The three legs of energy efficiency

Buildings aren’t Smart. People are.
December 13, 2012
Data visibility drives behavior
December 15, 2012

What’s the problem with Energy Management? Energy dashboards and real time energy monitoring have been touted as the answer to energy efficiency in buildings. I don’t think that the current approach to EMIS has lived up to expectations.

Solutions that concentrate only on energy management are supporting only one leg of a three legged stool. Without all three legs in place, the stool will fall.

Leg 1 – Measuring Energy
Measuring energy is necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve significant energy conservation across our existing building stock. As a business process, we need to measure energy to establish a baseline, understand current consumption and calculate future savings.

Leg 2 – Understanding how energy is consumed or lost in the building
We need to understand how energy is used through direct energy consuming assets or lost through heat losses through the building envelop. Documenting building assets is a critical piece to understanding how these assets are used, maintained, and how they consume energy. Without adequate documentation, current practice is to conduct manual “walk through” energy audits to snapshot assess building equipment and condition.

The availability of better building information, including energy and assets, creates opportunities for energy benchmarking across portfolios, and “virtual walk through” energy audits, which could accelerate energy efficiency efforts.

Leg 3 – Engage people to take action
Buildings don’t use energy, people do. Managing energy efficiency as a business process means we need to create action plans and take action to become more sustainable, all based on quality information about the building. All building stakeholders from building operators to occupants and service contractors influence energy consumption.

Success will come when we stop talking about building energy management, and start talking instead about more sustainable business processes incorporating energy, assets, and people.

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