One of our clients recently shared with me that his “A-ha Moment” came one Saturday last summer, when he dropped by his office to pick up some paperwork he forgot and found the air condition on full blast and the lights on in the parking lot. His initial thought was “why am I paying for a comfortably cool building that nobody is using and a parking lot lit up like Wrigley Field?”
And then his thought process went to “who was the last to leave?” But, he remembered that the building operates on a BMS, so his thinking became “did someone override the settings?”
No matter how much we automate our buildings and our systems, there is still a behavioral aspect to be addressed and optimized.
When discussing this conundrum with the management team, they concluded that their corporate culture needs behavioral change. In order to accelerate a culture of operational excellence regarding energy usage; and to motivate the employees, the company realized that they needed more energy data. They needed granular visibility into their energy efficiency (and inefficiencies). Recounting the story that the boss found the lights on simply wouldn’t do.
Energy Efficiency Audits vs. Ongoing Energy Data
While energy audits may be successful at finding inefficiencies, they are limited in scope. And when managements share the results of energy audits with the hope of effecting behavioral change in employees, they typically find temporary changes that are short-lived.
Forward-thinking companies focus on the long-term benefit from the ongoing energy data provided by energy efficiency systems. By getting granular energy for every device and system in real-time, employees can actively engage with the company’s initiatives to reduce energy consumption. Furthermore, ongoing data collection and insights enables benchmarking and a continuous tracking of progress.
A Low Cost Solution to Increasing Energy Efficiency
There are many techniques to attain energy efficiency. Companies and facility and energy managers can invest in costly retrofits, expensive smart meters or, in some cases, invest even more into building new facilities that are smarter and greener. Behavioral change, however, is an approach with minimal cost and huge potential energy savings.
The Device-Level Energy Management Solution
Collecting data from all devices has many benefits, but instilling behavioral change is one of the greatest ones. With device-level wireless sensors, energy data can be gathered from systems without disrupting business operations. Once the information is collected, it is consolidated in an intelligence engine that produces actionable insights.
These insights can be shared with employees to make the intended behavioral change easy. When they are shown the actual energy consumption of the device they are responsible for and get an alert in real-time when consumption is off-threshold along with tasks they can manage to optimize the device, their part becomes easier.
For example, if the accumulated data showed that, for some unexplained reason, both air condition and heating systems run concurrently in one area of the building, the Facilities Manager in charge of the BMS can easily alter the settings. If, by continuing to monitor these systems, it is discovered that the change did not have the desired effect, perhaps the FM will need to schedule maintenance on the system that is not responding to the schedule.
Over time, facility managers are able to hone energy management actions that are based on qualitative, system level information that can be broken down into actionable data.
Behavioral Change through Visibility into Energy Efficiency
As many companies have found, telling employees to change their behavior rarely works for the long-term. However, explaining, having the necessary data, describing the positive effect their actions can have, and celebrating their successes is the real way to instill real change.
When it comes to energy consumption and the behavioral changes required to diminish wasteful habits and optimize efficiencies, gaining visibility, at the device level, of energy consumption is priceless. The data and insights generated by intelligent systems is the necessary first step toward behavioral change in the corporate culture.