When was the last time you closely examined your building’s utility bill?
If you’re like most facility managers, it’s probably been a while. That’s because you turn most of your attention to managing your commercial facility, as your primary concern is to maintain a safe, healthy, and comfortable environment for tenants. The accounting team pays the bills. But if you’re also concerned about driving down costs, getting familiar with those complex bills and exactly how you’re being charged is one of the best ways to identify opportunities for savings. Smart building analytics and granular detail IoT devices—assembling and interpreting the data gathered in relation to your daily operations—can help you seize those opportunities, producing substantial cost savings in the here and now.
Following are two simple ways you can use smart building analytics to significantly impact both your energy demand charges and your energy consumption—and promote a healthy, comfortable environment at the same time.
What is a smart building?
People define a “smart building” differently; some would say it’s as basic as having simple lighting control and automated HVAC control. That might be accurate to a degree, but in our view, a truly smart building captures and integrates all the details associated with various operations components—heating, air conditioning, lighting, security, building access, etc.—and analyzes them in conjunction with other factors such as the weather and the electric grid. The goal is to formulate the optimal strategy for facility operation. The benefits of smart buildings run deeper than simple automation; they’re all about optimization using big data and analytics.
2 Simple Ways To Realize Savings With Smart Building Analytics
1. Reduce your demand charge.
In order to maintain a constant supply of electricity to your facility, the utility company will calculate your building’s maximum hourly power requirement over a billing cycle; that kilowatt level is then multiplied by a specific rate to determine the actual amount charged to you (called a demand charge). Essentially, it ensures your building gets all the energy it needs at all times. Demand charge makes up a significant portion of your bill, so it’s worth your while to find ways to reduce it.
One of the major benefits of smart buildings is that they can monitor environmental conditions, which in turn allows you to take responsive action. For example, if you know it’s going to be a very hot, 90-degree day with high humidity, you can change the operating schedule based on the weather forecast and cool the building down earlier in the day. By taking measures to mitigate those demand costs, you reduce the amount of electricity needed later, say around 2 p.m. that afternoon, reducing your demand charges from a potential $12/kw to $4/kw. It’s not hard to see how a strategy like this would lower your costs substantially. By some estimates, reducing your demand charge by just 5 percent could reduce your entire utility bill by 40 percent while still allowing you to maintain the comfort level of the building.
The energy consumed over a month is the kWh charge; there’s also a separate charge for the maximum energy demand measured in kW. In the peak demand season, the kW charge can be four or five times the normal amount.
2. Reduce your energy consumption.
In many buildings, the amount of fresh air ventilation is maintained at a constant level, usually based on peak occupancy. However, most buildings aren’t at peak occupancy much of the time, which means you’re overspending on the electricity required for ventilation. Implementing a demand control ventilation system can help.
Demand control ventilation regulates outside air intake to accommodate actual human occupancy and activity within the building. Consider the case of an automated HVAC system. Typically, the air handling units in a commercial facility bring in outside air (ventilation) to maintain adequate air quality for employees; that air then needs to be “conditioned,” or cooled. The amount brought in is usually determined by the maximum occupancy in proportion to the square footage of the building. Sufficient outdoor air must be provided to keep CO2 levels below 1,000 parts per million in order to comply with EPA guidelines for commercial buildings.
A smart building would have air quality sensors to measure and monitor both the building temperature and the CO2 levels. If sensors indicate the facility is operating around 700 parts per million, for example, you may want to reduce the amount of hot, humid air you bring in from outside. Being able to regulate outside air intake based on actual CO2 readings throughout the facility is a tremendous advantage, and reduces the amount of energy the building consumes.
Both of the above measures can substantially reduce your energy consumption and costs overall.
Start Reducing Your Building’s Energy Costs Today
Are you searching for ways to reduce your energy costs? Talk to us at Iota Communications about our smart building solutions. Our line of IoT sensors enables us to remotely monitor your building’s operations for the purpose of developing energy profiles and load signatures. And our BrightAI solution helps you formulate strategies to optimize energy efficiency through analytics and machine learning. Our customers have reduced their energy costs in the peak demand and consumption areas by 20 to 40 percent as a result.
Contact us today to talk about your facility—and learn how we can help you start saving.