Happy Holidays From GridPoint

Twas the night before New Year’s at thousands of sites,

GridPoint’s advanced scheduling was adjusting HVACs and lights.

Some employees nestled at home with their families,

while others up late selling last minute decorations and candies.

As the chilly winter temperatures continue to change,

set-points continuously adapt within comfort range.

When back in the manager’s office arose such a clatter,

his phone ringing with something the matter!

Smart alarms alerting that a refrigerator is down,

but what should they do? There’s no maintenance around!

Is it electrical? Is it a fuse? Is it a motor or fan?

Endless possibilities, but he has a plan.

Open GridPoint Mobile to identify the danger,

it just came unplugged, could have been so much stranger.

Oh how chaotic if it had gone on all night,

the inventory loss would have been out of site.

He plugged it back in, an issue no more,

now back to work managing the floor.

With hardware and software and someone to call,

the energy savings from GridPoint pays for it all.

He runs one last report oh, how smart are his buildings,

having all this data organized, what a wonderful feeling.

With confidence he locks up knowing everything’s alright,

happy holidays to all, and to all a good night!


Managing Consumption & Demand Charges

Understanding Time of Use

Certain times of the year put huge strains on our energy grid due to high demand.  To combat this strain, utilities implement rate increases for specific Time of Use (TOU) periods which increases the cost of energy during these high-demand times.  What does this mean?  Utilities establish higher on-peak and lower off-peak rates for kWh consumed during a specific period – for example, between June 1 and September 30 a utility sets an on-peak rate of $.29 between 3pm-6pm and off-peak rate of $.10 for any time outside of the peak period. As a business owner, you want to understand how you are being billed and find ways to manage your energy consumption during on-peak times to keep utility bills as low as possible.

Understanding Your Demand Charges

Your utility will typically identify a period during the month, quarter, or year (varies by utility) where the overall demand on the grid is high, and will add a peak demand charge to your bill based off your peak during that selected period. If your peak demand happens to be low during this time you could be in luck, especially if your utility sets demand charges annually.  You will continue to be billed at that rate until the next change cycle. To avoid additional energy, spend, facility managers must avoid setting new demand peaks by shifting consumption during the high-demand times.

For more information on utility charges view our previous blog on understanding electric consumption and demand charges.

5 Ways to Manage Your Energy Charges

Your car today likely tells you how many miles you have until you run out of gas, what the car’s average mpg is, and when it is in need of maintenance. These are fundamental tools to understanding how your car operates and when you need to take action. The same “smart” principles apply to buildings. Below are five ways smart building technology can help manage peak charges and TOU periods, and keep your energy costs in-check:

 

1)   Advanced Scheduling: Customers can use advanced scheduling to establish create a schedule that uses less energy when the rate is high and uses more energy when rates are lower to shift energy loads to lower cost time-periods.  Multiple periods can be added to the schedule so the customer is not limited to just setting open-close schedules. Lastly, HVAC schedules can be altered throughout the day to reduce exposure to TOU pricing and create additional savings.

2) Efficiency Algorithms: GridPoint’s setback and recovery algorithms efficiently transition HVAC units, by zone, from unoccupied hours to occupied hours and vice versa.  This limits unnecessary expenditure and ensures that locations are ready for business hours, keeping customers and employees comfortable. Additionally, this reduces a peak energy spike in the morning by staggering the ramp up period for HVAC units.

3) Load Curtailment: GridPoint’s load curtailment algorithm will predict a building’s peak demand on a daily basis and set thresholds to ensure new peaks are avoided every week.   As demand approaches the threshold automated controls can shut off equipment for short intervals to reduce the load. For example, if a restaurant is approaching peak on a hot summer day, the algorithm could call for various HVAC units to reduce its call for cooling for 15-minute intervals to maintain customer comfort and avoid surpassing the threshold. In order to control comfort within the building, the algorithm will stagger which HVAC units are in “curtailment” mode. Once the load is stabilized below the peak, the unit(s) will resume the normal schedule.

4)  Override Management: Override management features control to what level a setpoint schedule can be altered in a location. This gives employees the ability to make slight changes as needed, while staying within company policy to ensure energy efficiency. However, it prevents operational drift from employees creating permanent holds on thermostats that end up wasting energy by running constantly.

