying HVAC temperature settings in each area will lead to immediate energy savings.
Take control of your energy use
Using the data from your smart building systems enables you to easily identify anomalies or unexpected usage and take appropriate action. By enabling you to take targeted actions, such as improving controls, utilising IOT devices, modifying equipment set-points and schedules, smart building data helps you to significantly improve efficiency and reduce consumption.
If you combine this with the use of automated digital control solutions, you can further optimise the performance of systems and improve building operations and efficiency. For example, by linking lighting to daylight sensors, lights can be dimmed automatically when there is sufficient natural light. Similarly, movement sensors can be used to ensure lights are not left on in unoccupied areas.
Maintenance and servicing efficiencies
By monitoring data from key assets such as air-handling units, pumps, chillers and other mechanical and electrical equipment, you can also ensure maintenance and servicing interventions are timed appropriately and efficiently. So, for example, rather than simply changing air filters every month, you can do so when the data indicates that new filters are needed. Similarly, if any fault is identified, engineers can be directed straight to the problem with an indication of the type of fault, so that interventions can be targeted more accurately and effectively. These insights into the condition and efficiency of your assets help to prevent wasted time and effort for your engineering and maintenance teams.
Informing investment decisions
If you want to invest in more energy-efficient plant, equipment or systems, you can use the accurate, integrated data from your smart building system to provide the evidence needed for any investment proposals. Once investments or operational changes are made, the same data can be used to immediately demonstrate the impact of these changes on energy consumption. Real-time data can also help you to fine tune and adapt any changes to achieve optimum efficiencies. Over the longer term, the data can also be used to measure and report on your return on investment.
Connect your data to deliver energy efficiencies
So connected data is the critical enabler for effective smart building systems – and targeted energy-efficiency programmes. By connecting data via a single intelligent analytics platform, you can ensure that operational changes and capital investments designed to improve energy efficiency are based on a clear understanding of how your building really works. That will enable you to manage your building more efficiently and effectively to achieve cost, energy and resource savings, and to extend the life of your assets.
Find out more about smart buildings.
This article first appeared in The Energyst - May 2019