Taming the Energy Beast: A Data-Driven Approach to Reducing a Building’s Consumption
Buildings in the U.S. are energy hogs. In fact, more than 76% of all U.S. electricity use and more than 40% of all U.S. energy use and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are used by residential, commercial, and industrial buildings (1). Most of the energy produced for these buildings comes from coal, oil, and natural gas – which, of course, are nonrenewable resources. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the average commercial building uses approximately 22.5 kWh per square foot. In addition, the EIA estimates the annual water usage of commercial buildings at 7.9 million gallons per building, 20 gallons per square foot, and 18,400 gallons per worker. These stats need to get better; GMC Cx is helping that effort, through commissioning and Monitoring-Based Commissioning.
Commissioning is a critical component of sustainable construction, but it can provide much more than just the check-the-box credit points for LEED certification. Commissioning ensures that buildings only use the energy and water they really need by maximizing the efficiency of operations.
Commissioning is arguably the single most cost-effective strategy for reducing energy, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions in buildings today. On average, GMC Cx is able to save our clients 10-20% through our commissioning efforts. These energy savings also tend to persist well over a 3-5 year timeframe. The field is moving towards a monitoring-based paradigm in which instrumentation is used not only to confirm savings, but to identify opportunities that would otherwise go undetected (2). Many commercial building owners have installed monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) software tools that tie in advanced metering infrastructure, building automation systems (BAS), and local weather data to enable ongoing commissioning and identify energy conservation measures (3).
Enter Monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx). MBCx is the continuous application of the commissioning process using software focused on monitoring and analysis of large amounts of building data. The MBCx services provided by GMC Cx can be an effective method to sustain performance of energy conservation measures (ECMs), keep energy costs low, and minimize system problems that may be caused by performance deterioration and changes to building operations over time. MBCx is implemented via software tools that compile and analyze real-time building energy system data, identify performance issues, assist with equipment commissioning, and optimize system operations (3).
GMC Cx also utilizes fault detection and diagnostic (FDD) systems in MBCx. FDD automates the process of detecting faults and suboptimal performance of building systems and helps to diagnose their potential causes. More than just a BAS alarm, FDD involves more nuanced analysis, incorporating more sophisticated logic that interrelates multiple data streams and performs diagnostics to isolate root causes. FDD may provide a report of the duration and frequency of faults, cost and/or energy impacts, and relative priority levels (4).
To bring it all together seamlessly, GMC Cx utilizes Skyspark. Skyspark obtains the existing building management system information and analyzes performance to ensure optimal facility operation. When equipment breaches any of GMC Cx’s custom-developed rules, our team of engineers is notified online, and the issue is addressed. GMC Cx's Skyspark offering adds value by determining the right solution for each project based on an objective needs assessment. On every project, our goal is to work collaboratively with our clients and stakeholders to devise strategies and programs that not only reduce energy and water consumption, but provide the greatest value for their building.
1. AN ASSESSMENT of ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES and RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES, US DOE. Chapter 5: Increasing Efficiency of Building Systems and Technologies. , 2015.
2. Mills, Evan. “Building Commissioning: A Golden Opportunity for Reducing Energy Costs and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United States.” Energy Efficiency, vol. 4, no. 2, 12 Feb. 2011, pp. 145–173, 10.1007/s12053-011-9116-8.
3. Enhancing Performance Contracts with Monitoring-Based Commissioning (MBCx). , 2021.
4. Kramer, Hannah, et al. “Building Analytics and Monitoring-Based Commissioning: Industry Practice, Costs, and Savings.” Energy Efficiency, 3 May 2019, 10.1007/s12053-019-09790-2. Accessed 12 Dec. 2019.