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Why Data Analytics in Buildings Can't Be Ignored

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Building and Facilities Management

Imagine a building where innovative management systems continuously offer simple and meaningful information about what is happening inside.

This data can be used to increase efficiency, develop smarter equipment maintenance protocols, create a healthier building environment, and, ultimately, lead to happier tenants.

Now, consider a building with no analytics in place for monitoring its systems. Equipment is breaking down, there are air quality and temperature issues, and energy efficiency isn’t even on the radar. Without concrete data, you are lacking the information you need to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. In fact, you may not detect them at all.

If you're not capitalizing on data analytics in buildings, you're not building or operating a truly smart building. And for today's contractors, engineers, and building owners, achieving the capabilities of smart buildings are essential to your success.

Achieving a Smart Building Through Analytics

A truly smart building combines a building management system with intelligent data analytics software that offers helpful insights for maintenance, service, and efficiency opportunities. 

Smart data analytics, together with a building management system, offer benefits for building owners, such as:

  • Providing a high-level, system-wide big picture data capture of your entire operations
  • Ensuring air quality control and a healthier building environment
  • Saving energy and energy consumption during off-peak or low occupancy periods
  • Eliminating waste from everyday system usage through intelligent sensor data 
  • Offering guidance for performance improvements for individual assets
  • Addressing equipment that really needs repair and not just those on a fixed schedule that don’t need to be serviced
  • Offering advanced automation capabilities and actionable results

In other words, smart data analytics provides system-wide opportunities for developing efficiencies, producing a healthier building environment, and improving comfort levels for tenants while reducing overhead expenditures. 

In addition to these benefits, the cost savings related to the use of smart data analytics can be significant. A 2019 study by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) found that the median energy savings realized by participants with energy information systems was 4%. For those with fault detection and diagnostic tools, that number rose to 9%. Collectively, the 45 study participants saved $59 million per year after integrating energy management and information systems tools. 

Let’s take a closer look at where these savings come from. 

Ensuring Comfort & Reducing Costs: A Case Study

Air quality and temperature data can reveal valuable information for creating a healthier, more comfortable environment for tenants. It’s also a prime opportunity for energy and cost savings. 

A 2017 paper looked at the case of a large, seven-story office building in Budapest, Hungary. The building was “designed and built according to state-of-the-art design and energy management principles in 2008,” yet energy bills were high and nearly half of workers in the building reported discomfort due to air quality and temperature issues. Through detailed analytics, researchers were able to identify the underlying problems.

The HVAC equipment in the Budapest office building was operating in 100% occupancy mode. However, when data was gathered from motion sensors, analytics reported broken and non-functioning sensors. The control link between the motion sensors and the fan coil unit was not working correctly, and “major energy losses were identified in both the heating and cooling systems.” Additionally, numerous operational mistakes meant that motion sensor data was only available for occupancy status, not occupant numbers. 

As a result of this analysis, faulty equipment was quickly repaired and changes were implemented to obtain an accurate occupancy count. Significantly, data analytics also allowed for the deployment of a “dynamic building energy model,” which performed ongoing automatic adjustments to internal HVAC and fan control systems integration. The result was improved occupant comfortability and reduced energy consumption during both low occupancy and peak demand periods, ultimately resulting in meaningful cost savings. 

The problems observed in this office building are not unusual. As the authors point out, “there is [often] a large gap between designed and actual, measured energy consumption in buildings.” Data analytics is essential for closing that gap. 

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Additional Benefits of Data Analytics in Buildings

While energy efficiency is typically a top concern for building owners, data analytics can also be used to streamline and reduce costs in other areas.

Eliminating Waste

Eliminating waste is a unique benefit of data analytics and can happen in many forms. For example, a bathroom supplies monitoring company was able to save 40% in overall costs by using sensors to determine when soaps and toilet paper rolls needed to be changed. Through data analytics, the company developed more efficient operations in terms of both material and labor. Similar methods can be used to monitor office supplies, break room inventory, and other building necessities.

Transforming Maintenance and Repair 

Preventive maintenance is an invaluable part of operating an efficient building, but not all routine maintenance is truly necessary. As a result, you may be wasting time, money, and manpower. Deploying smart data analytics allows you to monitor and identify the need for maintenance and repairs before breakdowns happen. This means:

  • Better human and equipment asset allocation
  • Fewer truck rolls, reducing pointless and redundant visits
  • More efficient maintenance procedures, including scheduled trips and maintenance around known issues and avoidance of expensive breakdowns and repairs
  • Extension of the life of your expensive assets
  • Protection of your systems from costly downtime

Backing up your maintenance calls with insightful data, prioritizing alarms, and addressing problems early will reduce costs and protect assets intelligently.

onPoint Analytics for Intelligent, Actionable Insights

At a time when efficiency is a key economic and environmental concern, data analytics in buildings are more important than ever before. As noted by the U.S. Department of Energy Smart Energy Analytics Campaign:

With sophisticated software applied to everyday building operations, building owners are now reaping the cost-saving benefits of analytics. That encourages the use of a wide variety of commercially available Energy Management and Information Systems (EMIS) technologies and ongoing monitoring practices to help uncover those energy-saving opportunities and improve building performance for the long run.

By pairing advanced building management systems with cutting-edge analytics like onPoint Analytics, you can truly realize the potential of smart technologies. onPoint shares intelligent, actionable insights about your building to improve operational efficiencies, enhance occupant comfort, and decrease costs. Ultimately, you’ll be operating a truly smart building that optimizes the potential of your business.  

onPoint offers intuitive reporting, intelligent alarms, and action-oriented system efficiency. For a better way to track, manage, and analyze your building data, contact us today.

 

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