Looking at any system from a high-level and as a whole is usually the best way to get to know its key drivers. Individual buildings and portfolios of buildings are no different. While the idea of a quick and remote data analysis to assess energy performance of whole buildings is alluring, actually extracting information for business decisions this way has been a near impossibility. Commercial buildings are just too rife with idiosyncrasies and well-hidden features, and the people that run and occupy them are difficult to predict from afar too. Yet, perhaps even these challenges are surmountable because new analytics options for assessing whole building energy performance are arriving from every direction. Here is a list to help you sort the field:
- Model-Based Building Performance Analysis tools that have evolved as extensions of building information modeling (BIM) tool suites familiar to architects, engineers and contractors
- Meter and Sensor-Based Remote Building Performance Analytics coming from new ‘Big Data’ start-ups that are being packaged into Utility-run energy efficiency programs
- Model-Based Building Performance Diagnostics that productize the latest Building Science emerging from university programs and research organizations
- Real-time Operational-Data-Based Building Performance Diagnostics that plug directly into Building Management Systems (BMS) to gather data and are thus more of an extension of Building Automation and Control
The value of the recommendations for Energy Efficiency Measures (ECMs) output by any of these tool categories is inevitably compared to the recommended ECMs that come from conventional engineering calculation approaches. The need to speed up and automate energy assessment is great today with the market for energy benchmarking, energy audits, energy savings estimates, new construction and retrofit commissioning and related activities growing fast. With the talent pool of building energy experts limited, there is a lot riding on the promise of automation and many companies are entering into the fray. Click on the links above to learn more about each category of software now being offered for quickly finding the best opportunities for operational savings across a whole building or portfolio. Questions to ask when reviewing offerings include:
- How does the solution integrate with multiple building automation system platforms?
- Can the assessment method scale across the targeted portfolio?
- What activities are cloud-based versus on-site?
- How does the solution handle the various human-factor facets of the challenge?
- Will the software offer design upgrade suggestions like changes to the building envelope and lighting design?
As building commissioning expert, Matt Schwartz of Altura Associates says, “It’s not so much about crunching ‘Big Data,’ as it is about crunching the Right Data.” But don’t spend too much time analyzing before diving in because, by tomorrow, each of these categories will have evolved and merged in ways we haven’t thought of yet.