5)  Preventative Maintenance: Tools like HVAC Scope and the GridPoint mobile app give managers insight into equipment health and can help identify issues before they occur. Proactively identifying and correcting these issues avoids a costly malfunction which would negatively impact consumption and/or peak charges.

 

Utilities understand the benefits of smart building technology and energy efficiency tools, and often offer rebates or incentives to customers that invest in efficiency programs and products.  Each building is different and these new technologies can identify and respond to trends or other factors that have an impact on behavior or contribute to unnecessary costs. Click here for more information regarding utility requirements or to see if you are eligible for rebate or incentive programs within your state.

 

For more information on GridPoint’s smart building technology or anything discussed in this post, fill out the form below:


[Grid]Pointers on Getting your Sites Ready for Summer

Only a few days until summer officially begins but the temperature changes have already set records! Weather reports estimate that the 2017 season will be hotter than average, and facility managers need to factor this into their seasonal adjustments to ensure smooth operations during the sweltering months. Here are a few tips to protect your equipment against the heat, increase uptime, and keep everyone comfortable this summer:


Update your store hours

Many businesses open earlier and close later in the summer months, but if hours aren’t updated in your EMS (or BMS) the temperature inside won’t reflect the open hours, resulting in uncomfortable customers.  Updating these hours can be a tedious task, but by using GridPoint’s bulk edit feature, users can update multiple locations simultaneously with just a few clicks. The advanced scheduling feature compliments your store hours by enabling multiple sets of hours to be set up by GridPoint support teams with different energy settings. These could be for when employees are on-site but the location is closed, during busy periods, or during slow periods.

 

Establish setpoints

Who doesn’t love the feeling of walking in a cool building after being outside on a 100 degree day? But over-cooling your space can kill your energy budget and put unnecessary strain on your HVAC units. GridPoint’s smart building technology considers external weather data to ensure that location’s internal temperature remains comfortable and that HVAC functionality is optimized.  GridPoint’s Dynamic Setpoint Algorithm is a safety net that makes sure your HVAC units adjust automatically to unexpected temperature changes. Users can then set a more modest setpoint without fear of fluctuation. Of course, overrides can be done from the on-site controller or remotely by a mobile device if needed.

 

Assess HVAC unit health proactively before an issue occurs

HVAC maintenance can be costly, but not as costly as a replacement unit or the downtime that results from a unit that has failed. Instead of scheduling a traditional, seasonal maintenance checkup, GridPoint’s automated HVAC Scope test tool should be run to test each HVAC unit, at each stage, before the hottest months arrive. This test provides insight into the health of each unit and enables facility managers to identify and prioritize maintenance needs. The tool not only optimizes a technician’s time on-site, but can also validate a repair immediately to eliminate any additional truck rolls.

 

Implement additional algorithms aligned with your business needs

GridPoint’s technology incorporates patented algorithms to further optimize energy usage, increase comfort, and protect equipment. Curtail your loads automatically to meet target load limits, efficiently transition zones between unoccupied and occupied temperatures, remove humidity from your sites, improve your air quality, or shield equipment during a voltage imbalance.

 

Enroll in a Demand Response program
Demand Response programs are offered by many local utilities, contact your provider to inquire about opportunities in your area. These programs enable utility customers to contribute to energy load reductions during times of peak demand in exchange for an incentive. This results in improved service to the whole geographic area, saves energy, and saves energy expense. This is a great way to be environmentally supportive, save money, and still operate your facility with comfort in mind.

 

Run reports to benchmark your usage
Reports are a great way to compare equipment performance or energy usage at a site against itself or across other sites over a period of time.  Reports visualize anomalies or failures, and can also help identify opportunities for performance improvements.  By establishing a baseline, users can adopt realistic energy strategies that are aligned with their department and company goals.

 

For more information on GridPoint’s smart building technology or anything discussed in this post, fill out 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:


GridPoint: Leveraging Data to Avoid Energy Drift

Energy Drift Defined

GridPoint: Leveraging Data to Avoid Energy Drift
Energy drift is the gradual loss of efficiency that can occur after a Building Management System (BMS) is commissioned. After initial setpoints and schedules are established, changing site conditions, control overrides made by staff, and underperforming equipment can cause buildings to stray from expected savings over time. These issues can be combatted by identifying where drift is occurring and taking action to put efficiency back on track; however, the fundamental problem is that energy and building managers don’t have access to real-time, asset-level, and historical data to determine if there is an issue, what the issue is, and where the issue is coming from in order to do this efficiently.

