Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Facility and Load-Centric View of Energy Management is Essential

We have the opportunity of working with many companies in a variety of maturity stages of their corporate energy management program. One recurring observation is the absolute importance of taking a facility and load-centric view when expanding any program.
 While carbon footprint calculation and other sustainability metrics are common across industry and facility types, effective energy management is facility-, load-, and equipment-specific.  Underlying energy loads differ by facility type and purpose.  Lighting is a critical load of big box retailers.  Refrigeration and lighting are top loads for grocery and cold storage firms.  HVAC is the largest load for large commercial buildings.   For energy-intensive manufacturers, the energy load of manufacturing equipment and processes, such as furnaces or smelters, dwarf the lighting and heating loads of the related physical buildings.  

Different facility types and energy loads require their own tools and technology to drive efficiency.   One sized does not fit all.  While visibility into utility bills provides an essential, energy cost and use "source of truth" baseline for managers, bill visibility is only the very basic starting point to identifying energy use anomalies.  While the industry discussion of utility "smart meters" is pervasive, utility smart meters only provide information about the main meter at a building, not underlying energy loads or equipment.  
 For an organization just starting the journey to improve its corporate energy management, developing an understanding and sizing of energy consuming loads is essential when prioritizing investments.  The highest return investment may be focusing first on lighting at distribution centers before investing in an corporate energy management software for all building types (stores, offices, etc.) or upgrading BMS systems.   For large commercial buildings, HVAC optimization could be a more prudent initial step, with investments in plug load and lighting improvements planned for future phases.   For a hotel chain, a focus on hotels in very hot climates such as Florida and Caribbean may offer a quicker return than focusing on all hotels in all geographies.

In short, when refining your energy management program, push beyond basic, main meter utility data and develop a prioritized list of facility and energy loads to guide your investment decisions.

No comments: