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Do you like surprises? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Photo of energy managers from Framingham State University, Massasoit Community College, and the Massachusetts College of Art & Design gathered in Brockton to take a closer look at EEMS data.

Energy managers from Framingham State University, Massasoit Community College, and the Massachusetts College of Art & Design gathered in Brockton to take a closer look at EEMS data

Chances are your answer to this is, “it depends.” Finding a twenty-dollar bill in your spring jacket pocket? Right on. Discovering $300 in text messaging charges on your family cell phone plan? Not so much.

And yet major facilities’ utility bills may contain just such surprises. That’s why the Department of Energy Resources set up 1,291 real-time energy meters – called Enterprise Energy Management System for State Facilities, or EEMS, operated by private contractor EnerNOC – measuring actual utility usage at 470 state-owned buildings, to cut down on unpleasant surprises and ratchet up opportunities to save big money. Because knowledge is power.

A LEED-Gold-certified dormitory on campus might be designed for higher electricity efficiency, for example, but a quick view of EEMS might reveal higher-than-expected consumption – leading facility managers to discover the secret hackathon on the third floor with 142 sleep-deprived sophomores slumped over their laptops.

For energy managers at Framingham State University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Massasoit Community College who attended an EEMS workshop in Brockton recently, logging into their EEMS accounts yielded some interesting discoveries. For example:

  • Most offices close at 5 or 6 p.m., yet remain fully climate-controlled until late evening. EEMS data can help make a concrete case to power down a couple hours earlier each night for significant reductions in energy use.
  • Often a facility’s automated energy management system (EMS) will plow through holidays, keeping unoccupied buildings ready for business. EEMS data can help you check to ensure that buildings are programmed for weekend or overnight modes on those days.
  • Once in a while, a piece of equipment – a boiler, an air conditioner – is malfunctioning in some way, working extra hard to produce the same amount of output. EEMS data may show spikes in such cases, and checking regularly can help you identify such quirks and anomalies faster.

    photo of a happy energy manager receiving getting news from EEMS

    Sometimes there are happy surprises

That $300 in text messaging charges would likely motivate you to reevaluate your cell phone plan (or eliminate phone privileges for your teenager). With knowledge you gain from EEMS data, you can catch unpleasant surprises such as these – and save a lot on power.

Workshops will be offered statewide in the coming months for EEMS subscribers.

Written By:


Jennifer is a 2013 Rappaport Institute summer policy fellow working with the Department of Energy Resources’ Leading by Example program. A native of the Midwestern plains, she graduated from the University of Minnesota, then went to work for a Member of Congress in Washington, a statewide arts advocacy organization, a youth orchestra, and American Public Media. She is also owner and principal of Haugh Communications, a full-service writing and editing shop. In 2011, she graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government with a Master in Public Administration. Jen is currently working on a Master in Design Studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Design to research strategies to mitigate resistance to wind turbine aesthetics. Fun facts: Jen (1) played orchestral French horn for 21 years, (2) once catered a dinner party for the president of Le Cordon Bleu Chicago, and, (3) according to her brother, will never qualify to be half-monkey, despite years of rigorous training.

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