The Internet of Things or IoT is the newest phenomenon to hit many sectors and the energy sector is not behind. IoT enabled systems are increasingly being used for intelligent energy management in buildings.
The question is: What is IoT?
Or better still:
How can this new phenomenon tilt the odds in your favor? And how can you use IoT to maximize your energy performance contracts?
This post will attempt to reveal all that you need to know to ace Energy Performance Contracts relating to commercial buildings with the aid of IoT.
Energy Performance Contracts
Energy Performance Contracts (EPC) or Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC) is an alternative financing initiative of the U.S Congress aimed at encouraging cost-effective measures that will lead to effective energy conservation in public buildings.
With EPC, it is possible to complete projects targeted at saving energy without paying up-front for such projects. Financing is sourced from the private sector by an Energy Service Company (ESCO) who is also tasked with providing solutions that will save energy.
The catch here is that the ESCO will guarantee that the measures taken will lead to savings in energy costs that will be enough to cover for the project cost over the duration of the contract
EPCs are gaining popularity in Europe, Australia and Canada to help them meet their ambitious energy savings goals such as being fossil-free by 2020.
IoT- More than just a 3 letter word
Simply put, IoT stands for “Internet of Things.” According to Wikipedia, this catchy term refers to “the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to inter-operate within the existing Internet infrastructure.” Interestingly, by 2020, experts envision that about 20 billion things will be interconnected using IoT.
What this suggests is that daily routines as we know it today will change dramatically especially in public buildings. IoT systems are now being used for effective energy management in buildings such as energy conservation, energy price variations, weather data and data based on occupant’s behavior to produce actionable insights to create an energy efficient and sustainable buildings. How can use these insights to maximize the outputs of your energy efficiency contracts?
Here we take a look at the various aspects that IoT can help you with that goal.
Benefit of IoT to Energy Performance Contracts
The biggest draw of IoT is its ability to acquire and collate data from sensors embedded in connected devices. By incorporating IoT in various systems and equipment of commercial buildings you can monitor and analyze energy utilization data in real-time. This therefore can be used to make prompt knowledge-based decisions that are geared towards ensuring energy efficiency in the building or across various public buildings.
Devices like HVAC, lighting, and security systems when connected can help the commercial property managers cut cost on energy bills and also improve the operational efficiency of all the systems. That’s not all; data gathered can also be used to determine service and maintenance decisions. This predictive element in designing a maintenance program can help reduce system downtime and also avoid sudden equipment breakdown. To the property owner and users of such commercial properties, these advantages are golden. The ongoing measurement and monitoring that IoT provides is the biggest advantage that will help you maximize your energy performance contracts.
The magic formula that will maximize your energy performance contracts
Now that you are aware of the benefits of IoT to your business as an EPC provider or a commercial property owner, it would be to your advantage if you take the following measures in order to get the desired results.
- Identify the specific objective: avoid getting caught up in an IoT maelstrom. When this happens, focus is lost which in turn leads to decreased efficiency, which eventually hampers the efforts targeted at saving energy costs. Don’t get burnt, here is something that you should consider doing: determine the topmost priority of the building owner and tailor your approach on this basis.
In this case, energy efficiency and energy savings is the most important consideration that should be clearly defined and prioritized. This should be agreed upon by all the stakeholders beforehand. The specific objective once identified should be reflected in the written agreement and it is on this premise that evaluations will be made; therefore it should be as detailed as possible.
It would be best to adopt this approach to avoid embarrassments and misunderstandings that might hamper the reputation of your business.
- Don’t neglect resources and funding: Energy Performance Contracts are centered on creating “spend-to-save” projects. Therefore it is important to determine appropriate resources and funding sources, as this is integral to the success of the project. Whatever the funding approach, whether it is self, a third party or a mix of various approaches, it is vital that it is clearly detailed out. Most importantly it should factor the cost that is required to implement the IoT system taking into account it’s inherent complexities as well as laying out a comprehensive plan.
- Identify Baseline Data: At the heart of using IoT to maximize Energy Performance Contract is the reduction of energy costs. Therefore, as a contractor, you should base your decisions on quality information that will help you develop solutions that are best suited to the property more quickly.
Initial building and equipment assessment in relation to the set objectives of the project should be carried out in order to have a clear understanding of what is expected. It is with this baseline data that you’ll be able to assess the level of success of the project as it relates to improvements made to cut energy costs.
- Optimize your technology solution: When selecting technological solutions- whether it is hardware or software; opt for one that is best suited for the property, potential use cases and tenants. Choose a network system that is robust yet adaptable enough to accommodate new devices. Also, wireless technology trumps wired devices in commercial properties and it should be given more consideration.
Bottom-line, your choice of technology in an IoT system should have considerable degree of flexibility.
- Get the right help: Setting up a comprehensive IoT system in commercial buildings can be overwhelming due to their size and, design, and usage. The IoT process involves the detection, collection, and transmission of a complex mix of data that requires detailed handling to make the most of it. Armed with this information, you should always settle for a partner or a service provider that has the prerequisite know-how and experience in building automation systems.
At the end of the day, what every commercial property owner or manager is concerned with are results. This is also what will make or mar your Energy Performance Contracts. Whether it is improved energy efficiency, cutting energy costs, or enhancing comfort, having IoT systems incorporated in your contracts will do the magic. And this is what will put you in good stead in the eyes of your clients making you their top choice.