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The Future of Intelligent Building Energy Management Systems Relies on Smart Strategies

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Clint Bradford

As a leader in architectural engineering, Pennsylvania State University has been at the forefront of sustainable building technology, with the university committed to making its campus more energy efficient while also designing and testing cutting-edge energy appliances and power systems. This primarily happens in two university-owned buildings in the decommissioned Philadelphia Navy Yard. There, researchers test energy systems and experiment with real-world solutions to support sustainable construction.

These buildings have become a training ground for electricians, engineers, and other energy professionals looking at how to adapt new technology to architecture. And their value is immense. As Assistant Research Professor Mark Stutman says, “If buildings continue to be built with ‘business as usual,’ the greenhouse gas impacts are going to be pretty devastating to future generations.” The discoveries being made at Penn can help change that.

But the future of intelligent building energy management systems (EMSs) isn’t just a distant idea. Many of the strategies that will help you reduce your carbon footprint are available today. By looking ahead, building owners, facility managers, and energy managers can get a head start on creating Building Energy Management strategies that make sense financially and environmentally for years to come.

What Will Intelligent Building Energy Management Systems Look Like?

In the future, intelligent building energy management systems will likely seek to increase: 

  • Cost savings on energy
  • Energy efficiency 
  • Flexibility in power generation
  • Reductions in carbon dioxide emissions
  • Stability in energy provision
  • Human health and safety

On a large scale, this means that building energy management systems will likely control sections of cities through microgrids that utilize renewable energy generated onsite or nearby while also integrating innovative materials that help conserve energy. 

However, not all energy management will happen on such a scale. Instead, reducing energy use will rely on deploying smart technologies and strategies in individual buildings. This is where most building owners should concentrate their efforts.


While analytics within an energy management system has multiple purposes, a key function involves managing energy usage. As analytics software and smart devices gather more data, this data becomes more detailed, allowing the software to examine and resolve increasingly complex problems. In a nutshell, the more data gathered on energy management, the more detailed the questions the energy management system can help answer. 

As machine learning (ML) becomes more advanced, ML algorithms will give analytics programs more power to modify operations and increase the efficiency of intelligent building energy management systems optimally. A key element of smart building technology, ML will continue to evolve until its ability to analyze and even understand the data will far surpass that of humans. 

In the future, intelligent building energy management systems likely will also be tasked with receiving and storing power from electricity generated onsite, sharing excess electricity with a neighborhood microgrid when able, and drawing from these sources as needed. 

sensors-2aEnvironmental Quality and Occupancy Sensors

Energy management systems are going to expand beyond the metering and HVAC functions in traditional building systems. Environmental quality sensors will play a key role in this. Objective data about environmental conditions such as indoor air quality can guide the way you address health and safety issues while also helping you manage energy consumption. 

Occupancy sensors are already becoming a common way to regulate energy consumption based on how many people are using a space. An intelligent EMS can make real-time adjustments to building systems like HVAC and lighting in response to occupancy data. 

control-1aActive Command and Control

Active command and control of energy-consuming systems will become more important as businesses demand more flexible workspaces and consumer habits change. An intelligent EMS should allow you to control building equipment more effectively and help reduce energy consumption during low traffic times while ensuring occupants have what they need when they need it.

Obstacles to Managing Energy in Intelligent Buildings

Three of the biggest obstacles for intelligent building energy management systems and how to overcome them include:

  • EMSs need to provide a certain degree of comfort to building occupants, as every person has a different idea about what a comfortable environment feels like. Creating a comfortable environment and increasing energy efficiency are often seen as conflicting goals, especially in commercial high-rise buildings. With the right EMS, though, building operators can implement strategies that help them achieve both priorities at the same time.

  • Intelligent building management systems are ideal for identifying systems and equipment that require preventive maintenance. However, without service contracts in place that can address small but necessary repairs, these can easily turn into much bigger problems. Some EMS providers offer their own service contracts connected directly with their software, so placing work requests and tracking resolutions can all be done from the same BMS you’re using everyday.

  • Competing interests between building owners and tenants, or even between different tenants, can make energy management more difficult. Generally, those paying the utility bills will seek energy-efficient solutions that lower costs while occupant businesses prioritize the comfort of employees and clients. The visibility you get from a comprehensive BMS with advanced energy management capabilities makes it easier to manage these competing priorities and even work toward making everyone happy at the same time.

Understanding these obstacles and how to work around them will help stakeholders create better strategies for reducing energy use.

Creating Solutions

Choosing the best system for building energy management is key to creating a future-focused intelligent building energy management system. So too is choosing a partner who understands the needs of all stakeholders and can help you develop pragmatic solutions. onPoint is designed to address evolving energy management needs in a way that makes sense for building owners, facility managers, and occupants. 

onPoint is a cloud-based intelligent building management platform (IBMP) that offers real-time monitoring, in-depth insights, and proactive solutions. This innovative technology turns building data into a powerful force for change and allows you to realize the full benefits of a smart building energy management system. With onPoint, you can create a greener, more sustainable portfolio while getting the most out of your investment.

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