 

The Solution: Asset-level Data in Real-time

Through its partnership with Energy United, GridPoint offers an asset-level submetering solution that aggregates structured data in a cost-effective, cloud-based software platform to provide visibility into equipment energy consumption in real-time. The solution complements existing BMS system with data to help users ensure that control and operation of their building is efficient over the long haul.

 

Early Wins

Following a GridPoint installation, there are immediate actions that can be taken to mitigate BMS drift through tuning. These actions are intended to bring the building to its most optimized operating condition by improving the efficiency of major building and manufacturing support systems like HVAC, lighting, air compressors, equipment coolers, and motors. GridPoint’s data facilitates these actions by showing exactly where energy efficiency is lacking. In one example, a large international media company installed GridPoint’s submetering solution after installing a BMS system. GridPoint’s solution quickly identified that a chiller was using 25% more energy after their BMS was installed and the issue was pinpointed to an incorrectly programmed system. Once reprogrammed correctly, the chiller saved approximately 15% more energy than expected.

 

Long-term Wins

As building systems and manufacturing machinery are used, sites need to be continuously optimized to avoid drift. Key performance parameters will change, mechanical systems will wear, filters will clog, belts will fray, and all of these conditions eventually show up in the amount of energy used. GridPoint’s asset-level submetering provides real-time and long term trend information for major systems and subsystems so users can determine issues as they are occurring, facilitating immediate action. A large hospital suddenly experienced issues with negative air pressure in its lobby so that when patrons opened the doors a strong rush of outside, unfiltered air flowed into the building. This not only created uncomfortable conditions, but also forced the hospital’s HVAC system to work harder to bring the lobby back to the correct temperature. With GridPoint’s asset-level visibility into how the air handling units (AHUs) were operating, they were able to rebalance the units and correct the air pressure, which ultimately saved the hospital about 70kW in energy usage, which translates to over $30,000 per year in savings.

 

Start Today

GridPoint’s Energy Management Solution takes asset-level submetered data and aggregates it in GridPoint Energy Manager, a cloud-based software platform that leverages big data analytics to enable valuable tools such as smart alarms, analytics and reporting, intelligent control, facility diagnostics, continuous demand management, renewables monitoring, and project and event tracking. GridPoint’s professional energy services complete the solution, and provide the support and expertise customers need to fully optimize each site in their enterprise. GridPoint’s data has been leveraged at over 11,000 sites and has saved customers over $250,000,000 to-date. For more information, visit www.GridPoint.com or contact Tim Holder at tim.holder@energyunited.com to learn about Energy United’s partnership with GridPoint and opportunities to install the solution in your facility today!


GridPoint Energy Manager Mobile 2.0: How Users Manage Sites On-the-go

As a Senior Data Analyst working at GridPoint I work with customers representing a wide variety of verticals. This unique experience has given me perspective into the varied needs of energy management system (EMS) users. From optimizing occupant comfort, to controlling energy peaks, to reporting on food safety, there is a seemingly endless number of ways users leverage the valuable energy and environmental data that GridPoint collects.

Many GridPoint customers have designated energy management teams who spend a portion of their day analyzing energy trends at their computers. A large number of our customers, however, are constantly on-the-go. They wear many hats at work, and while they require access to their energy and environmental data, they need it in a streamlined and accessible medium. Understanding our customers’ needs ultimately led our team to develop GridPoint Energy Manager Mobile 2.0.

Mobile 2.0 expands upon the capabilities of GridPoint’s preliminary mobile offering of real-time data and site details to include historical trended data, site schedule and setpoint data, energy consumption summaries, temporary control overrides, and more.

Below are adapted stories that represent common use cases our customers have relayed to us regarding their app use:

 

Mobile1

 

Use Case: Cooler Temperature Record Keeping

Key Mobile Features: Trends; real-time data

I am a site manager at a fast casual franchise restaurant. My priorities are to ensure that customers dining with us are delighted by our food, service, and atmosphere. A big part of my job is ensuring food safety. Part of our food safety initiative includes tracking cooler and freezer temperatures. While our cooler data is available at all times on the GridPoint Energy Manager portal, and even gets summarized for me in daily reporting, I often need to reference cooler temperatures periodically during the day.  I use GridPoint Energy Manager Mobile’s trend graphs feature to export both historical and real-time records of our cooler and freezer temperatures. With just a few taps I am able to extract meaningful temperature data from any point within the last two years and send it to my colleagues.

