Energy Management Systems
Knowledge means efficiency.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of Business Energy.
There’s a saying in energy efficiency circles: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
“That’s the beginning, and it’s an eye-opener,” points out John Browne, applications engineer for Continental Control Systems. “People have no idea what’s going on. But, looking at the building energy consumption can tell you all sorts of things. A time-series plot of kilowatt demand throughout a day, week, or month allows you to see the cycles of energy use, and, when something is broken, right away you can see it. You don’t need to do a numerical evaluation. It’s just obvious when you plot it out that way.”
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The common denominator among those employing energy management approaches is rising energy costs, points out Damian Smith, president/chief engineer for Total Energy Concepts. “It’s a hot topic as far as financials go, because it’s a direct expense that affects the bottom line,” he says. “When your costs go up on your expenses and you don’t increase your revenue, obviously your bottom line gets a little shorter.”
Chrissy St. John, marketing manager for Fluid Conservation Systems (FCS), concurs, adding that energy efficiency is a potential revenue stream of sorts—an underused asset that can be valuable to improve business performance and reduce unnecessary waste. “In order to manage energy consumption effectively, it is necessary to monitor what, where, and how resources are being used,” she points out. “It is only by accurately measuring and monitoring usage that efficiencies can be identified and savings can be made.
Credit: Delta Controls
Delta Controls enteliWEB software
provides cost-saving information.
“Despite its name and purpose, energy efficiency was not traditionally very efficient,” adds St. John. “Replacing all of the light bulbs or toilets was a blanket approach that was certain to achieve some savings, but did not target its efforts or costscompared against the benefit.
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“This is where data is the key, and where the idea of intelligent efficiency shines,” she continues. “With an accurate picture of where the greatest inefficiencies are, efficiency-improving measures can be accurately focused to achieve the greatest return on investment. With the technology now available to
easily gather data on anything, anywhere, it is possible to see exactly how to most effectively implement efficiency measures.”
Continental Control Systems manufactures power and energy meters, which are integrated into a building automation system (BAS) to provide an engineered energy management solution. Bringing energy measurements into a BAS “allows thebuilding owner to implement a demand response program,” says Browne. “Utility companies are starting to charge time-of-use rates based on the time of day when energy is used. The price changes throughout the day. By knowing what your
energy consumption is, a building control system can take
evasive action to reduce energy consumption.”
Such is the benefit of an energy management system (EMS) and its related components.
Case in point: the Medical Education and Research Institute (MERI) in Memphis, TN—a non-profit medical training institute providing hands-on educational courses for physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals—was remodeled in 1995.
The facility is more than 27,000 square feet, spanning three floors with laboratories for medical research and practical learning for individuals. The training facility introduces them firsthand to the latest innovations in the medical field through the latest technologies and techniques.
Despite the critical mission of the facility, there were no control systems in the building. Rather, the building was primarily controlled by an Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) system on the rooftop that provided fresh air and cooling to the first two floors. It ran non-stop, year-round, sending air to 24 VAV boxes that were all individually controlled in each served area.
Facility managers sought to get energy expenditures under control. They also experienced inconsistent comfort conditions throughout the building and sought a solution to address both of those challenges. Because it is a medical research facility, different areas of the building needed to be kept at a wide range of temperatures year-round. Additionally, the doctors and assistants needed labs kept at comfortable temperatures.
The solution came from the Delta Controls enteliWEB system with a Kaizen Energy package. Delta Controls offers a local energy metering and reporting package as well as both cloud-based and local analytics packages for facilities.
For MERI, a Building Management System (BMS) was installed to integrate systems throughout the building:
- Delta Controls DSM-RTR, an Ethernet to MS/TP system manager, is used for energy management and monitoring.
- Delta Controls DAC-606s, Ethernet-enabled high-speed application controllers, are installed in multiple conference rooms, meeting rooms, hallways, and the shipping office so that occupant comfort can be monitored and maintained for each room.
- Delta Controls eBCON, a modular central system controller, is controlling and monitoring multiple VFDs, along with lighting motion sensors on all floors to control lighting by schedule and motion override.
- Delta Controls DVC-322, an Ethernet-enabled, fully programmable VAV controller, is used to monitor airflow of the morgue and ensure that it meets strict temperature requirements, including tissue bank certification requirements. An independent airflow test and balance company certified the Delta Controls system had achieved the correct supply and return airflow inside the morgue.
The installation had to be done while the building was fully operational. That challenge was met by Osborne & Osborne, which provides mechanical, electrical, and automation services to the industrial and commercial sector. The Delta controllers are used throughout the building to ensure that the laboratory requirements are met without sacrificing the occupants’ comfort. All of the boilers, hot water pumps, steam generators, vacuum pumps, and air compressors are being monitored and controlled through one interface.
