Energy Management Solutions: Bringing Energy Efficiency to Operational Assets

Last modified on September 27th, 2021 at 10:55 am

How are energy management solutions operated?

Energy efficiency has become a pressing concern and a necessary pursuit in the past 10 years. When new projects are being designed and constructed, a multitude of Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs for short) such as well-insulated building envelope, using LED lighting, and installing an efficient HVAC system and equipment are being considered in the first few months of a project’s life cycle. While that is generally a great step towards energy efficiency, the journey does not stop at the end of construction. In fact, the asset’s energy efficiency voyage has only just begun.

We must consider the operational stage of existing assets, from the ones that have been designed and constructed with modern ECMs, to those erected well before energy and sustainability standards have become widespread and regulated. The existing built assets are a key component to focus on in a national pursuit of energy well-being.

There are a magnitude of companies that focus on retrofitting and Energy Service Companies (ESCO) has been established in the market. Despite the expansive growth of the retrofitting industry, over 50% of energy savings opportunities in operating assets are yet to be grasped. The risks on both service providers and clients from such projects also create contractual headaches and financial stress if not planned and executed with sharp precision.

What is a cost-effective solution to this problem?

Energy savings achieved through operational enhancement and energy management solutions optimization can be nearly as much as that achieved with riskier and more expensive retrofit solutions. Operational assets energy management, retro commissioning, and operational energy consultancy can offer savings of 10-20% in buildings on average. The untapped potential for this solution is extensive.

The improvements involved can be from low to no cost up to high cost depending on the asset’s age, type, and available energy conservation systems. These involve changes in temperature set points, set-back strategies, operation optimization, and even awareness workshops and campaigns.

Finding the appropriate operational improvements can be a tedious task that requires lengthy site audits, system inspections, and engineering analytics. It would involve looking at a significant volume of historical data, and having the means to benchmark such data and develop meaningful studies from them. Moreover, the audits and inspections may provide a “present” assessment, but alone, cannot provide a reliable futuristic look ahead beyond simple extrapolations of historical data.

Fortunately, we are in the digital age with data collection, analysis, and assessment tools that did not exist even a few years back. And this is where tools like integrated energy analytics systems, calibrated energy models, and ASHRAE energy audits come to play.

Here is a closer look at what some of these tools are:

Integrated energy analytics systems

Is a tool that speaks with the building sensors, meters, and management systems through either direct links or regularly updated data streams. It collects the data points needed to develop an understanding of the asset’s energy consumption, and even the conditions within the different spaces in the building. The data is then organized and tagged an energy analytics platform from where it can be continuously monitored, updated, analyzed, and reported. This forms the first half of a comprehensive integrated solution. The other half would be the calibrated model which is directly linked to the energy analytics system.

Calibrated Energy Model

An energy model is a digital replica of the built asset on computer software that is capable to process a magnitude of performance parameters, weather data, and operational variations to simulate the energy consumption of the building over a typical year. A calibrated energy model is then a higher-level energy model so to speak that adopts real-time data fed from the integrated energy analytics systems that eliminate a substantial portion of operational assumptions and attempt to reflect the actual building’s performance. Essentially it becomes a digital twin to the built asset.

With this digital twin, the world of possibilities in terms of analytics opens up. Expensive retrofits can be first analyzed and simulated to better predict their ROIs, fine-tuning in system operations can be reflected to study the impact on energy consumption as well as occupant’s comfort, and a wide range of different applications and analytics can be carried out.

Retro-Commissioning

It is a process to enhance the overall performance and efficiency of existing equipment and systems within a built asset. It aids in the identification of maintenance problems, design or construction failures, or rebalancing of the equipment. Retro-commissioning involves a holistic evaluation and assessment of methodologies and solutions to improve the energy use of existing systems.

All of these tools allow for a more rapid energy data assessment and analytics, as well as, a dynamically adjusted crystal ball that looks ahead and provides facility managers and asset owners with a reliable tool to forecast the future energy performance of their building. Furthermore, the energy savings can be identified, monitored, and analyzed remotely.

There you have it. Now you know how energy management solutions are operated.

Ultimately, investing in operational energy management can help you save money and create a greener, less resource-intensive buildings.

Want to know how your project can benefit from operational energy management? Contact us.