By: Chris Tomasini, Vice President of Business Development
May 5, 2016

When we think “Internet of Things (IoT),” we immediately think in big picture terms. We envision an expanding network making lofty and revolutionary changes to the very fiber of civilization. But that’s not always the case.

In fact, I recently spoke with Energy Manager Today editor Carl Weinschenk about this topic. In his resulting article, titled “Energy Management Gets Granular with the IoT,” you’ll find that some of the most fundamental changes being made in IoT today—at least where energy management is concerned— are far more nuanced.

Looking Beyond the Low Hanging Fruit

When looking to lower energy consumption and reevaluate your building’s overall energy strategy, building owners and facility managers often look to the low hanging fruit first. These are generally the most obvious and easiest changes that can be made to generate results, such as upgrading vital HVAC equipment, switching to LED lighting, utilizing proper insulation, and implementing energy-conscious tenant practices.

As Carl explains in his piece, these have already been addressed. So, when those “easy gains are gone” —as he says— what do we do next?

Playing the Long Game

With those low hanging fruits already eaten, it’s time to reach higher into the tree. This requires a solution that can dig deeper in order to analyze the finer points of a building’s operations. Today, as a result of the IoT, we’re seeing a shift in the focus of energy management to incremental and consistent optimization over months and even years —made possible through the cloud. This is a natural next step in the market’s evolution. Once you’ve spent the large upfront costs to get cutting-edge equipment into a building, you are going to want to make sure it’s operating at its highest level of efficiency.

Cloud-based software solutions are allowing building owners and managers to drill down into the details of a building to better understand and detect patterns and inefficiencies. By accessing and evaluating real-time data on a daily basis, these platforms are able to identify opportunities for optimization to create additional savings, despite various and changing conditions.

This is an especially valuable approach for multitenant buildings and real estate management programs that may require customized solutions to meet a diverse set of tenant needs. Rather than a straight energy savings approach, it is a management approach.

With this in mind, we recently announced a strategic relationship with AMP Technologies. The aim of the agreement is to jointly offer our customer bases access to the widest variety of best-in-class software services to address the full range of commercial real estate management needs. As part of the agreement, BuildingIQ and AMP Technologies customers will have access to BuildingIQ’s Predictive Energy OptimizationTM (PEO) platform to manage HVAC operations and generate energy savings, as well as AMP’s Commercial Real Estate Business Intelligence platform. Users will now be able to monitor and manage financial heath, revenue strength, and tenant relationships.

Taking a Page out of Netflix and Spotify’s Playbook

As part of this shift, technology providers will also need to change their way of thinking and perhaps take some pointers from the consumer market. How can companies justify large, upfront capital expenditures to deploy these technologies when the promise isn’t that of major, immediate gains, but rather consistently delivered results?

With the rise and popularity of cloud-based services, we’re going to see the subscription model moving into more areas of the building management world, just as it has into our personal lives. Today, everything from movies to music to groceries can be purchased on a subscription basis. Users receive the access, without the large upfront costs of purchasing an entire movie or music library, and don’t have to maintain or manage them either.

The same principles that have made Netflix and Spotify successful can be applied to BuildingIQ. With BuildingIQ, costs aren’t front-loaded. Customers pay a set monthly fee from the very beginning. Due to its cloud-based nature, the platform is easily installed without any invasive changes to infrastructure and can begin processing a building’s information quickly. What’s more, the technology updates itself consistently and automatically, so it never becomes outdated. However, there is one big difference. BuildingIQ pays for itself with the energy savings and free cash flow it generates. Something you can’t say about your music or video service.

There’s a lot of opportunity for the IoT to shake up the energy management market. Much of it still unknown, but what’s clear is that it’s changing the way we think both as building owners and service providers.