This article is sponsored by Daintree Networks.
Those charged with a facility’s energy management are beginning to hear the phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT) increasingly more often within the industry, and many are asking how to use the concept of the “Enterprise IoT” to leverage the data in their buildings and find opportunities for improvement.
Enterprise IoT can be defined as the many sensors that produce data within a smart building’s infrastructure. Physical objects such as wireless sensors within lighting, HVAC or security systems have embedded computing capabilities that, when connected to a central system, can result in operational efficiencies and reductions in energy.
The beauty of Enterprise IoT is that devices such as light fixtures are no longer simply light fixtures. “We do not see light as a binary function device anymore, but as a node for data communication that can help facility managers and building owners learn more about their energy usage,” says Ben Pouladian, president of Deco Lighting, a provider of lighting fixtures and systems. Lighting tends to be the first area on which organizations focus when beginning to implement wireless controls.
The next area on which companies tend to focus is HVAC. With a wireless control system monitoring activity, energy managers may find they are blasting the AC in specific areas, or even in the whole building, when it is not occupied, for example. Next generally comes a system for analyzing plug loads, allowing the company to look at all the machines in a facility, including printers, copiers, or heavier machinery that are plugged into outlets. Many of these stay on all day, every day, even when nobody is using the machine.
“This is the low-hanging fruit, the area where most enterprises begin,” says Mandeep Khera, vice president of marketing and channels for Daintree Networks, a provider of smart building control and operation solutions. “From a pure energy savings point of view, these are the biggest three. However, none of these exist in a vacuum. They may be the obvious places to start, but remember to consider how the systems will build upon each other in the future.”
Noah Goldstein, research director with Navigant, offers another suggestion: while lighting, HVAC and plug load may be the obvious first steps, think before you start, he says. “You want your retrofit to fit into a general energy management strategy. Don’t just think, ‘lights first, then we’ll finish and move onto HVAC.’ Think about your 10-year energy plan and then make decisions about your retrofits that fit into that plan.”
The integration of systems, as well as integration of communications between the various groups involved within an organization, is necessary when planning for the long-term and beginning to take action, says Goldstein. Such integration of plans and communication are seldom borne of the C-suite, he says. Facility and energy managers may need to take the reins in order to move these plans along.
5 Elements to Consider when Creating a Long-term Energy Plan
–Compliance: As environmental concerns intensify, building owners and corporations must carefully scrutinize their energy management and monitoring solution to ensure it fully complies with all mandates and regulations. All states in the US are working toward introducing legislation that will require buildings meet ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings).
–Wireless: Wireless control solutions have the capability to transform a building into a connected, intelligent facility that responds automatically to various needs. Making use of Enterprise IoT requires wireless systems, as the sheer number of wired devices would make their integration impossible.
–Open standards: By choosing open standard-based control systems, organizations provide themselves with the ability to easily upgrade to other related devices. The flexibility of open standards provides the ability to add new devices into the existing control system.
–Operational efficiencies: Using the actionable data provided by Enterprise IoT can result in an endless variety of operational efficiencies. Think about peak time usage: most utilities are now using a demand response fee structure, charging higher rates during peak times. For utility customers who aren’t looking closely at their data and not shedding loads, they may be wasting a significant amount of money on energy.
–Reporting: More and more facility managers in commercial and industrial buildings have been rolling out building energy management systems (BEMS) which are able to take advantage of Enterprise IoT, and as they do so, they are searching for better and easier ways to analyze and make use of the information that they are now able to gather. When investigating BEMS, look beyond dashboards and graphs to see whether enhanced analytics are easy to access and read.
As companies start thinking about integrating wireless systems, they need to begin pushing vendors and suppliers, recommends Goldstein. “Be proactive. Tell them, ‘I want an integrated system rather than what you’ve got on the shelf.’ I think if vendors are pushed and they know it’s something they can sell, they will develop and supply it.”
As you begin working on your long-term energy management goals, become well versed on the IT side of facility management. Work with IT to ensure the underlying technology is capable of being deployed across all building types and spaces. The IoT network infrastructure must also be sufficiently pervasive in and around the building to ensure devices can be added easily, both during initial deployment and later during expansion, without requiring significant support.
For more detailed information on the Enterprise Internet of Things, and how it can improve energy management, download the free report from Daintree Networks.