Use Case: HVAC Repair Tracking

Key Mobile Features: Real-time data; trends

I lead the HVAC maintenance team for a national retailer. My job is to ensure that my technicians make repairs quickly and effectively. My team relies on real-time data to verify repairs that have been made. We have incorporated GridPoint Energy Manager Mobile data into our repair and verification process. For example, before making a repair a technician will drop the cooling setpoint on a unit and track the corresponding kW load and duct temperature. Once the repair has been made, the technician will track these same metrics in real-time to confirm whether the repair was performed successfully. The technicians then export and email the real-time tables as a record that their repair was performed successfully.

mobile 2

 

Use Case: Override Assessment

Key Mobile Features: HVAC tiles; HVAC overrides

I am a facilities manager overseeing 45 retail locations across the Northeast. We have a strict corporate energy policy to save money and reduce our carbon emissions. My performance is measured based on how well I curtail energy spend at our sites. We have corporate setpoints and I must approve all setpoint change requests. I leverage GridPoint Energy Manager Mobile to verify zone temperatures are justifiably uncomfortable for occupants before allowing the override. If the site is in need of a temperature change, I will perform a temporary control override from my mobile app. I am also able to check historical data to determine whether the unit at a site may be experiencing a problem. Armed with this data, I am able to schedule prompt repairs without even going to my office to use my computer.

 

mobile 3

 

Use Case: Site Consumption Analysis

Key Mobile Features: Site Energy Dashboard

I am a site manager for a locally-owned neighborhood convenience store. We do not have a designated energy manager at the company, so it is up to me to follow best practices to curb our energy consumption and lower our bills. I am constantly on the move, therefore it is helpful for me to access my energy consumption through my mobile device. GridPoint Energy Manager Mobile’s Site Energy Dashboard is particularly useful for me, as it ranks my highest consuming assets by consumption and peak. This data showed me that while refrigeration and other equipment are typically our highest energy consumers, our HVAC system is responsible for many of our monthly peak charges. With this simple insight, I made the decision to implement a Load Curtailment algorithm to shave up to 5% off my peak. Additionally, I like to leverage the Site Energy Dashboard’s custom time period selector to compare the GridPoint-metered usage against our billed usage to ensure that utility metering is accurate and I am not being over-charged for my usage.

 

 

We hope the use cases outlined above inspire our customers to draw even more value from the GridPoint system. To view a demo video, visit http://www.gridpoint.com/mobile/.

 

 

 

Sophie Rudolph

 

Sophie Rudolph
Senior Data Analyst


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/

cubefit-headshots-8209

 

 

Gerald Zingraf
Product Manager

 

 

 

 

 


Submetering: Capturing the Right Data for Results

Energy management and data go hand-in-hand; you can’t manage what you don’t measure. But while collected data provides insight, there is no true result without analysis and action. In order to see maximum value with an Energy Management System (EMS) an organization must have the right data, produced at the right time, aligned with the right processes, combined with the right people to take action. GridPoint’s EMS leverages these key factors to create custom solutions designed to provide immediate value that increases over time. These values include reducing energy costs, increasing building efficiency, validating capital planning decisions, driving organizational sustainability, and improving employee and customer comfort.GridPoint Value Drivers

 

This post will focus on how the right data can drive significant energy savings across an enterprise.

 

Energy professionals generally have a good understanding of the value provided by a building management system (BMS). Through a BMS, site managers are able to control lighting and HVAC equipment to optimize comfort, and reduce unnecessary energy spend driven by improper set points or mismanaged schedules. However, what is often missing from the BMS equation is the data needed to validate the system – how do you know it’s working if you can’t measure the results?

 

Submetering adds a level of granularity and provides powerful data that can be combined with BMS information to achieve greater savings. A BMS will allow you to control your environment and submetered data verifies that your controls are working as expected. This information combined with advanced analytics can provide deep insight into where opportunities exist to reduce even more energy across an organization.

 

The keys to achieving greater results through a comprehensive energy management system fall within four areas; scheduling optimization, equipment optimization, comparative analysis, and peak demand management.

