It is always gratifying when a professional organization tells you that you’re part of a bright new future. Not only is your technology at the cutting edge but also your company is among a handful of leaders in a burgeoning new field. When two such organizations say essentially the same thing at the same time, we smile. Recently, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published papers that came to the same broad conclusion about the benefits and promise of data-based methodologies to improve energy efficiency.
NEEP’s paper, prepared for their annual forum on Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification (EM&V) focused on “the growing range of cloud-based software platforms that process large volumes of data quickly using publically available or proprietary algorithms. These solutions present opportunities to inform utility programs and [individual] EM&V efforts.” NEEP says these analytical tools (which they call EM&V 2.0) can provide, “rapid and continuous feedback to customers and [utility] programs” that address stakeholder concerns about the slow and costly EM&V procedures that are still the norm. These new tools, they say, not only provide faster measurement, they reduce the risk of surprise, and provide opportunities for timely course correction in HVAC operation. NEEP’s assessment was made after exploring the capabilities of six “high profile” SaaS (Software as a Service) providers, including of course, BuildingIQ.
ACEEE, which uses different terminology for the same software platform, said that, “The energy efficiency sector will be transformed by the ubiquity of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Stakeholders are beginning to use data analytics and machine learning to turn the data into information, and information into knowledge that can be acted upon.” ACEEE believes the industry will eventually be able to “measure energy savings with the same accuracy and fluidity that utilities now achieve in measuring electricity consumption.”
NEEP points out these tools have immediate value to utilities and regulators, and that new state regulations are driving acceptance of data-driven software platforms. New York State’s Revised Energy Vision, for example, now includes REC Track One provisions that promote data analytics for buildings. In California, AB 802, which passed in September 2015, provides building owners with greater access to whole-building energy information. Under AB 802, owners of commercial buildings with three or more active utility accounts and owners of multifamily properties with five or more accounts will be able to able to access whole-building energy information directly from the utility. This is crucial baseline information needed for the intelligent energy management of large, commercial buildings.
One pleasant surprise in the NEEP report was the implication that BuildingIQ may be ahead of the curve. They didn’t say so, but in one section it says, “Deployments of automated M&V are currently in the pilot stage.” This might sound strange to many of our customers who are not only using the automatic Predictive Energy Optimization™ (PEO) platform to manage their HVAC system, but using the embedded and automated M&V module as a matter of routine. The report goes on to say that, “Current research has not yet addressed the ability of these predictive models to measure energy savings after installation [of the energy efficiency measure], but future research planned by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LNBL) will address this issue.” We beg to differ. We are already there. To us, the installation of the energy efficiency measure PEO and the subsequent results-oriented number crunching (M&V) are not separate processes. Perhaps this discrepancy in pilot-versus-practice arises from the tight, seamless integration of our platform—they may think of us as one or the other but not both simultaneously. It may also stem from a greater focus by these organizations on the residential market, rather than the commercial building market where BuildingIQ holds sway.
All that quibbling aside, it is wonderful to see that BuildingIQ’s technology is being recognized by these highly reputable organizations, and that we are in the forefront of this bright new world of data automation.