5 Use Cases for Whole Building Interval Data

Amy Hou  |  March 23, 2018  |  Energy & Sustainability  

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This blog post is an excerpt from the eBook, Beyond Bill Data: Refining Your Energy Management Program with Building Interval Data.

If your organization is like most, your energy management initiatives probably consist of collecting, analyzing and understanding consumption and costs at the monthly bill level. Bill data is the logical place to start because it’s readily available and something to which your organization already has access.

However, integrating whole building interval data can improve your energy management program by introducing a level of granularity that utility bill data cannot provide.

With that in mind, here are five ways you can use whole building interval data to improve your energy management program.

#1 Operational Improvements

You can use the insight provided by interval data to make several operational improvements to the buildings in your portfolio.

Using performance comparisons to identify inefficiencies

Pinpointing areas of inefficiency becomes much easier when you can compare performance metrics and do so in near real-time, and whole building interval data allows you to do just that. Consider comparing day-to-day performance, week-to-week performance, like day-to-like day performance (e.g. Monday to Monday), weekday vs. weekend performance or holiday use patterns. Comparing these metrics as they occur, rather than 45+ days after as is the case when using bill data only, improves your ability to identify the root cause of any anomalies (or inefficiencies in general) and implement a solution to resolve the situation faster.

Identifying peaks to better manage demand

Your demand charge is based on the highest amount of energy the building consumes during the day, and this charge can account for a large portion of your monthly utility bill. Viewing energy use down to 15 to 60 minute intervals can help pinpoint times of peak consumption. In turn, you can use this knowledge to take action to reduce these demands, for instance by implementing programs that incentivize certain employee behaviors.

Comparing energy use to operating schedules to ensure proper equipment run times

Building interval data can also help you easily match up various schedules to make sure you have the most cost-effective operating model in place. For instance, many organizations find that they can save on energy costs by shifting discretionary operations to off-peak times. Let’s say you’re a manufacturer. As much as possible, you can schedule your most energy-intensive operations during off-peak hours, such as nights or weekends. It’s important to note: You’ll need whole building interval data in order to monitor your operations and ensure that they continue to run only on nights or weekends.

Setting smarter alerts to bring high value information to light faster

Once you’re able to collect detailed interval data, you can set smart alerts based on this data. Specifically, you can use software to push relevant information to users regularly as well as to push alerts about anomalies in order to call attention to high value information as it becomes available. David Krinkel, founder of Energyai®, notes a recent example. A small municipal building was alerted by the Energyai service that a load was not dropping in the evening as expected. After investigating, the culprit was identified as a malfunctioning rooftop unit, running continuously. “Thanks to the smart alert, the problem was quickly identified and easily fixed,” said Krinkel.

#2 Goal Setting and Tracking

Interval data provides a more detailed understanding of operational patterns. In turn, this detail allows you to set more specific and meaningful goals and more accurately track your efforts toward attaining those goals. For example, building interval data not only makes it easier to identify areas for improvement, but it also provides the context you need to determine how to make the necessary improvements. This insight allows you to set goals that will make a difference in your overall energy use and that you can realistically achieve. Once you set those goals, interval data also provides the necessary information to back up your recommendations in pitches to executives and to track your efforts along the way to properly demonstrate progress and achievements to key stakeholders.

#3 Planning Effective Energy Initiatives

In addition to improving your ability to set and track goals, the more detailed insight provided by interval data can also help you launch more effective energy initiatives. That’s because the more detailed data you have about building performance, the more specific areas for improvement you can identify. In other words, the level of detail provided by building interval data allows you to be more strategic in the projects you choose and more effective in executing those initiatives. This detailed data can also help better validate savings on already-completed projects and develop plans to take advantage of more cost-effective sources of energy, such as solar panels or energy storage devices.

#4 Occupant Engagement

Because interval data provides such actionable insight, you can use it to more clearly communicate to occupants efforts they can take to reduce energy consumption. The more specific recommendations you can provide occupants and the more closely you can tie those recommendations to desired outcomes, the more likely they will be to respond positively. However, it’s extremely difficult to provide those specifics when relying on utility bill data alone, given that bill data lacks granularity and is already outdated by the time it becomes available.

With building interval data, though, you can easily attain the level of granularity necessary to make very specific recommendations to occupants. Equally as important, interval data will be timely enough that you can make these recommendations quickly (which is important if recommended changes are seasonal) and share feedback with occupants about the impact of their efforts to encourage them to continue.

#5 Energy Budget Management

Interval data can also improve energy budget management by making it easy to validate bills and manage tariffs.

Bill validation

In some cases, your building’s submeters can over- or underreport energy consumption, and this faulty data will impact your bill. These inaccurate readings can occur if you have third party submeters installed and the aggregate data from these submeters doesn’t match what the main, building-level meter reports. In this case, you can use whole building interval data to reconcile the differences and ensure your consumption data – and therefore your utility bill – is accurate.

Tariff management

Each type of building (residential, commercial, industrial) has its own unique load profile (demand levels, rate schedules, etc.), and utilities have created different tariffs for different types of buildings as a result. Choosing the right tariff based on your building’s load profile can make a significant difference in terms of costs. Interval data can help you make an educated decision about tariffs by making it easy to break down demand over the course of a day.

So, for example, if you find that your building has low demand during peak hours, switching to a time-of-use tariff could lead to savings. And for those buildings in deregulated markets, you can even use this data to determine if there are any utility providers that offer tariffs that are more advantageous to your needs and go directly to the grid to make a provider switch.

You can download the full eBook here. To read more about our capabilities in accessing whole building interval data without installing submeters, visit our Utility Interval Data product page.

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About Amy Hou

Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.