For the last decade, smart building technology has been transforming the role of building commissioning agents, Certified Energy Managers (CEMs), and sustainability advisors in the commercial real estate industry. One area that has evolved is monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) – a process that involves continuously monitoring and analyzing the performance of a building’s systems to identify opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and to optimize their operation. Adoption of MBCx has been limited because MBCx was seen as complex to implement.Many CEMs and Cx professionals concluded that, when it comes to MBCx, the juice was not worth the squeeze.
Acquiring the HVAC and operations data from a building or campus, for example, required specialized equipment and personnel trained on arcane BAS and HVAC systems. From ACE IoT’s perspective, the five smart building trends we outline below stand to change the calculus regarding MBCx and other building optimization approaches. We see a growing opportunity for CEMs, Cx professionals and sustainability advisors to help their clients improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of their buildings.
Smart Building Trend No. 1: Regulation and ESG Reporting
As advisors to building owners, you’re keenly aware of the importance of addressing energy-related emissions from buildings. In the United States, buildings account for 35% of total energy-related carbon emissions. To address this issue, several jurisdictions have enacted Building Performance Standards (BPS), which set minimum requirements for energy efficiency in new and existing buildings. These standards are designed to reduce energy consumption, lower energy costs, and improve the comfort and indoor air quality of buildings.
In addition to local and state-level standards – California was the latest state to adopt BPS in Dec. 2022 – the federal government also recently announced new Federal Building Performance Standards, which will apply to certain federal buildings and require them to meet specified energy and water efficiency targets.
Finally, there’s also the role of investors who are becoming increasingly interested in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, especially as it relates to carbon emissions. A recent survey of over 1,000 investment professionals conducted by Capital Group in 2022 found that they are more likely to invest in companies that demonstrate strong ESG performance.
The upshot: Your building-owner clients are under increasing pressure to not only reduce their buildings’ carbon footprint but also monitor and report on that energy usage. CEMs and Cx Professionals can help building owners set up a reliable system that will both extract building data from various sources and report on it seamlessly across different functions.
Smart Building Trend No. 2: Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings
Another smart building trend that is gaining traction is the concept of grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs). GEBs are designed to integrate with the electrical grid, enable two-way communication with the grid and support the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
GEBs use advanced technologies, such as battery energy storage systems and smart building controls, to optimize their energy use and to provide services to the grid including demand response and frequency regulation. The adoption of GEBs is being encouraged by Federal investment in research and development, as well as the growing number of utility pilots and demonstration projects.
One of the key benefits of GEBs is their ability to improve grid resilience and reduce peak demand. By storing excess energy during periods of low demand and releasing it during periods of high demand, GEBs can help to smooth out fluctuations in the grid and reduce the need for expensive and polluting “Peaker” plants, which run only when there is a high demand for electricity. In this way, GEBs can help to reduce the overall cost and environmental impact of electricity generation and distribution.
GEBs also provide ancillary services to the grid. For example, they can provide reactive power support, which is used to maintain the voltage and frequency of the grid. GEBs can also provide frequency regulation, which helps to balance the supply and demand of electricity on the grid. These services can be valuable to grid operators and can help to reduce the need for new power plants or other infrastructure.
Advanced demand management and the integration of electric vehicles (EVs) are also key components of GEBs. By using algorithms and control systems, GEBs can optimize the charging of EVs to minimize their impact on the grid and to take advantage of low-cost, low-carbon electricity.
The upshot: As advisors to building owners, CEMs and Cx professionals can work to integrate the concept of GEBs into the building operations, helping your clients reduce their energy costs, improve their sustainability performance, and contribute to the stability and reliability of the electrical grid.
Smart Building Trend No. 3: Automated Systems Optimization (ASOs)
A third trend in the smart building space that should be of interest to CEMs and Cx professionals is the use of automated systems optimization (ASOs).
ASOs solutions use algorithms to optimize building operations and maintenance. The solutions are designed to monitor and control a wide range of building systems, including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, and building automation systems. By collecting data from these systems and analyzing it in real-time, ASO solutions can identify patterns and trends that can be used to improve building performance and reduce energy consumption.
One of the key benefits of ASO is that it is a proven technology that delivers verified energy savings. By continuously monitoring and adjusting a building’s systems, ASO can identify and address inefficiencies in real-time, resulting in reduced energy consumption and cost savings. ASOs can be implemented in both newly commissioned and existing buildings, allowing building owners to realize energy savings and emissions reductions regardless of the age of their building. In most cases, equipment upgrades or retrofits are also not required. An ASO scan be implemented using a building’s existing systems and equipment, making it a cost-effective approach for improving energy efficiency.
The upshot: ASO purveyors are seeking partners to help them bring their offerings to more building owners. To make ASO deployments most effective, building owner will work with Certified Energy Managers, sustainability experts, and building commissioning agents to leverage the expertise and knowledge of these professionals and realize the full potential of ASO solutions.
Smart Building Trend No. 4: Energy as a Service (EaaS)
Energy as a Service (EaaS) involves the use of financial models in which a third-party provider assumes responsibility for the design, construction, and operation of a building’s energy infrastructure and systems. The building owner then pays for the energy and related services provided, rather than paying for the upfront capital costs of the infrastructure.
EaaS provides a means for building owners to address expensive deferred maintenance, energy infrastructure upgrades, and large-scale renovations without incurring prohibitively high up-front costs.
EaaS projects are currently being executed by a wide range of buildings, including hospitals, schools, and municipal buildings. One common example of an EaaS project being implemented in many hospitals is the installation of a combined heat and power (CHP) system. CHP systems generate electricity on-site using natural gas or other fuels, and capture the waste heat produced during the generation process to provide space heating and hot water. By generating their own electricity and using the waste heat, hospitals can significantly reduce their energy consumption and costs, as well as their carbon emissions.
The upshot: As more and more building owners explore and pursue EaaS models, CEMs, Cx professionals and others should expect an uptick in activity.
Smart Building Trend No. 5: Availability of Tools and Services that Support the Creation of an Independent Data Layer
Now more than ever before, Cx professionals, Certified Energy Managers and other sustainability advisors have access to tools and services that can allow you to access HVAC data in real-time without engaging BAS controls contractors or hiring HVAC data acquisition specialists onto your team.
Companies, including ACE IoT Solutions, stand ready to help you establish what’s known as an independent data layer (IDL) for your clients’ buildings. IDLs are systems that allow data from multiple sources to be integrated and analyzed in a consistent and standardized way. They provide a single source of truth for building data and enable building owners to make informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information. IDLs can include data from a variety of sources, such as building systems, sensors, and occupant behavior. IDLs can be used to track and analyze a wide range of performance metrics, such as energy consumption, indoor air quality, and occupant comfort.
How do IDLs help to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of buildings? By making it easy for CEMs and Cx professionals to track and analyze data from multiple building systems, IDLs are tools that advisors to building owners can use to can identify opportunities to optimize building operations and maintenance.
The upshot: IDLs can help trusted advisors to building owners improve efficiency, monitor energy savings accurately, and enhance sustainability performance without having to engage BAS controls contractors.
Conclusion At ACE IoT Solutions, we act as data plumbers for buildings, providing an end-to-end solution delivering key data directly to our clients’ preferred data analytics system or data lake. We use open-source software tools to establish independent Data Layers (IDLs) in buildings and we do not charge for data on a per-point basis. We aim to resolve for our clients their data acquisition headaches. Please contact Bill Maguire (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information about ACE IoT and the support we provide our customers.
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