 

Scheduling optimization
By combining a BMS with submetering and advanced analytics, users can identify deviations between what is happening and what is supposed to happen.

Identify overrides: schedules are often overridden by employees or vendors. This leads to temporary overrides or schedule changes becoming permanent. GridPoint’s EMS enables override parameters to ensure employees and customers stay comfortable within a set threshold. These overrides are then defaulted back to normal after a specified time period leading to more savings over time.

Validate scheduling: Sometimes schedules appear to be setup correctly but communication isn’t happening at the equipment level. GridPoint’s data confirms that each piece of equipment within a site is responding according to the set schedules, thus validating all communication paths. If is off-schedule, the data can provide further insight into what is malfunctioning and why, and immediate action can be taken.

 

 Equipment optimization
Not only is it possible for schedules to be misaligned at the site level, it’s possible that individual pieces of equipment may not be performing as expected. Submetering enables users to identify which piece of equipment is malfunctioning and for how long.

Equipment issues: individual equipment, such as economizers or electric reheats, often rely on complicated control strategies to power it on or off. When a piece of equipment malfunctions during BMS control, users simply identify that it’s not working – there is no insight into the reasoning why, such as an economizer damper failure, or simultaneous heating or cooling. GridPoint connects energy usage to the control schedule to validate if the units are operating as they should, and provides feedback when they are not aligned.

Startup / shutdown: Understanding when the right time to turn off and on HVAC equipment isn’t as easy as setting a time and letting it go. Factors such as outdoor temp, time of year, and occupancy, can affect the daily schedules of individual sites. GridPoint’s EMS incorporates these factors and adjusts schedules automatically to optimize each site independently.

 

Comparative Analysis
Comparing energy usage across sites can help identify underperforming facilities and equipment.

Building and individual equipment comparison: Understanding equipment performance and comparing it across similar assets seems simple, but without the right context it provides very little value. GridPoint’s EMS normalizes usage to accurately compare performance of individual pieces of equipment, and buildings with similar footprints.  By understanding site performance across an enterprise, decision makers can identify which sites are excelling and which are not.  This can then be used promote communication and competition, and to drive sustainability initiatives.

Deviation from baseline: Without understanding how a building or asset performed previously it’s impossible to know if it’s performing well now. Comparing predictive models against actuals can provide deep insight into performance issues and help maintain energy efficiency measures. GridPoint incorporates historical data to trend energy efficiency projects over time. The project tracking feature enables users to set baselines for individual projects and track over the project’s life to ensure goals are being met.

 

Peak demand management

One of the most powerful aspects of incorporating metering and BMS data together is through advanced management of peak demand.

Peak demand avoidance: GridPoint’s predictive algorithms forecast demand spikes and automatically shift loads to minimize impacts of monthly peak demand charges.

Targeted equipment optimization: GridPoint’s data analytics tools make it possible to identify opportunities where system usage overlaps. Overlaying this with operational data, such has hours of operation or production schedules, it’s possible to optimize run-time of the equipment automatically to reduce demand.

As you can see, submetering drives significant value opportunities not only at the facility level, but at the enterprise level as well. I’ve touched on just a few examples of how the right data, at the right time, can identify hidden savings opportunities and reduce costs – and energy savings is just the beginning. Stay tuned for follow up posts where I will detail how to leverage the right data to maximize additional values, including employee and customer comfort, capital planning, organizational sustainability and building efficiency.

anthony

 

Anthony MacDonald
Solutions Engineer

 

 

 


GridPoint Support: Managing Your Chaos

It’s Friday night and your restaurant is busy as usual.  You notice several of the diners fanning themselves with menus and realize that the front of the dining room is warm.  What do you do?

 

If you don’t have a GridPoint Energy Management System, your next step might be to go back to your office and check your thermostat.  You might change the setting by a few degrees and wait to see if that helps, delaying the issue for another hour or two.  If it still seems too warm, you might call for someone to service the unit.  That technician might get there that night, or it might be next week sometime.  In the meantime, you have a full evening, and possibly a few days, of unhappy customers.

