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THAN 45 MODELS BY A VARIETY OF MANUFACTURERS HAVE EARNED THE DESIGNATION.
fan of the broader term “big data” applied
to these analytics solutions because the
data alone without significant knowledge
of building systems will be inadequate.
A supplier needs to understand what the
data means for the building and make
appropriate recommendations. Of course,
the intelligence and cost of the solutions
also vary widely.
What specifically should an owner
look for in analytics solutions and
Data sufficiency and resiliency are important. Sufficiency means a solution must
provide and/or access enough data to do
the job. Analysts rely first on data from
existing sources, including BAS, CMMS
and meters, plus external sources like utility databases. New sensors and data points
can be added to a building, but there is a
cost for such installations.
Building a sufficient and effective data
architecture requires a wide range of expertise with technology, data communications, IT and computer systems. Analysts
must also apply business process experience and conduct ongoing communication
and coordination with client teams.
Once enough data is available for
analysis, then it is critical for providers
to ensure that data resiliency is good, in
other words, that the flow of data is not
interrupted. The analytics software is
relying on information supplied through
other systems rather than its own independent network of sensors.
Building changes – such as tenant im-
provements, new equipment or commu-
nication devices, and IT
updates – may disrupt
the flow of data, a situa-
tion that building opera-
tors may not recognize.
The analytics system
should be capable of
and raising an alert for
What should the analytics solution
do with the data?
The solution should deliver a robust
set of rules or algorithms that constantly
analyze data to find opportunities for
efficiency, comfort, safety and predictive
maintenance. Ideally, the algorithms are
tailored to specific buildings as well as
customers, who can add more rules as
Robust solutions also incorporate effective software planning tools that both list
recommendations and prioritize them.
Not all solutions are able to prioritize and
reprioritize recommendations as a building changes.
What is involved in tweaking these
solutions after the initial installation?
Fine-tuning is critical to analytics. The
solution provider should be steadily learning more about your building and applying
that knowledge by monitoring new data
points and creating new rules. It’s a process that evolves over time. Owners should
evaluate the track record of prospective
suppliers in terms of their ability and commitment to such fine-tuning.
BUILDINGS editor Chris Olson talked
recently with Jack McGowan, principal of
The McGowan Group, about the benefits
of building analytics. McGowan’s sixth
book, Energy and Analytics: Big Data and
Building Technology Integration for the
21st Century, will be published this year by
Fairmount Press. He will be a speaker at
the Haystack Connect Conference and at
What is building analytics and what
are the benefits to building owners?
In a nutshell, it’s the interconnection
of identifiable devices in order to extract
data from them for analysis. In the case
of facilities, it is the interconnection
of identifiable devices in heating, air
conditioning, lighting and other energy-intensive building systems. Sophisticated
analytics software is used to evaluate the
data from the systems and provide new
insights that can improve operations and
reduce energy costs.
A recent example of the benefit is a 1.3
million-square-foot cancer center that is
monitoring some 36,000 BAS data points
in labs, offices and operating rooms. The
solution has resulted in energy savings
of $1.7 million annually. At that rate, the
owner’s payback on the analytics investment is less than seven months.
How can a building owner evaluate
analytics solutions from different
Facility analytics requires know-how
about buildings as well as data, software
and connectivity. That’s why I am not a
Evaluating Building Analytics Solutions
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researchers at Nanyang Technological University have created a smart
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