It’s an exciting time for the building efficiency
industry. With an explosion of new, sophisticated
tools and data sources for monitoring and managing energy use, owners and facility managers
can see the shining destination ahead – a place
where the right dashboard not only gives them
a view into their operations but also the capability to fine-tune building performance and maximize savings.
The technologies behind Energy Management and Information Systems (EMIS)
make managing commercial building energy use – and achieving rapid payback –
easier than ever before. EMIS are the road to get you there.
“A Broad Family of Technologies”
Jessica Granderson, Research Scientist and Deputy Director of the Building
Technology and Urban Systems Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
says that there’s no industry-wide consensus on the precise definition of EMIS.
They are “a broad family of technologies” with a whole-building or portfolio-level
energy tracking and monitoring purpose (like benchmarking and utility analysis
tools and energy information systems) and a system-level focus (building automation systems, fault detection and diagnostic tools, and automated system optimization technologies). The main components are meters, sensors, a communications
gateway that transfers data for storage, and a software-based front end that allows
the user to run reports, conduct diagnostics, and visualize performance, among
other functions, Granderson explains.
EMIS can look different from portfolio to portfolio, but experts agree that the
point is finding the tools that are right for your needs. An EMIS should capture
enough detailed information to let you evaluate if your buildings are operating
with optimal efficiency, making sure to include normalizing factors (i.e. outdoor
temperature, site specifics, a product being generated, etc.), recommends Pat
Lydon, Sustainability Program Manager at Legacy Health in Portland, OR.
Legacy Health has five campuses as well as standalone clinics and other buildings. It focuses on its larger campuses for monitoring energy use. “You have to
identify where the money is going and the critical sites to focus on,” Lydon says,
adding that he goes from “high to low” – starting with the big picture and working
down to the details of each building’s operations.
First, he looks at the energy use index (EUI) for the buildings with ENERGY
STAR’s Portfolio Manager. From there, he studies the energy use of each building
using monthly utility meter data. His dashboard provides utility costs over time for
each site, which he then breaks down into utility costs per square foot over a rolling 12-month period by energy type. “It’s important for an EMIS to be able to do
that – start at a high level then drill down into building level, or, ideally, building
system level,” says Lydon.
The reasons for implementing EMIS are obvious to Lydon. “Consuming less
energy and water means you’re spending less,” he says. “It reduces your operating
costs.” He also notes that the environmental and health consequences of increased
emissions should be of concern to everyone and are particularly meaningful for a
Granderson adds that the continuous visibility and feedback from EMIS provides
insight into operational measures and no-cost/low-cost ways to improve performance.
MEDIAN PRICE OF
EMIS OWNERSHIP IS
$150,000 OR 6 CENTS/
ACCORDING TO A
SURVEY OF BEST
HOW TO START MANAGING
Not sure where to begin? To initiate a
comprehensive energy management
program in your facilities, the Office of
Energy Efficiency of Natural Resources
Canada offers these steps:
■ Develop and approve an energy policy
■ Provide training and actions to raise
knowledge and awareness.
■ Perform energy audits to identify and
■ Develop and implement improvement
■ Implement performance management
systems, including EMIS.