A recent MarketsandMarkets analysis projects that the building automation system marketplace will exceed $121 billion by 2024. The evolving sophistication and affordability of a new generation of building analytics tools is an important growth driver that will help to achieve that number.
Incorporating modern data analytics into building management is like having two or three seasoned senior programmers working behind the scenes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, evaluating both external data (like utility rates and weather statistics) and the data that the building management system (BMS) generates. No human being could achieve such labor-intensive work in a timely enough fashion to produce adequate responses to fast-moving building infrastructure changes.
Clients that have grown accustomed to working within the confines of traditional building automation systems don’t realize the new levels of building performance optimization and associated cost savings that can be achieved through AI-driven building analytics. As a Schneider Electric Master-level EcoXpert, our company Wadsworth Solutions, supports building owners and portfolio managers in their efforts to integrate building analytics into their building management practices.
Results: Building analytics saves healthcare provider $21,000/month in energy alone
Using a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to evaluate and correct everyday individual problems (like generating unnecessary expense by heating or cooling an unoccupied room to human comfort levels) is the way facilities managers traditionally operate. However, building analytics are now bringing in an entirely new dimension for determining cause and effect within the holistic system. These tools also help make predictions about how building infrastructure will behave and, ultimately, help determine when failures will occur. This type of data represents a major step forward in helping to avoid unanticipated downtime. Building analytics not only identifies typical problems but are also capable of flagging two or three symptomatic issues, relating them to each other, and, in the process, of identifying what may turn out to be a major problem.
For example, one of our healthcare clients was unaware that his building automation system was simultaneously heating and cooling parts of his facility. The heating and cooling systems were continuously running against each other and canceling each other out. The building analytics package we installed showed how much this discrepancy was costing him in wasted energy consumption. Through the use of analytics, we were able to pinpoint the discrepancies, apply for a tangible cost number, and then take corrective action. As a result, his $30,000 investment in our analytics package saved him $21,000 per month in energy cost avoidance.
Building analytics address human comfort, energy waste, and maintenance
Energy waste is just one area where building analytics provide cost-saving benefits. Human comfort improvements and predictive maintenance also help to boost occupant productivity while minimizing downtime.
In the human comfort area, for example, most commercial building occupants worry about the temperature of the facility. However, the reason building occupants feel too hot or too cold could be a rising humidity issue. Or it could be a technical issue (like a delta T problem across a coil, which results in less than efficient heat exchange). When building analytics reveal such issues, the data serves as an early warning of a comfort issue to come. Instead of waiting for people to complain about an uncomfortable temperature and then making adjustments, building analytics will allow facilities staff to make the proper adjustments and apply the fix before the occupants begin complaining.
Prioritization of issues based on cost
Our building analytics system of choice (which is based on an AVEVA/Schneider Electric solution), automatically categorizes typical building infrastructure events into three buckets—comfort, energy, and maintenance—and prioritizes the issue on a scale of 1 to 10. This simple system allows a facility staff member to then query and determines which of the three affected categories he wants to address first. He bases his decision on data that reveals how much money he is losing (per hour, per day, per month, per year) or the impact on tenant comfort. He also factors in the overall maintenance burden that may be required to address the problem.
The system also dynamically interfaces with some work order systems. The analytics not only identify and quantify the cost of various issues but also allow facilities managers to assign work orders to staff members based on the cost exposure priority (1 to 10) generated by the analytics system.
The open and agnostic nature of the building analytics system also makes it very easy to integrate into existing Building Automation Systems (BAS) systems, regardless of brand. We once integrated our analytics system across five different BAS systems on one college campus. All of these diverse data was channeled into one common database in a simple and straightforward manner.
To learn more about how digitized building automation solutions can activate modernization under an open platform, visit the EcoStruxure™ Building web site. To complement this blog, read Martin Feder’s blog on Gaining Visibility Through Building Analytics or listen to the first episode of the EcoXpert podcast.