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3 Ways Energy Managers are Responding to COVID-19

September 22, 2020

Adaptive energy managers and facility teams face new challenges responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those managing energy consumption in office parks, high-rises, educational institutions, and manufacturing plants are learning new guidelines from industry leaders like ASHRAE for safe building operations and healthy workspaces. Using these guidelines as roadmaps for increasing their buildings’ safety, teams have focused on three key areas to improve within their operations.

  • Publicly communicating safety initiatives
  • Harnessing the power of real-time data
  • Implementing remote monitoring

In this blog, we'll highlight each of these key areas, and ways the robust features within Building Insights help teams manage and optimizing their buildings going forward.

Communicating safety measures

The connection between public health and built environments is more relevant than ever in occupant safety discussions. In an effort to buy in with these safety measures, energy managers are initiating thoughtful exchanges with occupants, tenants, and other team members.

Best communication practices with tenants and occupants say, “keep it simple.” Use appealing visuals and charts instead of distributing technical reports. Consider signage or short videos to showcase the activities planned to keep occupants and visitors safe.

For internal communications, centralize and ensure the availability of data logs, IAQ metrics, HVAC readings, etc. Access to critical operational facts and figures means staff spend more time working and less time searching for reports.

Using real time data displays

Teams are stretched thin working to ensure energy consumption matches current occupancy levels while also preparing the indoor environment is safe and comfortable whenever workers return. ASHRAE and other industry guidelines indicate IAQ and other building health metrics will largely depend on occupancy levels during a given timeframe. It is essential building operators have real-time data in order to forecast usage needs and respond to changing conditions. They need automated alerts to efficiently manage varying consumption needs and keep their buildings compliant with health and safety measures.

Using energy management tools that generate real time data empowers teams to:

  • Model future energy use: Using calculated meters within Building Insights, teams can forecast expected energy use while accounting for the increased ventilation, which improves the team’s understanding of how to attribute changes in energy use to newly implemented occupant safety procedures.
  • Focus on top priorities: Setting alerts based on changes in air quality, air filter conditions, or indoor humidity levels, enables teams to prioritize these crucial safety measures above daily operations.

The Building Insights Projects app uses the industry-standard International Performance Measurement & Verification Protocol (IPMVP) Option C to track energy and cost savings. Because weather, occupancy, and other variables significantly impact energy usage, a regression model is the only way to accurately conduct measurement and verification.

Implementing remote monitoring

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, only about 10% of U.S. buildings had the resources to monitor facility performance from a central platform. Teams preparing their facilities for increased occupancy need remote access to the comprehensive building performance metrics that help monitor peak efficiency. Remote monitoring gives energy managers

A bird’s eye view of portfolio-wide usage: Easily accessing data around indoor air quality (IAQ), power usage effectiveness (PUE), ventilation, humidity, and temperature, provides a better insight into overall building comfort and energy use. Centralizing information from a variety of building systems and sensors allows teams to quickly verify building performance without wasting valuable time accessing various building systems

Tools to stay on top of building schedules and setbacks: Building schedules and setbacks may need more frequent adjusting to account for occupancy changes. Remote monitoring allows teams to verify buildings are running as expected based on current demand, reducing the chances of unwanted usage peaks.

Cost reduction opportunities via continuous commissioning : Continuous commissioning is essential to energy efficiency and budget management. And since some costs will inevitably rise as buildings reopen with expanded safety measures, remote monitoring helps teams manage expenses in other areas.

When the Building Insights team began working remotely, we used our platform to monitor performance, ensuring we would retain benefits gained from our energy reduction work to date. You can learn more about how the Building Insights team monitored their energy here.

Energy managers and facility teams are responding to unprecedented facility operations challenges. Running their buildings during a pandemic is extraordinary work, demanding uninterrupted attention to maintaining healthy, safe, and cost-efficient indoor environments.

As your commercial properties reopen, the energy management solutions you and your team select become increasingly consequential. Our BOS team is here for your team. Ask us questions; request links to industry resources or case studies.