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Giving building managers what they need

Building managers, FMs and building owners have simple needs when it comes to doing their increasingly complex jobs. Good information on building energy performance, and the ability to analyse and apply this data to ensure ongoing improvements are key.

At the recent BCIA National Conference several energy managers from leading organisations such as ASDA and Eli Lilly highlighted just how important this sort of information has become to businesses. At ASDA, store managers are targeted on the energy use of their stores; and the retailer educates all its staff about the importance of saving energy. Being able to share data on energy use with store managers, in a way that is easily understood – and actionable – is central to the retailer’s success in keeping energy costs down.

Information on energy can be used to encourage other managers and employees to buy-in to the concept of efficiency. At the University of Reading, which is leading the way in energy efficiency in universities, the facilities team is working to cut energy waste wherever possible. Teams from different buildings have been in friendly competition to demonstrate their successes.

In fact, data from Reading University’s building energy management system (BEMS)  has been used by  the facilities team to create a ‘star’ rating system each month to show which campus building has been the most efficient. This is a simple approach, but has proved highly effective in encouraging building users to find and act on ways to improve energy efficiency and cut waste.

As BEMS become more advanced, and tracking energy to pinpoint levels is now starting to become the norm , large amounts of data can be collected. In fact ‘big data’ is now something of a challenge in this field – how can we cope with this level of information? How can we make it useful for end-users?

From a BCIA point of view, information on energy use is a highly valuable business resource, particularly given the rising costs of energy use in commercial buildings. But controls experts and end-users alike have to work together to ensure that big data doesn’t become a big problem, swamping facilities teams with a wave of figures that they don’t need.

It is very important to focus not on collecting data for its own sake, but on gathering useful information and displaying this in an easy to understand format that is going to help all users target areas for energy efficiency improvements.