Building efficiency is only now joining the information revolution that has changed how so many industries operate, according to a Greentech Efficiency report.
While information quality has dramatically improved for sectors such as transportation – for example, by allowing companies to track shipments on a granular level – such web-based tools are just now becoming a big force in efficiency, according to Intelligent Efficiency: Innovations Reshaping the Energy Efficiency Market. But Greentech says this technology is now changing the game for energy management, and promises to benefit the customer through deeper savings, improved monitoring, enhanced data analytics, increased access to data, and better performance verification.
The tools available include web-based monitoring platforms, analytic capabilities and cheaper sensors, which allow every piece of equipment to be monitored.
Three compelling examples of “intelligent efficiency” are:
- Virtual energy assessments: Remote energy efficiency audits are becoming cheaper and visual dashboards are improving. This allows initial audit activity to shift to virtual assessment companies like FirstFuel (see screen shot, above), Noesis, Retroﬁciency, and Sparc. By quickly monitoring millions of square feet, these companies can cut costs for energy service companies and utilities, who can then better choose targets for more detailed, physical audits. Retroficiency says its software can cut audit costs by 50 to 80 percent.
- Energy dashboards: The flexibility and granularity of these visualizations has improved dramatically. But many companies have entered the market for these low-cost tools, so quality does vary – and just because a company sees how much energy it uses, doesn’t mean it will necessarily take action.
- Data analytics: Greentech says this is where intelligent efficiency “becomes truly intelligent.” Control systems can communicate with each other; management systems can crunch data to make accurate predictions. Software is becoming not only the “check engine” light for the building, but also the mechanic who can offer advice on how to fix the problem. Applications can find equipment failure through temperature sensors or learning the performance of mechanical systems. And many analytics platforms can be layered on top of existing controls and management systems. Vendors include Accenture, EMC Corporation, EnerNOC, General Electric, IBM, Oracle and Honeywell, as well as up-and-coming companies AutoGrid, C3 Energy, Opower and SkyFoundry.
Picture credit: FirstFuel, via GreenTech