Bright Ideas

By on May 11, 2017 in Technology

Matt Eggers

Matt Eggers

Energy efficiency remains a largely untapped resource for commercial buildings.  The challenges involved in finding, interpreting and benefiting from data about energy consumption, which represents one of a building manager’s biggest budget items, were the focus of a recent webinar hosted by Realcomm.

The instructors for “Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Technology Helping to Set New Benchmarks,” including Yardi Energy’s Matt Eggers, addressed the complexities of determining how much heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) a building needs at any given moment, taking into account occupancy levels, tenant comfort, weather and other factors.  Manually attempting to monitor and react to thousands of constantly changing HVAC data points isn’t feasible for even the best building engineers, according to Eggers, vice president of energy management for Yardi.

Additional hurdles to devising a viable building (or portfolio) energy consumption strategy, the instructors noted, include high expectations from tenants and stakeholders; extreme, often unmanageable volumes of data; specialized skills needed for energy management; and diminishing returns after the easy fixes have been made.

That’s where dedicated HVAC software platforms come in.  Intelligent optimization systems continuously monitor HVAC performance in real time to allow temperature adjustments—sometimes by a tenth of a degree—that optimize energy performance without compromising building occupants’ comfort, Eggers noted.  This strategy employs “more power tools, not hand tools,” he said, which means automating monitoring and adjustments, a vastly more efficient approach than manually tracking rooms and office space occupancy, water leaks and other malfunctions—not to mention determining the proper fraction of a degree adjustment.

Platforms from expert software providers also eliminate the need for specialized maintenance and programming skills.  The ultimate outcome of intelligent HVAC control, he said, is to “continuously optimize energy to keep comfort where you want it.”

Building owners and operators who traditionally value tenant comfort over efficiency can get the best of all possible outcomes with intelligent HVAC systems that deliver double-digit percentage reductions in energy consumption while maintaining, and in some cases improving, tenant comfort year over year, Eggers said.

Eggers was joined on the webinar panel by energy management leaders from Navigant Research, Boxer Property, Forest City Realty Trust, RealFoundations, Philips Lighting Application Center and ESD.

The instructors discussed the merits of installing fault detection and alarm software to catch equipment malfunctions; performing energy audits that focus on both supply and demand to drive a “buy smart, use smart” strategy; executing deep dives to improve HVAC engineers’ understanding of their equipment; centralizing energy consumption data for easy access and comprehensive analysis; and actively managing office and meeting space use to optimize lighting investments.

To learn more about Yardi’s HVAC optimization platform and the Yardi Smart Energy Suite, visit Yardi.com/SmartEnergy.