Three Tips for Increased Building Energy Efficiency

Buildings are responsible for 76% of electricity use and up to 40% of all U.S. primary energy consumption. Unfortunately, on average, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. This means that targeting the utilization of energy delivered to buildings is a critical component to emissions reductions.

To tackle energy usage and waste, facility managers can use an energy audit to establish a baseline to understand their facility’s power needs and opportunities for efficiency gains. Typically, this starts with the HVAC and lighting systems. This audit will likely include an analysis of past energy bills. Combined, this data can be used to prioritize where and how power consumption can be reduced and what can be done to eliminate inefficiencies or upgrade to higher-efficiency systems. By targeting the easily addressable, low-hanging fruit on the list, facility managers can be on their way toward better performance and higher efficiency gains, often with little financial investment.

Depending on the nature of your building or business, the items below are typically where facility managers and business decision-makers start their energy savings projects.

Stay Ahead of HVAC Maintenance

HVAC maintenance is one of the most readily addressable ways to reduce your power consumption. Keeping your systems running smoothly will:

  • Improve heating and cooling efficiency
  • Help you avoid expensive repair costs in the future

Worn-out parts, dust-laden vents, and clogged filters usually do not require expensive replacements or upgrades; however, if left unaddressed, they can cause your HVAC system to work overtime and consume more energy than would otherwise be necessary.

Implement LED Lighting Control

Lighting is sometimes not considered a significant draw on energy, but it is one of the best ways to gain much-needed efficiency benefits.

LED lighting consumes 70-90% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, and they can last anywhere between 50,000 to 100,000 hours.

This well-known advancement in energy-saving lighting, while seemingly trivial, is one of the easiest, fastest, and cheapest ways to achieve significant facility-wide savings. When available, tax breaks and subsidies can offset the costs of installing LEDs across your workplaces or business sites. To investigate what incentives are available for your property, contact your utility or local government. Often, utilities provide strong incentives for converting to LED lighting.

Use Automation and Sensors

The occupants of a building and their habits determine a large part of the building’s carbon footprint and energy consumption. To manage people and their daily routines, an Energy Management System can be installed. These systems implement schedules, sensors, and automation to generate and maintain efficiencies.

When coupled with occupancy sensors, dimmer switches, which provide control over the brightness levels of installed lights, are a great way to reduce energy waste by simply turning the power off when lighting is not needed. This approach is similar to outdoor lighting that uses motion sensors to trigger lighting for a specific time. Another method is to use timer-controlled lighting, which switches on and off based on a set schedule – with the schedule designed to optimize power use based on business and occupant-specific drivers.

GridPoint’s energy management system is designed to help business owners and facility managers lower their power consumption and business costs. A rudimentary example of this is load shedding by dimming LED lights whenever there is ample external light available, or when a space is not occupied. GridPoint enables this same sensing technology to be applied to your HVAC system, which often draws significantly more power than a typical lighting system.

HVAC monitoring and control begins with intelligent scheduling of your HVAC system’s setpoints. GridPoint’s intelligent setpoints are fed by a decade’s worth of data points from over 15,000 sites and proven results from enterprises and small businesses across the country. GridPoint’s advisory service schedules your HVAC system appropriately so that comfort and savings can be balanced. Smart thermostats allow this balance to be maintained, preventing rogue tenants from taking control of the system and modifying setpoints to be more energy-consuming. Once operational, GridPoint’s AI continuously learns the natural temperature drift of your building. It also learns how much time your HVAC unit needs to heat and cool a space. This makes your units run more efficiently without sacrificing your comfort while allowing operational anomalies to be detected before it’s 90 degrees outside and the HVAC suddenly stops working.

In Conclusion

An integrated network of technologies must be established for tech innovations such as GridPoint’s advanced proprietary algorithms to deliver continuous building efficiency. This includes everything from construction materials to light switches and management-level decisions on how and where resources operate or are used in a given workspace. How we build, maintain, and run our buildings is where we will see energy being used more efficiently. Each area of building design, construction, materials, and systems that go into a building determines the levels of energy efficiency possible at that site.

Interested in learning more? Connect with a GridPoint Solutions Expert here.

About GridPoint Solutions:

GridPoint is helping businesses leverage advancements in technology to create the buildings of the future. GridPoint provides a platform with which users can integrate distributed energy storage/generation systems, HVAC systems, lighting systems, and asset-level monitoring controls with real-time data from utility providers and onsite building- or user-specific data to create the most accurate and robust power consumption dataset in the industry.


