Building owners and facility managers are continually monitoring building conditions while trying to balance performance and occupant comfort with the cost of running a building efficiently. It’s an important balancing act. Efficiency is important but it cannot come at the expense of comfort, which can impact a person’s productivity and health, as well as overall tenant retention and rental rates.
Fortunately, there are many opportunities for improvement in commercial buildings. Implementing a building energy management system (BEMS) with a partner that understands the importance of building performance and efficiency can help transform a building into an asset through cost reduction, greater efficiency and ongoing improvement.
Critical steps to achieving positive building system results include using data to evaluate how a building and its systems are performing, formulating a prioritized plan for improvement based on that insight, and then validating that solutions are working as they should.
Seek Broad Expertise
Shrinking budgets, limited staff resources, increasing energy efficiency and sustainability demands, and occupant expectations are among the challenges that commercial property owners and facility managers know all too well. The ability to find performance-enhancing solutions is more important than ever to help meet these goals and positively impact the bottom line.
When choosing a BEMS solution, there are many software options and service providers to consider. Going beyond a software-only solution and leveraging the expertise of a provider that also acts as a partner helps drive better outcomes and uncovers more opportunities for greater improvements. An experienced BEMS provider can take a holistic view of the building to help facility managers and building executives determine their priorities and critical areas within a building — including key performance indicators (KPIs) related to energy efficiency and occupant comfort — to develop and implement an improvement plan to fit specific needs, situations and budgets.
Having the right partner helps turn building data into actionable intelligence and monetize any improvements planned for the building — detailing not only the cost of the improvements but also the potential savings and return on investment of that expense. Beyond using building data to help identify those possible improvements, a partner can also help prioritize those improvements based on the KPIs and short-term, mid-range and long-term goals of facility managers and owners.
Implementing innovative solutions, such as thermal energy storage, renewable energy technologies or demand response solutions, is also a possibility when working with a partner who brings a broad range of industry expertise and capabilities to the table.
Beyond looking for demand-side reductions of energy use, opportunities for savings can also be found by looking at the energy supply side in many commercial properties or portfolios. Some BEMS providers bring expertise to both sides of the equation. They can find opportunities for improvement in how a building is using energy and can also analyze how energy is procured for the building to find solutions for reducing costs.
Determining KPIs, creating a plan for improvement and choosing a partner to help with implementation and prioritization are just the beginning. The next step is following up with an execution plan and ongoing validation of the results. This evaluation helps yield continued improvements and savings — and ensures the right building data is being harnessed to improve performance.
A BEMS solution provides performance data not only to make a case for implementing the plan but also the information to validate against KPIs to measure and demonstrate the return on investment once the project is implemented. Demonstrating the success of project improvements can be critical for ensuring continued ongoing financial support of the plan — and for gaining support for any future improvements.
The follow-up and validation required may be harder to execute with software- or technology-only solutions. Working through the process with a partner offers more robust ongoing support and analysis. A partner also brings deep expertise in conducting continuous evaluation and can tailor the process for specific buildings and situations. Facility managers and building owners should make sure to balance the cost of the validation with the scale of the project.
Uncover the Opportunities
Technology can provide insights and analysis of building performance. However, the knowledgeable people and expertise of a BEMS partner are what turn that information into action — for even greater improvements.
Having the right technology and expertise can provide insights that positively impact business goals. Consider working with a BEMS partner that can take a holistic view of building systems and performance and has the expertise to tie building performance back to critical outcomes for the results that matter most in commercial facilities — operational savings, satisfied occupants, reduced complaint calls and energy efficiency.
Matt Gates is the director of Intelligent Services Offers for Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort solutions and services and a brand of Ingersoll Rand. He manages a portfolio of building energy management systems (BEMS) solutions and leads the efforts to commercialize new and differentiated Intelligent Services offers for North America. Over the course of Matt’s 11 years with Ingersoll Rand, he has held the positions of vice president of energy management services – global services, vice president of contracting solutions – global services, direct sales leader and contracting solutions leader for Trane’s central territory.