 

If you do have a GridPoint Energy Management System however, your first step would be to pull out your cellphone and open the GridPoint Energy Manager Mobile app.  It will not only allow you to change a set point, but it will also give you visibility into whether the unit is circulating cool or warm air (the supply duct temperature).   Armed with that information, you simply dial 866-800-8906.  GridPoint customer support listens to your issue and immediately tests the unit in question.  If the unit is cooling well and just needs an adjustment, they take care of that on the spot.  If it needs a technician to service it, they can adjust other units to compensate until a technician can arrive.  Diners are happier, stay longer, and your night’s revenue is saved.

 

This situation is not unique to a restaurant; it happens at retail locations, pharmacies, fast food restaurants and convenience stores alike.  Managers are busy.  They don’t have time to figure out if there is a problem with the heating or cooling, but it is extremely important to the bottom line that they function properly.  GridPoint prides itself on providing world class customer support.  I am the VP of the Delivery & Support Team and have been with GridPoint for over 12 years.  I can safely say that each and every day of those 12 years, we have made at least one store or restaurant manager happier.  Whether it is through testing an HVAC unit to verify it needs service, changing the lights to come on during off-hours, or validating that a technician completed the job they were paid to do; the GridPoint Customer Support Team has become the go-to first response call for so many of our installed sites.   Each person on my team comes to work knowing that they will make a customer’s life easier, less expensive, or more comfortable.  That is what we are here to do.  The GridPoint EMS offers many things from energy savings to enterprise wide automation, but combine that with a strong customer support team and you have a solution that does so much more.

 

Current Service Offerings

GridPoint offers several levels of services to tailor to the individual needs of our customers. Below are a few options from a customer support perspective:

  • General Software Subscription
    • With every active subscription, a customer receives a basic level of customer support that includes technical support of our equipment, customer training by phone, working with technicians, general support and troubleshooting
  • Control Support
    • All of the above + schedule changes, HVAC setting changes, lighting changes
  • Site Monitoring
    • Proactive support providing a prescribed customer contact with information about a site based on data collected from the site.  Normally provided through smart alarms or a deeper manual review of daily or weekly reports.  This is a flexible offering where each customer receiving the service has the opportunity to establish their own process to make the most of the service.

 

So far this year, the Customer Support team has handled thousands of customer tickets and resolved 98.5% of them within a strict set of service levels (SLA).  That means our customers get answers and assistance quickly, and to their satisfaction.  We offer support through several mediums including email (Support@gridpoint.com), working with customer third party service systems, and through phone calls which are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

 

When we can help someone at the site resolve a problem without sending a technician or recommending service, we refer to that as avoiding a truck roll.  Using a conservative estimate, we have saved our customer base over $3.6 million over the last two years in avoided truck rolls alone.  That is not insignificant, especially for those of our customers that have incentives for their site management related to budgets and spending.

 

As you can see, GridPoint’s support teams play an important part in our customer’s experience. If you are interested in learning more about any of GridPoint’s service offerings, fill out the form below and a team member will get in touch with you.

Jennifer Faulkner

 

Jennifer Faulkner
VP, Delivery & Support

 

 

 

 


Understanding electric consumption & demand charges

Understanding Electric Consumption & Demand Charges

Electric energy prices have been rising at a pretty constant rate for the last few years, and more rate increases are predicted for the future.  If you’ve ever had a chance to study your utility bills you probably noticed that the majority of your total cost is comprised of charges for consumption and charges for demand.  In some cases the demand charge can exceed the consumption charge, and in many cases the demand charge accounts for nearly half of the total bill.  So, it’s a good idea to understand how electric consumption & demand charges are calculated so you can determine the best ways to limit both and save your enterprise some money.

 

Electricity is Energy, But Knowledge is Power

This blog post will concentrate on the two biggest charges found in most commercial electric utility bills – consumption (measured in kWh), and demand (measured in kW).

 

Consumption

Your electric consumption charge is easy to understand and calculate.  Consumption is measured in kWh (kilowatt hours).  This is a measurement of the amount of energy you use during the billing period.  kWh prices vary widely.  Depending on your geographic location and your utility rate plan you could be paying as little as $0.03 or as much as $0.30 per kWh or more.