Controlling Your Commercial HVAC: Energy Management Solutions VS. Programmable Thermostats

Businesses waste over 60%* of the energy they purchase every year. The majority of this waste results from inefficient heating and cooling in commercial buildings. The second largest offender is poorly optimized equipment usage. With nearly half of energy waste coming from ineffective HVAC schedules, facility and energy managers are quickly turning their attention to better control options for their HVAC units. After a bit of research on potential solutions, we all end up at the same question: What is the difference between an energy management solution and a standard programmable thermostat?

 

An energy management solution will take a more holistic approach to saving energy by treating the site as a complete system, whereas a programmable thermostat will drive down energy costs from HVAC units alone. This difference allows for more energy and operational savings coming from an energy management solution; however, this post will focus on an apples-to-apples comparison of differences at the HVAC level. Here is a list of some of the biggest variations between the two solutions:

 

• A smart thermostat can be programmed for different occupied and unoccupied setpoints for each day, but anyone can override these setpoints and put the thermostat on a permanent hold. This results in extra energy waste due to the setpoint remaining the same throughout the day and night, and eliminates any sort of control or regulation at the management level. Alternatively, The GridPoint energy management system creates intelligent multi-period scheduling based on the natural daily customer flow of your site, so you will save even more energy when your site is not busy. Additionally, if someone overrides the setpoint, it will return to the pre-set schedule in 30 to 120 minutes.

 

• A programmable thermostat saves energy through enforcing heating and cooling setpoints. GridPoint’s energy management solution does this as well, but it saves even more energy through advanced control algorithms that intelligently throttle up and down HVAC units to keep guests and employees comfortable at a minimal cost. It can also predict when buildings will use the most energy during the month, and curtail HVAC usage for 15 minutes at a time to save up to an additional 5% off your energy bill.

 

• GridPoint thermostats include an HVAC test tool that will automatically test the performance and operational status of each unit every month. An HVAC Scope report is generated that informs you of which units are broken with a full diagnostics report. This HVAC Scope report also predicts when a low performing HVAC unit might fail.

 

• A programmable thermostat controls an HVAC unit in an isolated manner, whereas an energy management solution treats all HVAC units at a site as a single system. This allows for some cooperative control efficiency which increases energy savings.

 

• Programmable thermostats require users to manually update each thermostat one at a time, but an energy management solution will allow users to update schedules at all locations with just a few clicks.

 

• A programmable thermostat may send an alert if a zone is not being cooled or heated properly by an HVAC unit, but an energy management system can alarm on more than just low and high temperatures. GridPoint’s energy management solution can alert users on short cycling, long cycling, performance trends, and power issues.

 

• A typical programmable thermostat may come with a mobile application to control the temperatures remotely. An energy management solution will include a mobile application as well as a web application to provide more value added features to drive more energy savings. GridPoint’s energy management solution goes one step further and also includes a full suite of services such as Control Support Services, Site Monitoring Services, and Energy Advisory Services.

 

The decision between an energy management solution and a programmable thermostat may seem like a budget decision initially, yet the return on investment is often recognized much sooner in an energy management system. GridPoint has recently released Energy-Management-as-a-Service (EMaaS) which allows businesses to exchange the large upfront cost for a low monthly fee that is less than the energy savings. Taking away the upfront cost creates a unique value proposition that allows customers to be cash flow positive from day one without touching a capital expense budget. If you’d like to learn more about how GridPoint can be your energy manager, fill out your information below and we’ll get in touch with you soon!

*http://www.erc-co.org/spooky-statistics-about-energy-and-water-waste/

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Gerald Zingraf
Product Manager

 

 

 

 

 


Setting Energy Management Goals

Setting energy management goals becomes much easier when you are equipped with the right tools to help guide you. ENERGY STAR’s Guidelines for Energy Management recommend following a seven-step process to implement and achieve a successful energy program:

  • Make a Commitment
  • Assess Performance
  • Set Goals
  • Create Action Plan
  • Implement Action Plan
  • Evaluate Progress
  • Recognize Achievements

This post focuses on how GridPoint’s smart building technology guides you through steps two and three: assessing performance and setting goals.

Assess Performance – Where are you now and where do you want to be?

Looking into historical energy data helps managers understand a building’s energy profile and will, in turn, help determine realistic targets to strive towards. A thorough performance assessment will involve gathering data, setting a baseline, benchmarking, and analyzing current energy trends.

To paint a better picture of consumption trends prior to installation, GridPoint’s solution incorporates 12 months of historical utility data to establish a baseline. This baseline is then used to determine how the energy management system can most efficiently reduce energy consumption. Benchmarking enables building managers to rank their sites in relation to industry averages for further insights on areas to improve. By reviewing previous energy usage patterns, GridPoint’s Analysts can recommend operational and control adjustments to improve performance going forward.

