BUILDINGS ARE NO LONGER simply
energy consumers – they're also genera-
tors and storage points.
Work with Utility Companies to Better
Understand Your Energy Profile
BUILDINGS ARE FAST-BECOMING DYNAMIC ENERGY HUBS
ing energy landscape for not just facilities
managers to navigate, but also utility companies.
“They’re trying to figure out how to understand the implications of those decisions on
the processes they’ve been doing for 100
years, but now that process has fundamentally changed,” says Whitman.
Utility companies, like facilities manag-
ers, are interested in getting to greener
goals through modern techniques like
installing solar panels, battery storage
and electrification, explains Jules Nohra,
senior manager of energy engineering at
“We can get that conversation started
between utilities and the building owners
and look where to make improvements on
their grid,” he says.
When starting a dialogue with your utility
company to better understand your building’s energy profile, consider these points of
You’ll likely have questions about what
you pay for your energy usage, when you
pay it or how much you pay at a time.
“There’s no question that utilities are
2. More Data
behind the curve on rolling out dynamic
rates,” Whitman says. “I think this is one
of the more interesting opportunities for
building owners to get into a dialogue with
It’s important you pay a rate that is logi-
cally in sync with the way you use energy,
what your priorities are and what new tech-
nologies you use.
As utility companies garner access to
more advanced tools, Whitman says facilities
managers and buildings owners should “ask
more” of them. For example, if a company
installs a smart meter in your facility, be sure
to ask what you’re getting from it.
“If you’re not able to see the data from
that building, plus a little interpretation,
then what’s the smart meter doing for you?”
To make advanced energy technology
more attractive, some utility companies have
rolled out incentive programs.
“Not all utilities will have these programs,
but there are a lot of them and a lot of
opportunities that you might be missing if
you’re not talking to your utility company,”
An Open Dialogue
As you begin or continue to consider
implementing advanced energy technologies, keep in mind that you’re altering the
fingerprint of your facilities. You’ll also affect
how it interacts with other points of load in
Whitman and Nohra reiterate that an
open dialogue with your utility company can
help you both navigate a fluctuating energy
Sarah Kloepple (sarah.kloepple@buildings.
com) is a staff writer for BUILDINGS.
As the operation of commercial build- ings becomes more sophisticated, so too do their energy profiles. A
commercial building can act, at any point,
as an energy consumer, energy generator
or energy storage point. Its energy profile
is also vulnerable to instantaneous change,
responding to signals from internal controls
or grid operators.
And as energy efficiency becomes
increasingly important, new technology
aims to save energy costs and carbon emissions.
“There are many different functions that
buildings are now performing in the world,”
says Austin Whitman, vice president of ener-
gy markets at FirstFuel Software. “There was
a time when a building was just a province
of the people who managed it, people who
occupied it. As far as the utility companies
were concerned, a building for a long time
was just something that used energy. You
could predict year to year how much energy
that building would use. Things wouldn’t
change. It was fairly static.”
That’s not the case anymore. Buildings
are far from static, Whitman explains.
“There are an abundance of decisions that
people who are occupying those buildings
are making about how to use energy and
what types of non-traditional energy tech-
nology to invest in.”
Any advanced energy technology added
to a building will change that building’s
energy fingerprint. This poses a challeng-