How monitoring energy usage on commercial buildings can reduce energy costs
Operational expenses play a significant role in the profitability of a commercial business. One major expense is the energy cost of running a commercial building. From lighting vast spaces to running machinery, energy costs can quickly escalate.
With energy monitoring, commercial businesses gain a better understanding of their consumption patterns. This can reveal opportunities for saving costs, allowing for an increase in profits.
This blog explains monitoring energy use commercial buildings and highlights the benefits of energy monitoring.
What is energy monitoring?
Energy monitoring is the process of observing and recording the energy consumption of a building. Monitoring energy use is a proactive management process to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.
Monitoring energy use in commercial buildings can be done with energy management software. This software collects and analyses vast amounts of energy data, providing actionable insights to drive energy efficiency in your business.
What energy challenges do commercial buildings face?
Commercial buildings face a variety of energy challenges. They often need large lighting systems and special machinery, which increases energy use. They may also need constant energy, leading to higher energy consumption and costs.
Older commercial buildings come with a unique set of challenges. They might have outdated systems or lack energy-efficient infrastructure, resulting in higher energy consumption.
There are changing regulations around Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MESS) for non-domestic buildings in the UK. Currently, all non-domestic buildings need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E. This is pushing commercial buildings to improve their energy efficiency.
There is also a global push towards increasing sustainability. This means commercial buildings need to reduce wasteful energy consumption to align with consumer expectations and meet environmental goals.
What benefits can energy monitoring bring your business?
We highlight the benefits of monitoring energy use commercial buildings:
Identify wasted energy
With the help of monitoring, it becomes easier to spot inefficiencies. Whether it’s an area that’s being over-lit or machinery that’s draining more power than it should, these can be quickly identified. Addressing these inefficiencies directly translates to savings.
Make data-driven decisions
With the help of energy management software, building owners can delve deep into energy data. This information can guide future investments, showing where the best returns can be made in terms of energy savings.
Improve employee awareness
Employees play a pivotal role in energy consumption. Encouraging employees to follow simple energy-saving tips can result in significant savings.
By having an energy monitoring system in place, it reinforces the importance of being energy conscious. Employees can see firsthand the effects of their actions, promoting a more energy-aware culture.
Top energy management tips for multi-site organisations
For organisations 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.
We share a series of energy management tips to help you achieve effective and consistent energy management across your organisations:
Ensure targets are set at both building and group-wide level
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 can be due to factors such as location, occupancy, and weather. Building benchmarking and normalised reporting will help in this regard but it’s important to be aware of these variables.
Setting building-specific and group-wide policies will ensure everyone is aware of what needs to be achieved for each building. This will allow managers to compare that data to the overall building and group policies to understand individual building or group-wide energy performance.
Consolidate your data
The challenge for many organisations operating commercial buildings is bringing the numerous data points together for a consistent, holistic view of energy activity.
By using energy monitoring software, all those data points can be connected to and communicated with. Instead of data being disconnected, it flows directly into the energy monitoring software. The information could then be displayed on a straightforward dashboard or compiled into comprehensive reports for analysis.
Having energy monitoring software is essential as it allows for accurate and scalable building benchmarking and normalised 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 (known as energy auditing).
Building benchmarking is achieved through normalisation/normalised reporting. Normalised reporting is a statistical technique that considers certain variables (such as weather, occupancy, productivity, building size, and 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.
A widely used approach in conjunction with normalised 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, as well as understand the impact of energy conservation measures (ECM).
Use automated reporting
Manual reporting is prone to human error and inconsistency, both of which can influence the results of your energy performance reports.
With energy monitoring software, you can easily 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.
Automated reporting also allows for 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. Such an approach will ensure that you and your organisation are aware of the latest developments and can quickly react to changes or potential energy-saving opportunities.
Use a scalable energy management solution
You need to ensure that you choose an energy management solution that meets your organisation’s needs and can scale with your expanding operations. This might mean the ability to choose what modules you want or the ability to use it anywhere at any time. A scalable energy management solution will ensure that you are continuously ensuring energy efficiency in your commercial buildings.
FAQs about monitoring energy use commercial buildings
Get a software demo
To monitor energy in a building, sensors and meters are installed at key points. They track energy use in various areas and equipment. This data is then sent to energy management software, where it is analysed to identify patterns and areas of energy inefficiency.
Heating and cooling systems generally use the most energy in commercial buildings, with lighting close behind. Other significant energy consumers include machines, computers, and elevators. Monitoring energy use can show what’s using the most energy in a particular building.
MRI London offices cut operational costs and improve sustainability with real-time, occupancy-based energy usage
Using data capture and analytics technology, the team at MRI Software’s head UK offices at King Street in London have streamlined energy usage and created a more efficient and flexible workplace, leading to an estimated saving of £20,000 per year.