The Internet of Things (IoT) has been one of the biggest buzzwords in energy management for 2017. Over the past year, we’ve seen new IoT energy monitoring capabilities along with new strategies to manage these systems.
When connected devices to facilitate energy management services and processes began emerge two years ago, the possibilities seemed endless. At the time, market researchers predicted we could have 925 million smart meters, 2.54 million smart lights, and 1.53 billion utility-managed connected devices globally by 2020.
Despite all the promise, hurdles to adopting smart building technologies remain. Earlier this year a UK survey sponsored by the Electrical Contractors’ Association, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, and a Scottish electrical trade group called SELECT surveyed consultants, engineers, end users, facilities managers, and local authorities about the IoT and smart buildings. The survey found that 40% of respondents were unfamiliar with the term “the Internet of Things.”
More than half of the survey respondents cited a lack of clear advice and knowledge as a barrier to installing internet-connected tech in their buildings. Other challenges, which the Internet of Things Institute outlined, include piecemeal proprietary legacy building management systems, unclear upgrade paths, security concerns, and inflated expectations.
During the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference and Energy Manager Summit, Sphera Solutions president and CEO Paul Marushka gave a keynote address focused on IoT. He shared data showing that building a business case and funding are two of the top challenges for investing in IoT.
This year IoT for energy management was put to the test. During the conference in June, Marushka shared an IoT case study from Houston-based energy delivery company CenterPoint Energy. Using a smart environmental management system reduced the time required for their greenhouse gas emissions reporting from several months to two weeks. Automated alerts about permit limits helped mitigate the risk of noncompliance while tools like electronic flow meters provided data that previously needed to be manually typed.
“In years past, we couldn’t get real-time data,” Marushka told attendees. “Now, companies are aggregating high-frequency data. So you can manage it, analyze it, and report it.”
In August, Engineering.com reported that a LEED Platinum facility called Sustainability Base at NASA’s Ames Research Center had started beta testing an IoT energy management system from Verdigris Technologies. “[It] uses clamp-on current sensors to detect individual devices turning on and off, and a sophisticated signal processing algorithm that identifies the device and analyzes its electrical ‘signature’ to detect potential faults.”
LEDs Magazine reported in November that LA-based commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE planned to begin testing IoT lighting from Gooee in its Amsterdam office next year. Gooee’s smart, connected lights can detect how many people are in a room, and feed information into analytics that show energy use for the building.
Beyond the commercial sector, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for manufacturing and industrial facilities is expected to expand in the future.
Last year, Real Clear Markets’ David Drake pointed to what the IIoT could do for industrial manufacturing, mining as well as oil and gas companies. “By simply placing sensors on industrial water pumps and connecting them to the internet, you can optimize the flow volume to generate thousands of dollars in energy savings from just one standard 100 horsepower industrial pump,” he wrote.
In November, Navigant Research predicted that revenue from annual global shipments of IIoT devices would grow $129.3 billion in 2027. “IIoT supports the transformation of a business so it can offer customers enhanced services and improved experiences,” the report says. The technology, Navigant Research says, can help increase worker safety while reducing component and data management costs.
Mark your calendars: The 3rd Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 15 – 17, 2018 in Denver. Learn more here.