Do you like surprises? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
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.
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.