 

This image shows submetered channels and corresponding usage trends. GridPoint uses historical data to identify
anomalies, malfunctioning equipment, and inefficient usage patterns

 

Set Goals

Goals need guidelines, these make up your project’s scope. The scope can be set at the corporate or site level, by processes, by equipment, and/or by time period. By combining two or more of these constraints, managers are able to determine realistic short and long term goals designed to achieve what is meaningful to the business. Here are a few examples of multi-conditional goals and how GridPoint’s platform accomplishes them:

          GridPoint Energy Manager Mobile enables                                  users to track progress on-the-go

Short term goals:
  • Increase HVAC uptime from 90% to 95% – By controlling and tracking HVAC operation, GridPoint can alert customers when HVAC units go offline and mitigate outages.
  • Minimize time windows where cooler doors remain open – Door sensors enable GridPoint alarms that are configured to notify managers when cooler/freezer doors have been left open for extended periods of time.
  • Decrease nighttime lighting load by 70% – GridPoint can minimize unnecessary lighting during unoccupied hours through lighting schedules that correspond to store hours and sunlight levels.
Long-term goals:
  • Recognize an average kWh reduction of 10% across all sites – GridPoint models energy savings from the collected baseline data and can provide ongoing insight on methods to continuously improve energy savings.
  • Decrease overall max demand kW throughout the enterprise by 3% –GridPoint’s Load Curtailment Algorithm drives down costly, daily energy peaks without sacrificing comfort.
  • Reduce average per-site CO2 emissions by 4,000 pounds annually – By comparing the EPA’s CO2 data for energy supplied to localities, GridPoint can track CO2 reduction alongside energy consumption.

What is the potential for improvement? Operational performance is paramount to a facility’s integrity. How efficiently and effectively is the building providing comfort and safety to its occupants? Continuously checking for and addressing negatively impacting trends or actions will ensure that customers get the most out of their program. The GridPoint Energy Advisory Services (EAS) Team supports continuous improvement by leveraging real-time, equipment level data to identify equipment flaws or failures, unnecessary energy usage, and other anomalies. They can then make recommendations to mitigate these issues, keeping customers on the right path to achieve their goals.

 

Real Results

Reduced Energy Consumption – GridPoint reduces energy consumption with automated controls, advanced analytics, and actionable recommendations. Depending on the type of building, GridPoint saves between 5% and 30% off your monthly energy bill. This translates to tangible dollar savings that continue to accumulate over time.

Avoided maintenance costs – GridPoint Support enables customers to resolve common maintenance issues remotely which minimized the cost of diagnosis, labor, and truck rolls. Available 24/7, our Support Team can help troubleshoot and address a number of issues over the phone without ever having to call a technician to the site. The EAS team can also help by tracking poly-phase voltage imbalances, which degrade the lifespan of motorized mechanical equipment, like HVAC units and refrigerators.

Reduced site outages – Through the use of real-time energy metering, GridPoint’s alarms will notify customers of outages so that issues can be addressed promptly. In the event that there is a voltage outage during hours where the building is unoccupied, GridPoint’s Site Monitoring Team is the first to know and can notify the customer immediately.

Health and food safety compliance – By monitoring cooler, freezer, and hot water temperatures the EMS can mitigate issues or health code violations related to the quality of goods or services provided. GridPoint can monitor refrigeration/freezer temperatures and send automated alarms to key employees if temperatures fluctuate to an unsafe level for a period of time. Hot water heating is another sensitive channel that can be tracked and maintained to prevent the potential for growth of disease-causing bacteria.

 

These are just a few of GridPoint’s many benefits. For more information on how GridPoint’s technology can help you achieve your goals enter your contact information in the form below.


Jack French

Energy Data Analyst

Jack evaluates energy consumption patterns to provide customers a comprehensive overview of building operation and performance. Using data-driven strategies, he provides insight on how to optimize efficiency, comfort, and equipment lifespan.


HVAC Scope | The Automated HVAC Testing Tool

Budgeting for HVAC maintenance and repairs can feel like playing darts in the dark. It’s hard to determine how much to set aside for the year or how often you should schedule preventative maintenance. If you schedule too many check-ups you might be paying too much. If you don’t schedule enough, you may find that major components need to be replaced more frequently. This thin line between over scheduling and under scheduling is bravely tread by every facility manager, and decisions are typically made based on past experience, best practices, and old fashion guess work. GridPoint has created an automated and systematic method to this madness in the newly released, patent-pending HVAC testing tool: HVAC Scope.

