Tools, Data, Behavior: The Key to Energy Efficiency

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See all GreenBuild 2012 posts.


Over the past several years, we’ve seen collaborative efforts and industry conversations lead to important breakthroughs in creating more energy efficient buildings. That is why I’m thrilled to participate in two important industry events this week: VERGE at Greenbuild and the 2012 Greenbuild Conference and Expo.

Both conferences bring together innovators, entrepreneurs, leaders and experts to illuminate opportunities for technology-based innovations to achieve sustainably designed and operated buildings. These conversations are crucial to addressing the global energy challenge.

Considering that buildings account for up to 40 percent of energy use in most countries, they’re a natural focus for energy conservation efforts. Today’s building managers have a growing list of tools available to help them increase energy efficiency. For example, building managers can install more energy efficient lighting, and streamline and optimize heating and cooling systems. In addition to tools, certification programs like LEED can help guide building owners and facility managers through the initial steps for achieving greater efficiency in their facilities.

While individual tools and standards can go a long way, the impact of managing a building’s energy use through a collection of disparate and fragmented systems is limited. No matter how efficient singular components are, if there isn’t a way to gauge how they’re interacting with other building systems, or measure performance, their impact decreases over time.

Implementing a solution that enables the integration of separate buildings components – such as Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure architecture – is crucial to maximizing building efficiency across the major building systems and services, such as lighting, heating and cooling, access control and security, energy metering and management, power and IT networks, etc. Additionally, Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare software applications and suites enable users to see, measure, and manage efficiency across their entire enterprise, allowing them to continuously monitor and improve overall building performance.

But why is integration and continuous monitoring important to create truly high performance buildings? This approach creates an “Internet of Things,” where all buildings components, along with external information such as weather or grid demand signals, can generate and communicate actionable data to facility managers and building owners. This data, often known as “big data,” is crucial in not only maintaining building efficiency, but identifying opportunities for continuous improvement. For example, we can leverage data on occupancy patterns to reduce IT plug loads in unoccupied areas without impacting worker productivity.

Finally, while using integrated technology to optimize energy use is a powerful way to increase energy efficiency and create truly sustainable buildings, these tools are only useful if facility managers are properly trained to use and leverage the tools, and are regularly maintaining the system. Advances in technology must be accompanied by ongoing training. Without proper use of a system, a building will never reach its maximum efficiency potential.

This week’s events are sure to be rich with conversations and groundbreaking thought leadership around guidelines, tools, data and behavior that will advance energy efficiency in buildings. I encourage you to stop by the Schneider Electric booth (#5117W) at Greenbuild International from November 14-16 to continue the conversation and view some of our new StruxureWare software. I’ll also be speaking on a panel, “Sensors, Appliances and the Coming Internet of Things,” during VERGE at Greenbuild on November 13 at 1:45 p.m. If you’re not attending Greenbuild, you can always find me on Twitter at @melissaomara.


See all GreenBuild 2012 posts.

Learn more about Schneider Electric Green Buildings Solutions.
Melissa O’Mara on Google+


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