Energy + AI

By on Oct 9, 2018 in Energy, News

Technological advancements drive many of our most engaging industry-wide discussions. The recent Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) 2018 Global Summit, a networking and education conference for property and asset managers, gave Yardi a high-visibility forum to showcase the connection between artificial intelligence (AI) and energy management.

Matt Eggers

Matt Eggers, vice president of Yardi Energy, delivered a presentation titled “Artificial Intelligence: New Frontiers in Energy Management and Cost Reductions,” which sparked further discussion of the impact of AI. Read on to see our responses to some of the questions raised during the session.

What happens to the energy data that’s collected, and how does it advance the commercial real estate industry?

AI systems help identify a building’s most important performance characteristics and reveal what should be prioritized in terms of equipment and usage. The data collected “trains” AI systems to make better-informed, more sophisticated decisions that optimize a building’s energy performance and occupant comfort. The more data that’s collected, the more efficiently the energy management system (EMS) will perform, which in turn reduces carbon emissions. Increasing sustainability within our industry is among the top priorities of Yardi, and the energy data aids our research and helps us achieve that goal.

How can an AI-enabled EMS add revenue streams?

As renewable energy technology matures, implementation costs decrease. AI’s role in optimizing systems that draw from renewable energy sources matures as well. In 2016 alone, 19 gigawatts of new wind and solar energy capacity were installed in the U.S., according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the price per watt of solar energy has reduced by over 99% since the 1950s. This is good news for owners of buildings that generate their own energy because they have the opportunity to sell what they don’t use to local grids. An AI-enabled EMS decides the best way to allocate resources to minimize waste and maximize the sellable output.

What should property managers look for in engineers who manage this type of system?

The ideal building engineer is not only traditionally qualified, but enthusiastic about using advanced property management software systems for conservation, economic and environmental benefits. A good candidate would consider these advancements not as a threat to their role, but rather as an exciting progression in their work.

What checks and balances control an EMS?

A platform such as Yardi Pulse includes a team of energy managers that monitor the system’s performance. AI-enabled systems also notify the appropriate facilities employees when something out of the ordinary is detected. As a final limiting control, Pulse can easily be turned off remotely without interrupting any building management system (BMS) operations.

How does Yardi Pulse recover the cost of replacing a BMS or EMS?

Yardi Pulse works with the existing BMS or EMS system. You don’t necessarily need to replace the BMS to work with Pulse. We notify prospective clients when a building isn’t a good fit for our solutions and advise them on any required adjustments.

How can users of AI-enabled systems be sure their data is secure?

In general, systems from proven providers are quite secure, but there’s always the possibility of a breach. For example, computers that manage BMS or EMS systems can become outdated. Older computers often have obsolete firewalls and virus definitions that are vulnerable to attack. It is important to keep these computers updated. Isolating the network on which these computers operate to prevent access to company or tenant data in the event of a breach is another measure that increases security.

Yardi encourages best practices such as consolidating core property management and accounting along with ancillary products in one database. Our data centers around the world are protected by a series of firewalls and around-the-clock monitoring. About 98% of our clients make use of the secure, reliable Yardi Cloud. In September 2018, Yardi was named for the third time to the Forbes Cloud 100, the definitive list of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world.

What does the future of this technology look like in the context of property management?

In general, those who own, occupy, regulate, invest in and share community space with properties will increasingly turn to AI-enabled energy management systems to satisfy their needs. For our part, Yardi plans to add more Internet of Things capabilities that enable smart devices such as locks and thermostats to increase the value of properties and give more visibility to building management. It’s important to ask yourself, ‘will buildings be run more by software or less in the next 2 to 3 years?’ We think the answer is clear: buildings are an excellent application for software, and we expect that the role of AI in property management will continue to grow.

Eggers adds, “We’re grateful that the Global Summit provided the opportunity to interact with clients, peers and industry thought leaders about the technological developments that are becoming increasingly important to our industry.”

Learn about other elements of the Yardi Smart Energy Suite, which encompasses usage and cost monitoring, consumption alerts, emissions tracking and sustainability planning, automated utility billing and payment, budgeting support and more.