Building analytics software spells savings for property managers

June 11, 2020
Sierra Monitor

In our last article, we talked about how building owners and property managers are under increased pressure from government agencies and organizations to increase their energy efficiency and cut energy waste. As a recently released Clean Energy Scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), shows, “30 cities have taken steps to reduce energy waste in buildings by improving [building energy] codes.”

These more stringent codes have been one of the catalysts driving building owners and facilities managers to pay more attention to their energy usage. But it’s not the only one.

According to a recently-released case study about Cortex, a building analytics software solution provider, there’s another kind of “green” that is incentivizing these building owners, a desire to cut costs and increase revenue. That’s because they’re either paying that expense out of pocket to the detriment of their profits or passing that expense on to their occupants, raising the cost to lease their space and making it difficult to compete in the marketplace, especially in places where commercial real estate vacancy rates are high.

That desire to save money has them focused on their HVAC solutions, in particular. As the case study claims:

Of the many different systems and devices in a commercial office building that may consume energy, the largest energy consumer is inarguably heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). According to a 2015 report by the DOE, HVAC accounts for 35 percent of total building energy usage. The next largest consumer of energy is lighting, at just 11 percent.

Cutting HVAC costs isn’t always as easy as just turning down the A/C in the winter. There is comfort to think about. Resident, tenant, or occupant comfort can be compromised if the temperature in the building begins to drift above or below a certain threshold. Simply turning off the HVAC at midday on the hottest days won’t cut it. While it will certainly decrease energy costs, it will leave occupants in a multi-story sauna.

Luckily, the combination of IIoT gateways and building analytics software solutions can help make energy savings a reality.

Making informed HVAC decisions

To make balancing the comfort of occupants and the cost of HVAC easier, building analytics software solution providers, such as Cortex, have introduced solutions that harvest and analyze the data being generated by the HVAC devices and sensors in a building.

Utilizing this data, these solutions take advantage of advanced analytics and machine learning to generate actionable insights and intelligence that enables building owners and property managers to better manage their HVAC systems, allowing them to keep occupants comfortable while still cutting the energy usage of their HVAC systems and devices.

In fact, the Cortex solution is so effective that it’s currently in use by some of the largest and most recognizable property management companies, including CBRE and Empire State Realty Trust, which has saved approximately $800,000 per year in energy costs utilizing the solution in New York City’s iconic Empire State Building.

For building analytics software solutions, like the one offered by Cortex, to function, they need the ability to harvest device and temperature data from HVAC systems and sensors around the building. That’s where a gateway solution becomes necessary.

Shining a light on HVAC solutions

When a building analytics software solution is first installed in a new location, it has no real information or insight into what HVAC devices or sensors are present. That’s a problem because the solution needs to get the data from those unknown devices, through the building management system (BMS), if the application is going to be able to analyze it and deliver actionable insights to the user.

By utilizing IIoT gateways, companies like Cortex are able to establish the systems and devices that are present in the building and choose the devices they want to monitor through an easy-to-use Web interface.

These gateway solutions are giving the building analytics software solutions the connectivity and insight into the HVAC devices and sensors that are necessary to deliver actionable insights to the building owner or manager. This means they can make smarter energy decisions, meet stringent building energy codes, and cut costs.

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