Energy Boom

By on Mar 1, 2019 in Energy, News

Christy Cannon, a Yardi Energy account executive and holder of the Certified Energy Manager designation from the Association of Energy Engineers, discusses how integrated systems are streamlining building operations. The exchange below includes excerpts from an interview published in Commercial Property Executive.


Christy Cannon

Q: How do building managers perceive the network of physical objects that can sense, communicate and interact with the external environment, otherwise known as the Internet of Things (IoT)?

A: The principal appeal is the opportunity to reduce operating costs, increase NOI and ultimately increase property value for the building owner. Our retail clients also face pressure to provide space that helps their tenants cultivate an image of environmental stewardship.

I see people who do the heavy lifting every day being excited about IoT. It’s like giving them a superhero cape. IoT devices help facility managers perform predictive maintenance and optimize heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), which not only reduces the number of comfort calls they have to deal with but also lowers repair and maintenance costs and extends the life of expensive equipment. Energy managers can view utility consumption in real time. They can manage peak electric demand and save 20% or more off their unregulated utility bills, or immediately identify a water leak.

Q: What’s the relationship between the IoT and artificial intelligence (AI)? 

A: The IoT architecture looks something like a wheel with hundreds or thousands of spokes, with each spoke representing an IoT device. Multiple network structures enable IoT devices to get their data to software that can use it. AI takes all the big data buildings collect from IoT devices, building automation systems and submeters, and learns how to predict future outcomes or make decisions based on the best available options.

Consider all the factors that contribute to a building’s comfort: the building envelope, such as insulation and window type, and environmental conditions like humidity, direct sunlight and occupancy, and more. AI can learn the cause and effect between data it’s getting from IoT devices to make decisions that not only ensure the next five minutes are comfortable, but also the next five hours—using the least possible amount of energy.

The consensus at the World Energy Engineering Congress in October 2018 was that AI is fueling the fourth industrial revolution. There is virtually no aspect of energy that AI won’t influence, especially regarding demand management.

Q: How do connected energy solutions benefit building owners and managers?

A: Integrated systems link building operations data in new ways by pulling more intelligence from the same data sets. An example is linking monthly utility bills to real-time consumption data. An asset manager looking into utility budget variances sees that electricity costs increased by 30% one month but doesn’t know why. He or she can drill into a graph online, all the way to the meter level, to see which meter caused the cost spike, then link to the meter’s 15-minute-interval consumption data during the service period. Now the manager can easily see exactly when the consumption spike occurred and work with the facility manager to address it.

This type of integration also ties financial data from utility bills to operational data on utility consumption. You can show your CFO a savings of $55,000 versus 460 megawatt-hours. Dollars and cents is the one language everyone speaks.

Most of our clients have diverse portfolios with big buildings, small buildings, central chiller plants or rooftop units. Some have HVAC optimization, others have only real-time metering or fault detection and diagnostics or central control. By pulling all of those products and operations into a single portal, you can manage your entire portfolio and see all your faults and alerts in one place. You can compare a big building with a chiller plant using HVAC optimization and a small building with rooftop units using central control on a consumption-by-square-foot basis.

Q: What is Yardi Energy’s contribution to the AI/IoT evolution?

A: We’re using AI and IoT to automate manual processes. When a fault alert automatically generates a work order and requires a purchase to resolve it, for example, the purchase order request goes automatically to Accounting, the item is shipped to the site, Maintenance completes the action and the work order is completed. The facility manager doesn’t have to manually create a work order, nor do Accounting or Facilities Management have to go online to place an order.

In the near future, tenants will be able to make after-hours HVAC requests through a portal, which sends a schedule change to the building automation system, after which a charge is posted to the tenant ledger. Accounting puts a fee on the tenant’s next bill, which is paid via the portal. This happens with no human interaction beyond the tenant request and paying the charges. The facility manager doesn’t have to slip a piece of paper to Accounting or send an email listing all the tenants who requested after-hours HVAC support.

As we remove people from these simple manual processes, we give them the bandwidth to focus on more complex activities. This level of enterprise solution is available because of the proliferation of the IoT, combined with AI and the connectivity of systems.

Read CPE’s interview with Christy Cannon in its entirety: Part 1 and Part 2. Learn how the Yardi Smart Energy Suite helps building owners optimize energy management and occupant comfort.