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5 Reasons A Wireless Energy Management Platform Should Top Your Holiday List

Posted on 10/21/2014 12:11 PM by Todd Sandford and Derek Johnson

The holiday season is fast approaching and gift swapping is quickly becoming top of mind. It’s not easy to find the right gift – something that fulfills both want and need with the added bonus of some practical benefit. Fortunately, when “shopping” for facility managers, the decision is easy: energy management platforms – the gift that keeps on giving.

Here are five reasons why an energy management platform should be at the top of holiday wish lists this year for facility managers: 

1) Stay Better Connected – Cloud-based energy management platforms can integrate seamlessly with existing connected management devices or serve as a strong starting point for adding intelligence to a commercial building. An energy platform can also leverage existing infrastructure, allow a building to be monitored by a team of outside experts, and are easily updated. With these platforms in place, the potential and ability to add future devices and services to create a highly responsive, fully connected and unified system is made easy. 

2) Ease of Control Over Everyday Operations – Commercial buildings account for 19% of the energy consumed in the US, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. In the face of rising energy costs, facility managers are looking for ways to improve energy usage in order to stay within set budgets. One of the greatest benefits energy management systems provide to a facility manager is the ease of control over everyday operations. With the right energy management platform, building managers are granted access to a comprehensive amount of data that allows them to better understand how energy is being consumed. Even better, it automatically acts upon this information to make continuous changes to building controls in order to optimize daily energy usage. With measurement and verification features, software can even verify its value and return on investment through benchmark comparisons and quantified savings.

3) Keep Occupants More Comfortable – An important aspect of commercial building management is occupant comfort. The challenge for facility managers is keeping conditions comfortable while reducing energy usage as costs continue to rise throughout the work day. Advanced energy management platforms don’t just report, but rather predict energy usage in order to make real-time adjustments to building controls – without disrupting occupant comfort or productivity. To do this, management platforms build upon existing building management systems to learn operations as well as external conditions, utility signals, and occupant habits. This information is used to forecast conditions for savings and optimize consumption before the opportunities are lost. 

4) Easy Installation – Implementing an energy management system does not require time- or cost-intensive retrofitting, and the platform can be functional in a matter of days. Additionally, since the software is automated, it will make changes without instruction, freeing up labor hours that can be allocated to other tasks and creating added value. It’s this same ease and adaptability that makes the software ideal to meet the needs of facility managers. Whether the goal is to cut costs and improve efficiency in one building or a portfolio of structures, this can be easily achieved with a unified platform.

5) Improve Relationships With Utilities – An energy management system can go a long way in improving the relationship between your commercial building and the local utility. In an effort to reduce peak demand, utilities identify specific times of the day when consumption is most intensive and the grid most pressurized. Peak demand hours are most commonly during the hottest times of the day and result in energy prices being at their highest. In most cases there will be a demand charge added to a commercial utility bill for using power during these times. Energy management platforms have the ability to respond and automatically reduce power consumption during these times, thus avoiding extra charges. If the local utility offers a demand response program, this technology opens the door to the utility paying the end user to reduce energy consumption during peak demand hours (which retail energy providers can assist in coordinating).

Energy management platforms are the ideal addition to any commercial building and are sure to provide numerous benefits for years to come. With these software solutions in place, a facility manager will gain a strong understanding of how energy is being consumed in their building. This knowledge provides a solid foundation for making energy-saving decisions and allows day-to-day operations to be managed with ease – making this a gift any facility manager won’t soon forget! 

Todd Sandford is vice president of energy solutions and customer operations for Direct Energy Business. Reach him at todd.sandford@directenergy.com. Derek Johnson is vice president of global operations at BuildingIQ. Reach him at news@buildingiq.com.

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Facility Doors: Faster May Be Better Than Fatter

Posted on 10/17/2014 12:42 PM by Jeff Wendt

The building envelope. When architects, building engineers and owners talk about that barrier to the great outdoors, the one thing everyone knows and acknowledges is that it will never be perfectly sealed. Careful door selection, however, can bring buildings closer to the ideal.

Buildings are among the country's largest users – and wasters – of energy in keeping the interior comfortable and productive. According to the EPA, commercial buildings consume around 15% of the country's energy, yet they emit 20% of the country's greenhouse gases – which both pollutes the environment and can increase operations costs.

One challenge to envelope integrity is specifying and installing doors that minimize this energy loss while allowing access to the facility, especially those large doorways that handle vehicular traffic. Throughout a year, thousands of dollars in energy can blow through these massive openings. 

The conventional wisdom around exterior doorways or for doors on walls that separate two extreme temperature differential environments is that the door panel has to match the thickness and insulation of the wall to which it is attached – to protect the doorway. This way of thinking prevailed in the building energy codes until recently – the problem is that a fat door is a slow door. 

