As the energy crisis in Europe continues, the European Union has narrowly avoided rolling blackouts on the electric grid. However, Bloomberg reports that “electricity prices have surged again to crisis levels [adding] to growing concerns about the loss of industrial competitiveness and the potential for companies to relocate.”
In this post in our energy crisis series, I share our third recommended emergency measure to help immediately reduce facility energy consumption and costs.
The battle to overcome the energy crisis is far from over. Organizations must use every strategy and tool available to help meet the European Commission’s energy reduction proposals, comply with local regulations, and keep operational costs under control through this winter and beyond. Energy efficiency is the only means to overcome this challenge, and fortunately, proven solutions are available today.
The next step in efficiency: optimizing with analytics and digital services
A metering and energy management system delivers data to uncover inefficiencies, help reduce consumption, and control peak demand. Building management system (BMS) automation and services will further help you optimize HVAC performance.
But there is still more you can do.
Energy analytics and digital services present further opportunities to optimize your buildings’ operational and energy performance to achieve “just needed” energy consumption levels while maintaining a healthy and comfortable environment.
Today’s BMS apps include HVAC health monitoring, providing insights from connected energy meters, air quality sensors, or other building equipment. You can augment this with remote, 24/7 digital advisory services using cloud-based platforms to securely acquire data from IoT-enabled devices, power management systems, or a BMS. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools are integrated to extract critical efficiency and reliability insights across all building equipment and systems, identifying gaps and improvement actions.
Insights uncover more opportunities to save
Analytic apps and digital services offer tools, including real-time dashboards with key performance indicators, reports, real-time status, alarms, and behavior prediction. Your facility teams can access this data from anywhere, while remote digital service teams can help support your on-site staff with additional expertise.
The cloud-based advisory platform used by digital services creates a digital twin of your building assets and systems. This enables continuous, automated diagnostics to monitor and detect any performance anomalies. This helps reveal equipment interactions and determine the potential impact on energy consumption, comfort, or maintenance.
Here are just some benefits of analytic tools and digital services support:
- Ensure a solid baseline for energy and cost data: Keep electricity, gas, and other region-specific tariffs or information current with cost calculations in place.
- Integrate weather data: Predict changes in building performance based on weather conditions to optimize your BMS accordingly.
- Identify building issues with BMS alarms and reports: Detect and address configuration errors and issues that waste energy, such as leaking valves, dampers stuck open, systems running off-hours, and more.
- Optimize control and performance strategies: Automate checks to ensure ventilation, pressure, temperature, and humidity comply with each tenant’s or zone’s needs; maintain airflow for indoor air quality while minimizing energy use in unoccupied areas (e.g., with variable speed drives); and optimize heating hot water systems, as examples.
- Add connected devices: Get expert advice on adding more energy submetering, indoor air quality, occupancy, or other sensors to optimize monitoring and control and occupant well-being.
- Continuously improve: Optimize building and energy performance while maintaining the gains you have achieved.
- Do more with less: Augment your team: For organizations facing the retirement of experienced personnel, these new digital solutions can be like having a team of expert engineers on staff, identifying and prioritizing opportunities, and helping your facility teams work more efficiently.
Accelerating efficiency delivers accelerated payback
These digital solutions can be implemented relatively quickly. For example, if you are using EcoStruxure™ Building Operation as your BMS, the first level of cloud-based monitoring and dashboards can be enabled within days. Stepping up to digital services, our EcoStruxure Building Advisor platform can be configured with a complete digital twin within a matter of weeks, depending on the building size and scope of equipment.
You can also expect the return on investment on these solutions to be quick, based on our estimate of a commercial building of 10,000 m2 with a consumption of 180 kWh per m2/year. Energy savings of 10 to 20% are typical. And since HVAC consumption can represent up to 40% or more of total energy costs, the extreme rise in energy costs in Europe means that what may have been a pre-crisis payback period of one year might now only be four months.
Proofpoint: Schneider Electric’s Paris headquarters, “The Hive”
Schneider Electric is responding to the energy crisis with a plan that supports France’s EcoWatt charter by reducing energy consumption by 10% and shedding or shifting loads to avoid demand peaks when required.
Enabled by integrated EcoStruxure solutions, the indoor temperature at this Schneider Electric building has been reduced a few degrees, with ventilation and heating start times adjusted. Hot water to washroom taps is cut between May and November, with hours of ventilation reduced. The kitchen lighting and ventilation schedule is optimized. Corridor lighting is reduced from 100% to between 40 and 70%, and car park lighting hours are reduced. And all employees have been encouraged to take additional steps.
In total, electricity consumption has been reduced by almost 300 MWh per year. The facility can also automate responses to EcoWatt peak period alerts, reducing demand by more than 500 kW by controlling heating and ventilation, limiting or shifting EV charging, and more.
Our experts deliver deep insights into building performance, helping you make better data-driven decisions to minimize energy consumption and demand while keeping buildings comfortable, healthy, and productive.