This measure consists of a wide variety of software packages and services. There may be over 50 distinct offerings, and they are referred to by a variety of names including: building analytics software, energy information systems, building dashboards, fault detection and diagnostics, ongoing commissioning, and smart building systems. All are designed to accept data from buildings and process that data to inform efforts to improve energy performance. At a minimum, all of these packages accept hourly (or finer resolution) utility billing data.
More sophisticated packages accept additional inputs, such as: data from direct digital control systems; sensor networks that may collect temperature, humidity, and power measurements; and weather data, both historical and projected. They employ a variety of analytical techniques, ranging from human interpretation of graphed data to intricate statistical modeling of building systems. These analyses are intended to produce recommendations to improve building operations. Typical recommendations include turning off specific equipment left on during unoccupied hours, raising chilled water temperature settings to reduce simultaneous heating and cooling, and timing the startup of HVAC equipment.
These software packages and services may be provided in the form of software installed on the building owner’s equipment, software provided as a service over the web, or as a consulting service in which the employees of the vendor operate the software and make recommendations. Energy savings claimed by vendors range from 6% to 30% of overall building energy consumption.
We break down this sector into four distinct offerings types, which are not mutually exclusive. Offerings are listed below in order of relative cost and relative expected energy savings:
Utility bill analysis. Hourly (or finer resolution) utility bill data and weather station data is accepted as input. Using regression analysis, that data is disaggregated into end-uses. Energy consumption is normalized and benchmarked against similar data from other buildings. The analytic system makes recommendations for specific operations improvements based on the benchmarking results. We are aware of only one vendor in this category: FirstFuel Software
Human analysis. Utility bill and other data sources are input. Such inputs may include end-use device power, temperature, humidity, and weather station data. Such data is tracked against a variety of performance metrics, and multiple data streams may be graphed against one another to highlight trends. Human technicians use software to spot trends, identify problems, and recommend solutions. Such software may be operated by onsite facility staff or by specialists trained and employed by the software vendor. Vendors (and product trade names) include: NorthWrite (Energy WorkSite), EnerNOC (PowerTrak), Noveda Technologies (EnergyFlow Monitor), and eSight Energy.
Automated comparison to rules and performance indices. Utility bill and other data sources are input, and the additional data sources described above apply here as well. The software compares processed data to a wide variety of rules and performance indices and makes recommendations based on these comparisons. Such software may be operated by onsite facility staff or by specialists trained and employed by the software vendor. Vendors (and product trade names) include: IFCS (DABO) and Facility Dynamics (Performance And Continuous Re-commissioning Analysis Tool).
Automated comparison to statistical models. Utility bills and other data sources are input. The software compares processed data to statistical models of building performance. Not only are recommendations made to remedy building dysfunctions, but the statistical models may also be used in a predictive manner to produce recommendations for near future operating parameters. Examples of vendors (and product trade names) include: IBM (Intelligent Building Management) and Building IQ.
Some diagnostic tools automate the process of collecting data, predicting energy use, detecting faults with physical systems and helping to diagnose their causes. They are typically installed on the front end of the building's EMCS to help the building operators not only monitor but also diagnose operations within their buildings. Automated diagnostic tools generally use the sensors from the EMCS to assess operational parameters such as air and water flow rates, temperatures and power measurements, to determine whether the system is working properly. If a problem is detected, the FDD tool then sends a report or alarm that notifies the building operator. A few of the tools quantify the energy waste related to specific problems, allowing prioritization of maintenance tasks.