Keys for analyzing your building data to turn information into insight (3/4)

July 17, 2018

We are excited to have Rob Richards (PE, CEM) as a contributing author for our blog. Rob most recently led the energy efficiency and sustainability efforts at Wofford College. Over a series of four blog posts, he will share with us his journey from the initial idea to measurable results.

Often the hardest part of implementing an energy management program is turning data into action. Once Wofford College put its hardware infrastructure and software platform in place as the first step of its energy management and sustainability plan, the management team had to develop a plan to understand, review and act on the insight it was gathering.

Gathering Insight

First, we calculated a baseline consumption value for each campus building. These values were then compared to on campus peer buildings as well as available benchmarking data. Each building identified as having greater than expected values was given a more detailed review of their resource consumption so that we could identify for actionable conservation opportunities.

The BuildingOS system was, and continues to be, the primary vehicle for this analytic work. Through this platform, we could create multiple dashboard reports with varying card types embedded for building comparisons as well as individual buildings resource analysis.

Depending what the report entails, I’ll review them either weekly or biweekly. Other reports demand a daily review. This is particularly relevant if an operational change has recently been made, as these reports will verify that building conditions are responding as expected.

Most of these dashboard reports started out as something I created for my own benefit, to help make an educated decision before I made a specific recommendation to the Physical Plant for energy conservation measures. However, I often have shared these reports for this and other purposes. After some refinement, I have found these reports helpful for group presentations to demonstrate ongoing conservation activities.

Information can be shared from the BuildingOS platform with other registered users in the Physical Plant as well as other interested parties on campus and outside of the Wofford community. One of the most important groups with which this information is shared is the student body. Sharing energy consumption insight has proven decidedly beneficial in advancing Wofford’s sustainability initiative.

Taking Action

Our team has used this information to drive Wofford’s sustainability goals in a number of ways:

  • Demonstrating the impact of recycling. Using BuildingOS Storyboards' Green Features chapter, along with manual meters setup within the platform, we can detail, track and display ongoing recycling efforts at the College. Most of these activities were things the College had been doing for years. However, few people on campus were aware of these important campus programs. Now we catalog weights monthly and make this information visible to the campus community so that they can see the tremendous impact recycling efforts have on reducing the school’s carbon footprint.
  • Reducing energy consumption. The campus has implemented a standardized unoccupied temperature setback control range on campus. Granted, this educational institution’s high percentage of on campus student residents limits unoccupied times for some buildings during a substantial portion of the year. However, this policy has pushed us to identify unoccupied times and implement relevant settings as often as possible.
  • Improving visibility into green operation actions. A newly constructed building on campus included a nightly temperature control setback as a part of the BMS design criteria. Data provided through BuildingOS helped us to get the campus community to stick to this design criteria, since building occupants can easily verify what is happening in the building. I actively encourage them to visit the Energy and Sustainability Storyboard so that they can see for themselves that CHW and HW resource demand numbers do, in fact, come back up when the building returns to “occupied” setpoints at 6 a.m. every morning.

The transparency BuildingOS offers has helped us make the case for maintaining this low level of energy consumption. The next step is showcasing our efforts and successes so we can continue such programs.

Missed any of the other posts in the series? Don't fret:

Part 1 - One college shares its checklist for selecting an Energy Management Technology

Part 2 - Centralizing all building resource data across your portfolio

Part 4 - Three reasons Wofford College celebrates its sustainability success stories