Analyzing Building Data for Efficiency

While building owners have a wealth of information available to them documenting everything from temperature to utility rates, industry experts on a recent panel contend many are confused about the best way to utilize that data to maximize operating efficiency.

The market has become flooded with software solutions and dashboards that provide real-time monitoring of building operations, according to Darlene Pope, president and CEO of CoR Advisors, a consulting firm that helps buildings integrate smart building solutions. Information is critical to maximizing efficiency, Pope said, but she added that more data won't make a difference if not properly used.

"You can buy all the software on the planet, but if you don't change your behavior, it's not going to help you effectively reduce consumption in your building," Pope said. "Just because you buy a scale, it doesn't help you loose weight. You have to change your behavior."

Jon Towslee, senior vice president with EFT Energy, a supplier of energy management solutions, said during a Dec. 9 webcast panel on analyzing building operations that building owners have been encouraged over the years to gather as much data as they can from as many places as they can.

However, he suggests that building owners first decide what they really want to accomplish with the new information, whether it's simply increasing comfort in the building or trying to reduce energy spending. Towslee also said it's important to set goals and publish them where stakeholders, employees and customers can see what the company is trying to accomplish.

"You have to have goals," Towslee said. "Then, you can understand what you want to accomplish. It starts with analyzing the data, but it's simply not enough to just look at an energy chart anymore. You have to put it in context."

In terms of improving efficiency, Towslee advised property owners to focus on cutting waste first before attacking energy usage.

When it comes to analyzing the data during each step toward becoming more energy efficient, Towslee said there needs to be better connection between the information.

"Most data to most of our buildings are in islands, we need tighter correlations so we can understand what's driving that data and how they interact with each other," he said.

Derek Johnson, director of East Coast operations for Building IQ, an energy management software company, said automation software can help optimize performance and savings.