The facilities staff at MERI was trained to adjust set points on energy usage based on the building’s changing occupancy. The metering of energy usage in Kaizen and enteliWEB is designed to help staff understand the actual energy versus perceived energy usage throughout the building. Catching problems early through event logs, alarms, and e-mail notifications has reduced maintenance and costly repairs.
Delta Controls manufactures a line of building, lighting, and access controls. The company’s software has the most direct impact on energy and cost savings for such facilities as healthcare and data centers, notes Shane Murphy, technical marketing specialist.
enteliWEB is designed to empower individuals within a building to make it easier to do their jobs and know more about their facility such as energy reporting and costings for financial billing, he notes. “This can be anyone within a building, such as teachers able to change lighting or book a room, or office workers able see their own work space settings, adjust parameters, and see energy use for their area,” says Murphy, adding that a typical system requires expertise beyond the scope of the individual.
enteliWEB dashboards are designed to be specific to the person who’s connected or the type of user profile logged in. “There’s a graph for energy use, lighting control is at your fingertips, and the temperature controls are intuitive,” points out Murphy. “Anything you need can be added from scheduling rooms to links for creating reports. The result is that people who would normally never touch a BAS, are right at home making meaningful changes within their environment.”
Murphy states that in most commercial buildings, very few people have a handle on how energy is being used. “They can have a state-of-the-art BAS, but when 90% of the occupants aren’t given access to it, how do you expect people to make changes in their energy usage habits? The home automation market has shown us that people are definitely savvy enough to understand information about their environment and energy use,” he says.
Energy management “has to be a long-term view by the building owners, and it involves a commitment not only to collecting the data, but then acting upon it, taking advantage of the information that is provided, and looking at not only the time-sensitive data in periods of time when they’re using peak amounts of energy, but also at what loads are using that energy inside of a facility. They learn a lot more and are actually able to make very targeted improvements to the efficiency of their facility,” notes Tim Van Slambrouck, vice president of sales and marketing for Dent Instruments.
Dent Instruments manufactures single-point and multi-circuit, high-density sub-metering products, which are power meters that provide information to third-party data acquisition systems such as EMSs or building control systems via an industrial language like Modbus or BACnet. The power meters are designed to measure the actual energy consumption by measuring the volts and amps consumed by a facility and communicate the information to a building control or EMS, serving as the front-end metering engine that provides the data for the analytics done by the EMS.
The meters are typically integrated into a private label such as Siemens building technologies, for example, which then packages it with their analytics and control system for the end customers, Van Slambrouck says.
Credit: Davidge Controls
Davidge Controls EZMeter
He cites reports indicating that by employing EMSs routinely, facilities managers can save 10 to 15% per year in energy costs with a return on investment of one to three years. “If people are taking a long-term view and assuming oil and energy is not in fact an infinite resource, and despite what’s going on in the stock market, energy costs are not going to go down,” he says. “This is a long-term commitment to sustainability and efficiency in an organization.”
Meters play a key role in energy management, such as the two different types of electric meters manufactured by Davidge Controls.
One, EZ Meter, is a revenue-grade billing meter that allows landlords, property managers, and marina owners the ability to provide accurate billing to tenants for the consumption they use. “It’s a form of energy management that goes away from the model of ‘the bill is this amount, and everyone pays an equal amount’ to people being held accountable for what they actually use,” says Ryan Fetgatter, general manager of Davidge Controls, manufacturer of EZ Meter. “I can tell you from personal experience that if I’m being given a bill for the electricity I’m using, that air conditioner is not going to be on all of the time.”
Another meter, EZ Cube, is what Fetgatter terms “true energy management,” used by energy engineers in industrial and commercial buildings and facilities “where they want to monitor not from a revenue perspective per se, but to measure how much they are using,” says Fetgatter. It offers the ability to interface with any software or data logging system.
“They want to get the volts, the amps, the power factor, the
frequency,” he says.
That allows facility owners and operators to do preventative maintenance, he adds. “They get time-of-use demand,” says Fetgatter. “They are able to tell when a compressor is going to be failing, or when an HVAC unit is going to go down, or something along those lines. It’s just by monitoring the efficiency of the motors and the machine that’s going on.”
Government regulations—local, state, and federal—are fueling increased energy management. “They’re saying they want large companies to be more responsible in their usage,” says Fetgatter. “Time-of-use came about because during peak hours from noon to 4 p.m. in Los Angeles, you’re paying almost 20 cents more per kilowatt-hour. They want people to be shutting down during those hours and not overloading the grid. This is also achieved by using energy management.”
Energy management offers cost efficiencies from the point of installation, notes Fetgatter. Davidge Controls offers a consolidated approach by which one meter does two outputs, designed to make it more affordable for end users to install the systems, Fetgatter says. Additionally, a number of rebate programs are available which speed up the return on investment, he adds.
