Every organization is keen to cut the energy costs of the buildings they operate – but few actually have monitoring tools and infrastructure in place to facilitate the delivery of information that will enable them to do so.
At most they know how much they spend and what energy they use but beyond that, little else is considered; the intricacies of energy usage, overall performance and energy productivity never come up.
For any organization looking to cut the energy costs of its commercial building(s), the first step is understanding just how much energy is being used – in essence, having an energy monitoring strategy.
But how can organizations achieve efficient building energy monitoring? What needs to be done? In this blog, we’ll share five steps to achieve efficient energy monitoring.
Step #1: Create energy policies and objectives
Before the implementation of any kind of holistic energy management software, you need to first set detailed energy saving policies and objectives to determine a plan for improving energy performance across the specified commercial buildings.
What does the organization want to achieve? Reduce energy consumption by 3-5% year on year? Improve energy productivity by 5-10% by 2019/20? Either way, outlining and documenting aims and objectives will ensure that energy managers, directors and stakeholders are aware of the objectives and held accountable.
Having agreed on the energy policies and objectives, you can then devise a plan to achieve these targets. Of course, before deploying the plan of action, understanding energy consumption and performance across the enterprise is vital. Most organizations have solutions in place to capture energy data but are those solutions connected to provide an end-to-end view of energy consumption across the enterprise?
At this juncture, some form of energy management software (EMS) to connect data points across the enterprise and energy conservation measures (ECMs) must be put in place to help provide enterprise-wide visibility and reduce energy consumption.
Step #2: Implement your plan
The next step in achieving efficient building energy monitoring is implementing a plan based on the policies and objectives – but rather than applying it across all of your commercial buildings at the offset, run a test phase or ‘pilot’ scheme across a few buildings.
Think of it as a trial run. Use it as an opportunity to determine just how effective the energy reduction and performance improvement plans are and whether your energy saving policies and objectives are feasible.
For example, implement energy conservation measures, such as replacing the building’s traditional lighting system with more energy efficient LED lighting, across a few buildings to see if it reduces energy consumption.
The result is lower upfront expenditure (as the plan is only applied to a few buildings) and rapid identification of what works. As you continue to improve and complete your plan, utilizing the data obtained from your test sites, you can deploy the finished plan across the other commercial buildings using a ‘lift and shift’ model. This systematic and scalable approach will allow rapid replication of the positive results achieved at the test sites, as well as creating building benchmarks to essentially compare your buildings relative to others.
Step #3: Develop actionable reports
When it comes to your building’s energy monitoring and reporting – it’s vital that to report on the most valuable and actionable metrics to the business. The problem is that while most organizations have data loggers and systems across commercial buildings to capture energy usage, performance and consumption data – instead of filtering the information and extracting the most actionable parts, it is all compiled into a single large and very complex report.
But to effectively achieve efficient energy monitoring for your commercial building, you need to focus on the energy metrics that matter. Prioritise the metrics that can be utilized by your business to help meet energy policies and objectives, as well as improve energy performance, rather than those that only show the current state of the building but offer no insight to how you got there or what to do next.
For example, reporting on things like cost per unit of energy, energy productivity or total energy consumption across your commercial buildings, will provide a better understanding of overall energy performance.
As you continue to compile more actionable reports and present them in a manner that allows energy managers, project managers, directors and shareholders to digest the information easily, more and more people within your organization will buy into the process and support you in driving down energy consumption.
Step 4: Determine the correct approach
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to effective energy monitoring as every building is different. What works for one might not necessarily be applicable to another. For example, a small organization operating just a single commercial building might want to quickly deploy energy conservation measures as a short-term strategy, whereas a large organization operating multiple commercial buildings might want to use one of its buildings as a test site, deploying several energy saving measures, to see what works and if the strategy can be utilized at other sites over the long term.
What’s important, however, is to determine the approach that best fits with your organization’s requirements, resource, budget, and the needs of your commercial building. All of these elements are key in any successful energy management or energy saving project, so it’s vital that you consider them equally.
Make sure that energy policies and objectives are established from the beginning. Energy management solutions can help you with the monitoring of your building’s energy but laying a strong foundation will ensure that you are able to develop plans to reach your objectives.
If you are wondering what energy metrics you should be looking at and want to develop more insightful and actionable reports, why not download our eBook by clicking the button below?