How One of the World’s Largest Aquariums Aims to Cut Energy Use by 50%

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The facilities team at Shedd Aquarium, one of the world’s largest aquariums, faces the same kinds of challenges you’d deal with in your building. They’ve got to manage tight environmental controls, keep tenants happy, and deliver significant energy savings.

shedd_aquarium_case_study_display-minExcept in Shedd’s case, the challenges are a little more intense. Built in the 1920s, Shedd houses 32,500+ temperature-sensitive animals native to Philippine coral reefs, the cool Pacific Northwest, and other exotic climates around the world.

All that high-stakes complexity, coupled with an ambitious strategic goal to cut energy use by 50 percent by 2020, compelled the Shedd facilities team to seek detailed visibility and control of their building’s systems.

To achieve that visibility, the Shedd team couldn’t depend on a building management system (BMS) alone. They needed a software tool that provided more than just a snapshot of their current operations and energy use trends. They needed predictive analytics, granular control, and prioritized recommendations.

They needed Building Analytics.

Building Analytics, the unsung hero

november-16-2015-schneider-chicago_0984-edit-minWhile it may not be as high-visibility as solar panels, Building Analytics software is every bit as necessary to achieve Shedd’s 2020 goal. Why? Because it diagnoses the root of the problem, instead of merely identifying the symptoms. Using cloud-based automated diagnostics and artificial intelligence, it pinpoints root causes of energy waste and prioritizes energy, maintenance and comfort issues with recommended actions. That insight goes a long way toward creating significant energy savings in highly complex, critical situations.

Shedd’s BMS now monitors 4,500+ points, covering HVAC zones and air handling equipment, as well as extensive heating and cooling systems. With Building Analytics, each of these points send reports to the cloud every five minutes. The software then models this system’s data and reports back with meaningful analytics, delivering actionable information to the right person at the right time.

Seeing beyond the next crisis

november-16-2015-schneider-chicago_0976-edit-minWith a steady stream of meaningful, actionable information, the Shedd team can shift away from the ‘putting out fires’ reactive maintenance approach and toward a predictive approach that prevents waste and equipment failures before they happen. That way, they can apply a laser focus on energy savings, which they’ll need in order to cut energy use in half and meet their ambitious goals.

What will hindsight look like in 2020?

The bigger picture here is what we talk about when we talk about sustainability. We all know it doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not as simple as installing LED lights and some wind turbines. It’s accomplished through intelligent long-term planning, better-informed decision-making, and making decisions to invest now to continue to see rewards later.

november-16-2015-schneider-chicago_1160-edit-minShedd Aquarium’s case demonstrates the value of putting sustainability into practice. If we fast forward to 2020, I expect the Shedd Aquarium team will truly appreciate their investment. They’ll have cut their energy bill in half, extended their equipment’s lifespan, and be all the more ready for a 2030 goal with even deeper energy savings goals.

Have any questions or comments about introducing analytics software such as Building Analytics into your building? Let me know in the comments. You can also check out the Shedd Aquarium case study here.

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