Credit: Dent Instruments
A facility engineer checks the ELITEpro
XC Power Meter with a smartphone.
Davidge Controls recently signed on as part of the California Solar Initiative in which those who use solar-powered alternative energy get rebates, with the usage monitored by meters such as those offered by the company.
Similar initiatives are in place elsewhere in the country, such as in New York and New Jersey, Fetgatter notes. “These are all programs that are helping move energy management and the smart energy world forward,” he says.
FCS’ line of products are designed to address efficiency issues through the use of tiny, battery-powered sensors that can be installed to monitor electricity, gas, and water meters, heat, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels in a single room. FCS uses low-cost telecommunications services to gather data instantly, wirelessly and seamlessly, allowing users to view and analyze their network performance from a computer, tablet, or smartphone anywhere in the world, says St. John.
The OmniColl system by FCS is a modular-based communications platform used to carry data from thousands of monitoring points for multiple applications without the need for wiring or expensive communications charges, she says, adding that the system is designed to give a near real-time view of the end users’ resources with no hidden costs.
The OmniColl system is designed to efficiently collect information and present data for quick and easy analysis, enabling potential cost savings and network events to be identified almost immediately, says St. John. It uses a modular, radio-based communications platform to provide rapid data transfer, with the ability to integrate different measurement parameters. The system automatically collects data from thousands of monitoring points every 15 minutes without any wired connections or even mains power.
OmniColl is suitable for all currently available sensors, says St. John. “For example, the same system can be used to read meters, analyze building performance, and provide energy efficiency modeling,” she says. “Collected readings are sent securely by GPRS, SMS, or Ethernet to FCS’s DataGate portal, where they can be forwarded directly to a third-party software system or viewed from any internet-enabled device using the secure graphing, reporting, and alert management website.”
A BACnet power and energy meter
from Continental Control Systems
Data management tools include the ability to view, compare, chart, and create custom fleet reports. Automatic alarms also can be configured to send alerts to specified phone numbers and e-mail addresses when preset alarm conditions are met. “For example, a common setup uses transmitters on local sensors within a building, which transmit their data to FCS’ onsite, centrally located data concentrator—the RT:Wi5,” says St. John. “The RT:Wi5 is a key part of our energy management solution, designed to provide a cost-effective way of collecting data from transmitters and sensors for infrastructure analysis.”
It is comprised of an integrated data storage device, RF receiver, and a communications card for the GPRS data transfer. Once deployed, the RT:Wi5 collects all the local information, then automatically uploads that data at pre-defined intervals to any third-party monitoring software or to FCS’ secure Web viewing with minimal data transfer costs.
“This not only saves on the ongoing expense, but also massively reduces the amount of wiring necessary to monitor potentially hundreds of points,” says St. John. “Such a setup also could incorporate extra sensors using GPRS for outlying areas beyond the range of radio, seamlessly integrating their readings into the data stream.”
Once safely on a secure Web server, users and software packages can utilize historical data, calculated projections, and correlated comparisons to immediately see where the biggest, fastest, and most effective efficiency savings can be made, she says.
Another approach to energy management comes through energy surveys such as those offered by Total Energy Concepts.
The company offers a holistic approach to energy conservation that examines power quality, HVAC optimization, ventilation, panel maintenance, grounding, and lighting. The survey is augmented by an examination of a facility’s previous 24 months of electric utility history.
From there, a team puts together a package based on human observation, which is fed into a computer program that generates the numbers on energy savings and the return on investment.
The package of suggested equipment upgrades or replacements is based on saving energy and power quality improvements, notes Smith. “We make sure that the facility is using the least amount of energy it needs to use to do the exact same amount of work it needs to do,” he says.
End users can pay for the upgrades either outright or through company-based financing options. Some choose to break up the package in phases such as lighting, HVAC, and power, Smith notes.
The ability to monitor expenses in real time with such technologies as EMS dashboards helps optimize the efficiencies brought about by equipment that upgrades or replaces less efficient equipment. Most facilities managers focus on HVAC systems, says Smith, adding that his company offers a system that can be wirelessly controlled from a phone or computer.
“That aspect alone has merit for savings, because a lot of companies we deal with don’t have it,” adds Smith. “If they have thermostats, they’re not set properly, so they may be cooling their building 24 hours a day when it only needs to be cooled 12 hours a day. There’s a lot of merit as far as becoming more digital and dynamic with controls.”
An average return on investment in energy-efficient lighting and technologies are derived from 24 to 30 months. Additionally, there are substantial tax incentives and utility rebates and incentives that bring down costs, Smith says, adding that average energy savings range from 12 to 30%