 

What Is an Automated HVAC Test?

GridPoint’s automated HVAC Scope test is a new way to run diagnostic and performance test on HVAC units without lifting a finger. After the quick, initial setup, the HVAC Scope tool will test HVAC units individually on a pre-set cadence. The test can be set up to run at night when the building is empty to create controlled test environment and eliminate any interference with normal business operations. It can also be run on-demand if needed.

When run, the HVAC Scope tool will test each unit one-at-a-time to reduce any influence between units. It will prompt the HVAC units to run through several different modes: fan off, fan on, stage 1 cooling, stage 2 cooling, stage 1 heating, and stage 2 heating. This enables GridPoint to use the environmental data, energy data, and HVAC data collected at the site to pinpoint actual issues such as a fan that is not blowing air or compressor that is not cooling enough. A report is generated to help identify these specific issues before calling in a technician, reducing the time, and cost, it takes to get the issue resolved.

 

Save Time and Money on HVAC Maintenance

Studies have shown that the average commercial building requires $1,700 in HVAC maintenance every year. And that number doesn’t include the internal time it takes to schedule preventative maintenance, work with technicians, or troubleshoot HVAC issues. GridPoint’s HVAC Scope feature takes the headache out of managing your units so that you can focus on the things that matter most to your business. Each time the HVAC testing tool is run – whether automatically or on-demand, you’ll receive a report that will help you:

  • Reduce HVAC maintenance and repair costs
  • Improve preventative maintenance scheduling with real data
  • Extend the life of HVAC units through better care
  • Eliminate last minute HVAC calls during seasonal changes
  • Reduce the time it takes to diagnose and fix HVAC issues

 

HVAC Test Details

The value of GridPoint’s HVAC Scope tool is derived from granular data collected at sites paired with control capabilities within each unit. As the test runs, each stage of heating and cooling are run while data is continuously collected. The GridPoint controller runs calculations in the background in order to report the operational status of each zone and stage. This report will enable technicians on-site to see if there are any components of the HVAC unit that are non-operational by looking at the power consumption for each stage during the test. It will also let them know how well an HVAC unit is cooling or heating by showing temperature changes at each stage. These reports are sent to GridPoint Energy Manager for further analysis in a downloadable report. Over time, the trended performance of each HVAC unit can be used to fine tune preventative maintenance schedules. These reports can be run for multiple units across multiple sites to quickly and easily manage the repair and maintenance of HVAC units for an entire enterprise.

 

For more information or to receive a demo on GridPoint’s patent-pending HVAC Scope tool, fill out your information in the form below:


IoT Trends Taking the Guess Work out of Facility Diagnostics and HVAC Troubleshooting

The growing number of “internet of things” connected devices are transforming the way commercial and industrial industries operate. From product development, to point of sale, to customer service the influx of data gives business the insight they need to be better. One crucial area that is often overlooked emerges within business structures themselves. Traditionally seen as sunk costs, energy, maintenance, and repair expenses are necessary for operation. Now, thanks to IoT, internal teams and contractors are able to gain insight into the health of their facilities and equipment in order to prioritize, validate, and control these large costs. This wave of technology and services act as a bridge between businesses and facility contractors while improving communication, efficiency, and ultimately, experience. Below are three trends that are transforming the way businesses and facility contractors are interacting during facility diagnostics and HVAC troubleshooting:

Real-time data: Instant Understanding of a Building’s Performance

HVAC contractors play a critical role in preserving customer comfort during months of extreme hot and cold temperatures. Most businesses don’t recognize an issue is occurring until there is an unwelcomed change in temperature or a unit begins making strange noises. Technicians often arrive on site with only an employee’s testimonial on the issue and need to run multiple HVAC troubleshooting tests to determine the true root cause. With Real-time, submetered data available on mobile devices, users can visualize the facility’s health – down to individual pieces of equipment – and identify where an issue is occurring, from anywhere. This eliminates any guess work by identifying the issue’s source pre-dispatch and optimizes the truck roll. The technician can also use the real-time data to check the HVAC status post repair, thus validating the repair and confirming the equipment is operating correctly.