 

EXAMPLE A:  If your building used 10,000 kWh during the billing period (usually about a month), and your rate was $0.10/kWh, then your consumption charge would be:

10,000 kWh * $0.10/kWh = $1,000

 

You can reduce the amount of kWh you consume by making sure your HVAC is carefully controlled so you aren’t over air conditioning or over heating spaces in your building, or conditioning the air when buildings are unoccupied.  You can also reduce your consumption by making sure that energy consuming equipment like lights, office equipment, exhaust fans, battery chargers and cooking equipment are turned on only when needed.  The GridPoint Energy Management System provides the perfect platform for doing this.

 

Demand

Demand is a more complex subject.  To the electric utility, demand represents the amount of electrical power that has to be generated at any given time.  In other words, the utility has to be able to deliver enough power at any time during the day to deliver the maximum amount of power needed by all of its customers.  As demand increases, more sources of power must be found – this can be very expensive.  That expense is usually passed on to the utility’s customer base.  To the consumer, demand represents how fast you use energy and how efficiently you use it.

The speed at which you use electrical power is measured in kW (kilowatts).  Your demand will vary from minute to minute as HVAC cycles, lighting, and other loads are turned on and off.  The electric utility usually measures demand as an average of the power you draw in a 15 minute period.  Very short bursts of demand, for instance when demand surges occur when electric motors turn on, will have little effect on the average 15 minute demand.  But, longer periods of demand will have a big impact.  For instance, leaving a large electric motor (i.e., a kitchen exhaust fan) turned on constantly will have a significant impact on your 15 minute demand.

The unit cost of demand (kW) is always much higher than the unit cost of consumption (kWh).  Consumption is typically charged at a few cents per kWh.  Demand is usually charged at a few to several dollars per kW.

 

EXAMPLE B:  Using EXAMPLE A, and applying a demand charge – for instance 100 kW average 15 minute Demand charged at $10/kW – the monthly bill would become:

10,000 kWh * $0.10/kWh + 100 kW * $10/kW = $2,000

Demand charges just doubled this monthly bill

 

Your demand charge can also be influenced by a characteristic called power factorPower factor is a measure of how efficiently your site uses electrical energy.  If your equipment uses energy inefficiently it will exhibit a low power factor and the electric utility must have more generation capacity online to serve your needs.  On many electric bills you’ll see your power factor measurement.  Power factor is denoted as a percentage.  A 100% power factor means your equipment is using power with 100% efficiency.  Utilities usually apply a multiplier to your demand charge for power factors below 90%.  Power factor multipliers of 1.2 to 1.5 are common.

 

EXAMPLE C Using EXAMPLE B, and assuming an 80% Power Factor and a 1.2 Power Factor Multiplier the monthly bill becomes:

10,000 kWh * $0.10/kWh + (100 kW * $10/kW) * 1.2 = $2,200

 If your building uses energy at a low power factor your bill will increase

 

And finally, you may also see two different types of demand on your bill – actual demand and billing demandActual demand is just what it sounds like – the highest actual average 15 minute demand measured during the billing period.  The billing demand is the highest 15 minute demand measured at your site in previous months.  Each month you could be billed the higher of these 2 numbers.  Bills that show both actual demand and billing demand use a factor called demand ratchet.  This simply means that if you demand a lot more power during one month – for instance during July in Miami – then the highest average 15 minute demand for that month will be billed for July and the next 11 months even if the actual demand is lower during subsequent months.  The only exception to this rule would be if your actual demand was greater than the July demand in a subsequent month – for instance August in Miami – then the demand that would be billed would increase to that higher number for August and used as the billing demand for the following 11 months, regardless once again of your actual demand.  When your rate includes a demand ratchet you will be locked into your highest demand for 12 months (some utilities use 6 months, some others use 18 months, but most ratchet plans use 12 months).  Managing your demand is always a good idea, managing your demand when you have to live with a demand ratchet is critical.

 

An Energy Management System Can Help

Most Energy Management Systems can help you reduce your electric consumption.  However, if you don’t know exactly where and when that power is being used or how efficiently it’s being used (maybe because you aren’t metering the main load and submetering significant power consuming equipment at your facility), then your EMS will not be able to help you manage your demand costs.  Knowing where and when and how efficiently power is being used at every facility is the first and most essential requirement for any attempt to limit power demand, decrease energy consumption and lower your annual electric spend.  The GridPoint Energy Manager System offers hardware to control energy consuming equipment, sophisticated software and professional services to automatically manage your power demand, detect inefficient usage, and record your energy consumption.

rod

 

Rod McCrea
Solutions Engineer