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Using Your Building Management System to Achieve Energy Efficiency

Image of Laura Miller
Laura Miller

Though automated building management systems work towards improving energy efficiency, one of the biggest obstacles in achieving energy reduction is human beings. These include developers, building owners, facilities managers, tenants and other building occupants, designers, construction companies, and architects. As anyone who has been involved in a major project knows, the more people involved, the more difficult it becomes to reach agreement.

Each party has its own motivations. Many stakeholders prioritize short-term financial gains while others see them as long-term investments. Some seek to achieve environmental goals and create future-focused buildings, others want to optimize the immediate occupant experience. With an intelligent building management system, energy efficiency can be improved while also providing comfort, protecting investments, and generating income streams.

Obstacles to Energy Efficiency in Built Environments

As real estate investors continue to seek properties that maximize net operating incomes, developers are placed in a unique position to deliver projects that increase real estate revenues and decrease operating expenses. Sustainable building practices, especially those using smart building automation, can be instrumental in controlling these expenses and optimizing profitability for both building owners and tenants. 

Advanced building management systems, energy-efficient equipment, IoT technologies, and analytics can help optimize building performance and allow for efficiency-focused automation that significantly reduces operational costs. They can also prevent the need for major repairs by identifying maintenance issues before they become major problems and help you create attractive environments for tenants. With the right approach, an intelligent building management system can pay for itself in as little as 18 months. But nudging the building industry toward a more sustainable future must involve all stakeholders. 

The Stakeholders

Understanding the relationships and motivations involved in constructing, managing, and occupying a building can help stakeholders identify the best ways to improve energy efficiency. Those with long-term interests, such as operating developers, building owners, and tenants tend to have the most to gain from sustainable buildings and low utility costs. Capital providers and speculating developers are typically focused on short-term gains and have not historically considered energy use. However, as sustainability becomes increasingly attractive to buyers and occupants, energy-efficient buildings can be a smart investment. Meanwhile, many architects, designers, and construction professionals have an interest in cutting-edge, environmentally responsible projects and the technical expertise to make them happen.

While virtually all stakeholders can benefit from increased energy efficiency, the different motivations of the various players in the commercial real estate sector can make coming to an agreement on a specific plan challenging. 

Behavioral Obstacles

The behavior of building occupants can pose significant barriers to energy efficiency. Key behavioral areas to address include:

  • Customs, habits, and other behaviors that excuse or cause energy wastage. 
  • Lack of knowledge of available techniques or technologies. 
  • No interest in or otherwise undervaluing energy efficiency.
  • Lack of trusted sources for information and experience. 

Many of these obstacles can be resolved through education, though cultural aspects may offer a greater challenge. 

Economic Obstacles

Energy-efficient buildings generally require greater initial spending, which is why a variety of economic incentives are often used to encourage building owners and developers to invest in technology or designs supporting it. 

The economic factors affecting such investments include: 

  • Characteristics of building restrict more economical solutions. 
  • High capital costs and financial risks. 
  • Insufficient upfront funds for capital investment. 
  • Limited ROI expectations. 

To increase funds for energy-efficient buildings, all levels of government should partner with private entities to encourage greater investment in energy-saving technology. Offering tax incentives or grants can also foster investment. 

Institutional Obstacles

Larger organizations tend to be slow to adopt new technologies or techniques. This might be because of unclear policies, lack of coordination, opaque requirements, or slow authorization and implementation. Regardless of the reason, bureaucracy can either slow innovation or promote it. 

Institutional barriers to energy efficiency include:

  • Lack of skills or training within an organization to enact necessary changes. 
  • No adequate legislation. 
  • Overly complicated or insufficient regulatory processes. 

Public-private partnerships can help resolve miscommunication between developers and those making regulations, while training on appropriate energy-saving technologies and techniques can help employees or officials tasked with creating energy-efficient environments do their jobs. 

Using the Right Technology 

Integrating building systems into an intelligent building management system with smart technologies and analytics is one of the best—and easiest—ways to achieve Building Energy Management efficiency. The metrics gathered by these central control systems can drive objectives for energy usage for whole buildings, campuses, and even complementary facilities in different locations. From providing deep, objective insight into energy usage to allowing for efficiency-focused automation to prolonging the life of critical equipment, a well-architected building management system can transform how buildings function in both the short and long term. And cost savings does not just result from lower energy use.

As noted in Buildings magazine, integration can also save:

  • About 35 percent in operational costs. 
  • Up to 24 percent in installation costs.

Integrated building management also allows for design flexibility to incorporate additions and alterations to the system based on usage patterns without requiring additional investment. 

When onPoint Drives Your Building Management System Energy Efficiency Follows

An analytics platform is the heart of any advanced building management system. onPoint uses machine learning algorithms to build upon established structural knowledge, taking building management beyond limited automation and traditional diagnostics and fault detection. Designed by building experts, onPoint can provide actionable insights, make pragmatic recommendations, and enable sophisticated automation to reduce energy use and enhance performance. With a mobile-first interface and customizable reporting, onPoint can support all stakeholders and help you create more sustainable, comfortable buildings.

Ready to see how onPoint can help your building energy management goals?

Watch the 5-minute demo video to learn more.


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