Previously, building managers in facilities with a high rate of traffic had to make a choice – get a door that can go with the flow or one that can contain energy. Thanks to research recently released by the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA), commercial bbuilding owners and facility managers can be comfortable with achieving both the speed to keep the operation moving while protecting against energy loss and wasted cost. 

Depending up on the rate at which traffic moves through the doorway, door speed becomes more of a factor than the traditionally regarded door panel R-value for preventing energy loss and maintaining a productive environment. DASMA research found, factoring in average door size and other factors, that once the daily cycles hit around 55, the facility realizes the energy-saving benefits of high-speed doors operating over 30 inches per second. 

There are doors that operate more frequently than 55 times – at many industrial and distribution facilities, doors can cycle as much as 400 times a day. For these doorways, rapid door operation significantly minimizes the amount of time the door is open once a vehicle passes through the doorway. At this point, air exchange becomes more of an energy loss issue than heat transmittal though the door panel. 

Doorways on interior walls tend to see the highest traffic rates. Exterior doorways, though, are generally large, and along with the potentially high-energy loss, people tend to work around these doorways. Imagine the impact on productivity in winter when a heavy, lumbering door is taking many seconds to open and close, letting teeth-chatteringly cold air into the building. 

In 2015, this new criteria for doors will likely impact the standards incorporated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the International Energy Conservation Code. As a result, building owners and facility managers can put to use the kind of doors they know they need, not the kind they think they need. 

Jeff Wendt is dealer development manager at Rytec High-Performance Doors. He can be reached at jwendt@rytecdoors.com.

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Bad News Birds: The Cost of Bird Damage

Pest birds cause unexpected wear-and-tear on building exteriors. Facility managers must either budget thousands to clean up after pest birds, or implement a permanent bird control program and save time and money long-term.

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Keep Your Property a No-Fly Zone

As the weather continues to heat up, flies become very active. They can congregate around trash bins, cluster around windows, and take up permanent residence in your kitchens. Instead of reacting with chemical treatments right away, an integrated pest management (IPM) approach focuses on proactively managing pests through sanitation and facility management. Use these tips to address fly issues in a sustainable manner.  

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Building Maintenance and Pest Bird Damage: A Security Issue?

When it comes to building maintenance, pest bird control is sometimes treated as an after-thought. In other words, limited attention is given to a couple of perching seagulls until the entire flock has staged a coup and facility managers are scrambling to control and cleanup after the winged usurpers. However, what if we look at pest bird damage the way we do security issues? If there were teenagers loitering on the building premises – disturbing customers, making noise and leaving their trash behind for you to clean up, how would you ha ...

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Stay Cool with Window Film

Windows can be responsible for 30% of energy waste in buildings, according to the DOE. Learn how you can cut down on heating and cooling costs, improve daylighting, and increase occupant satisfaction with a variety of window films.

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Reduce Energy Use with Demand Response Options

With demand response (DR) and curtailment programs, building owners and managers can keep tenants cool and comfortable while taking advantage of financial rewards and reducing their energy use.

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Education, Engineering, and Enforcement

Education, engineering, and enforcement, also known as "The 3 E's" of fire prevention, are a hot topic in almost any fire trade magazine, website, and blog alike.

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What do Facility Managers Need to Know?

Facility managers today are expected to understand their company’s core business strategies and contribute to the bottom line — not only by reducing facility costs

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The Time is Right for Building Energy Efficiency

Making our buildings more efficient is vital to battling climate change, plus it’s just good business. Energy efficiency bridges the economy and the environment by saving money, producing jobs, reducing carbon pollution and creating much-needed economic activity.   President Obama said as much in his recent State of the Union speech while issuing a challenge to Americans to take control of their own energy future and improve the environment through increased use of clean energy.   “I’m also issuing a new goal for Amer ...

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Virtual Assessment versus On-Site Audit: What’s the Difference?

With the increasing focus on finding solutions that reduce building energy consumption, efficiency remains the most cost effective way to deliver savings.  The challenge most energy managers face, however, is figuring out which buildings have the best potential for savings and then identifying the combination of measures that are most appropriate for each site.  This problem is exacerbated over a large portfolio.  Consider that very high potential buildings can have 40% or more savings potential, whereas low potential buildings can hav ...

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Lightning Protection: Making a Wise Investment for your Smart Grid

Building with the smart grid in mind means taking the right precautions for new systems that have an even more critical set of protection concerns. A smart grid is only as strong as its weakest part and, in many locations, that weak part may be a building’s exposure to lightning. Ensuring maximum power quality, power reliability and asset protection becomes more important than ever as buildings adopt smart grid systems. Given that perspective, lightning is becoming a key consideration for the productivity, safety and sustainability of industrial ...

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