Predictive Maintenance: Calendar to Performance Based Maintenance

Maintenance for large facility equipment has traditionally been completed as advised on a pre-set cadence; for example, seasonal HVAC inspections or repairs are requested after an issue occurs. New predictive maintenance technology, like the HVAC Scope Tool, enables users to align maintenance or repairs with individual equipment performance. The tool gives users the ability to automate tests on any number of units across a portfolio of sites, and provides data on the core functionality of each RTU at each stage; stage 1 thru 3 HEATING/COOLING, FAN ON/OFF, Duct temperature, etc..  Units are benchmarked against similar units and the data can be used to anticipate when and what kind of maintenance will be necessary – eliminating unnecessary truck rolls associated with a seasonal schedule. Similar technology trends will continue to elevate calendar based maintenance to a performance based structure. By customizing and optimizing maintenance schedules for a business backed by their data, the relationship and communication between the business and contractor is significantly strengthened.

Machine Learning: Improving Operations Automatically

Automation and controls are fairly common IoT concepts that enhance HVAC performance and overall facility optimization. Greater value can be derived from automation that is designed to become more optimized over time. Smart algorithms use granular data to continuously improve a facility through machine learning. As more data is collected and analyzed over time, smart algorithms identify anomalies and changes in equipment behavior, and can alter operations automatically for the better. The business benefits from facility optimization and contractors can be confident that any failures or performance issues will be identified.

These trends paired with quality data enable everyone involved to understand HVAC health and make more informed decisions.  Transparency removes the guesswork which can often result in miscommunication between internal facilities managers and contractors. These tools will continue to strengthen interactions by increasing efficiency, and providing maintenance and repair quality assurance for both parties – a true win-win!

For more information on any of the trends mentioned above regarding facility diagnostics or HVAC troubleshooting, please fill out your information below:

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HVAC Scope | The Automated HVAC Testing Tool

Budgeting for HVAC maintenance and repairs can feel like playing darts in the dark. It’s hard to determine how much to set aside for the year or how often you should schedule preventative maintenance. If you schedule too many check-ups you might be paying too much. If you don’t schedule enough, you may find that major components need to be replaced more frequently. This thin line between over scheduling and under scheduling is bravely tread by every facility manager, and decisions are typically made based on past experience, best practices, and old fashion guess work. GridPoint has created an automated and systematic method to this madness in the newly released, patent-pending HVAC testing tool: HVAC Scope.

 

What Is an Automated HVAC Test?

GridPoint’s automated HVAC Scope test is a new way to run diagnostic and performance test on HVAC units without lifting a finger. After the quick, initial setup, the HVAC Scope tool will test HVAC units individually on a pre-set cadence. The test can be set up to run at night when the building is empty to create controlled test environment and eliminate any interference with normal business operations. It can also be run on-demand if needed.

When run, the HVAC Scope tool will test each unit one-at-a-time to reduce any influence between units. It will prompt the HVAC units to run through several different modes: fan off, fan on, stage 1 cooling, stage 2 cooling, stage 1 heating, and stage 2 heating. This enables GridPoint to use the environmental data, energy data, and HVAC data collected at the site to pinpoint actual issues such as a fan that is not blowing air or compressor that is not cooling enough. A report is generated to help identify these specific issues before calling in a technician, reducing the time, and cost, it takes to get the issue resolved.

 

Save Time and Money on HVAC Maintenance

Studies have shown that the average commercial building requires $1,700 in HVAC maintenance every year. And that number doesn’t include the internal time it takes to schedule preventative maintenance, work with technicians, or troubleshoot HVAC issues. GridPoint’s HVAC Scope feature takes the headache out of managing your units so that you can focus on the things that matter most to your business. Each time the HVAC testing tool is run – whether automatically or on-demand, you’ll receive a report that will help you:

  • Reduce HVAC maintenance and repair costs
  • Improve preventative maintenance scheduling with real data
  • Extend the life of HVAC units through better care
  • Eliminate last minute HVAC calls during seasonal changes
  • Reduce the time it takes to diagnose and fix HVAC issues

 

HVAC Test Details

The value of GridPoint’s HVAC Scope tool is derived from granular data collected at sites paired with control capabilities within each unit. As the test runs, each stage of heating and cooling are run while data is continuously collected. The GridPoint controller runs calculations in the background in order to report the operational status of each zone and stage. This report will enable technicians on-site to see if there are any components of the HVAC unit that are non-operational by looking at the power consumption for each stage during the test. It will also let them know how well an HVAC unit is cooling or heating by showing temperature changes at each stage. These reports are sent to GridPoint Energy Manager for further analysis in a downloadable report. Over time, the trended performance of each HVAC unit can be used to fine tune preventative maintenance schedules. These reports can be run for multiple units across multiple sites to quickly and easily manage the repair and maintenance of HVAC units for an entire enterprise.

 

For more information or to receive a demo on GridPoint’s patent-pending HVAC Scope tool, fill out your information in the form below: