A guide for commercial building operators
Top energy management tips for multi-site organizations
For organizations that operate multiple commercial buildings, getting a top-level view of performance group-wide is fundamental and conducive to the success of any energy reduction strategy. Of course, enterprise-wide visibility is a challenge for many organizations across the globe – often because of different commercial buildings using different tools or software to measure energy performance and consumption or use inconsistent reporting practices.
However, there are things which you and your organization can do to simplify the process of compiling energy reports, as well as get an accurate view of energy performance across the enterprise. In this blog, we’ll share a series of energy management tips to help you achieve effective and consistent energy management.
Ensure targets are set at both building and group-wide level
Before we delve into our other energy management tips, the first thing you need to do is set energy-saving policies and targets at both building and group-wide levels.
Some of your commercial buildings will be more energy efficient than others – this may not come down to a matter of design but because of factors such as location, occupancy, weather. Building benchmarking and normalized reporting will help in this regard but it’s important to be aware of these variables.
So setting building-specific and group-wide policies and objectives will ensure everyone is aware of what needs to be achieved for each building. Then managers, once armed with accurate building benchmark reports with normalized data, can then compare that data to the overall building and group policies and objectives to understand individual building or group-wide performance.
Consolidate your data
Our second top energy management tip? Consolidate your data using energy monitoring software.
The challenge for many organizations operating commercial buildings is bringing the numerous data points together for a consistent, holistic view of energy activity. They all have large amounts of data but often the data is stored in siloes across the enterprise.
However, by using energy monitoring software, all those data points can be connected to and communicated with. Instead of data being disconnected, it could flow directly into the energy monitoring software. The information could then be displayed on a straightforward energy dashboard or compiled into comprehensive reports for analysis.
Having some form of energy monitoring software is essential as it lays the foundation for accurate and scalable building benchmarking and normalized reporting. It also helps to uncover actionable insights through real-time data analysis.
Make sure you can evaluate and compare energy usage across different sites (energy auditing)
Understanding the overall energy use and actual performance of your commercial buildings starts with building benchmarking. Building benchmarking is the process of comparing your building’s energy performance to another or something similar.
Building benchmarking is achieved through normalization/normalized reporting. Normalized reporting is a statistical technique that takes into account certain variables (such as weather, occupancy, productivity, building size, operational status) and other data sets to deliver accurate and unbiased building energy performance results.
For example, if one of your commercial buildings is occupied by 200 people whilst the other is occupied by 100, the energy consumption for one with 200 people will (theoretically) be twice that of the one with 100.
Another example. If one of your commercial buildings is operationally active from 9 AM-5 PM whilst another from 8 AM-6 PM, energy consumption for the building operating from 8 AM-6 PM will be higher than that of 9 AM-5 PM.
A widely used approach in conjunction with normalized reporting for energy performance is regression analysis. Regression analysis is a statistical technique that reliably estimates the dependence of a variable on one or more independent variables. In this instance, the dependent variable is energy consumption, whilst the independent variable could be occupancy, productivity or ambient temperature. Using this approach, you can get a reliable estimate of energy use based on things like weather, occupancy, productivity, and so on, as well as understand the impact of energy conservation measures (ECM).
Of course, the challenge is ensuring all the data is available in the first place – which is precisely why we mentioned data consolidation as our second energy management tip.
Use automated reporting
Rather than run building benchmarks and create normalized reports manually, automate the process. Manual reporting is prone to human error and inconsistency, both of which can influence the results of your energy performance reports.
If you have already consolidated your data using some form of energy monitoring software, you can easily acquire a solution (it may already be part of the software) to automate your reporting process. More sophisticated solutions will allow you to define the energy metrics you want to focus on and the reporting parameters, as well as view your data in cost format so you know how much energy is costing you. Some solutions will offer baseload analysis to highlight energy wastage during out-of-hours periods.
Also, conducting normalized reporting through an energy monitoring solution is simple; you can define the variables within the system, set accurate baseline standards, and analyze the performance of all your sites.
The other benefit of automated reporting is routine, scheduled updates. You can specify the information you would like to be contained in the report, as well as how often the report is produced. Daily, weekly, monthly – an automated solution would be able to deliver your energy performance report as and when you need it. This information can be compiled across your other sites and displayed on a central dashboard for analysis.
Such an approach will ensure that you (and the rest of your organization) are aware of the latest developments and can quickly react to changes or potential energy saving opportunities.
Use a scalable energy management solution
As your commercial buildings are updated and you expand your operations, the energy management solution you use needs to evolve, too. The fundamental issue with most energy management solutions is that they fail to meet the specific needs of many organizations – they either have too many functions or too little, or they can only be used on-site and offer no cloud-based functionality!
Our final energy management tip is to ensure that you find an energy management solution that meets your organization’s needs and has the potential to scale as and when necessary. This might mean the ability to choose what modules you want – whether you need analytics and reporting, billing, dashboards and so on – so you can get the most out of the software, or the ability to use it anywhere at any time as well as on-site.
That concludes our top energy management tips for those with multiple commercial buildings.
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