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Facilities managers are focused on reducing costs and maintaining the most efficient building possible. The Environmental Protection Agency’s estimate that 30 percent of energy is wasted in a commercial building shows great need for improvement and an opportunity to reduce cost.
Energy management functionality offered through facilities management (CAFM) or enterprise asset management (EAM) software can help facilities track and analyze how building assets, spaces and even occupant behavior impacts energy usage and costs. This gives facilities managers the data to improve energy efficiency.
This guide is designed to explain the functions and benefits of energy management software (EMS). Here's what we’ll discuss:
What Is Energy Management Software?
These days, it can seem as if green is the new black. Environmental sustainability is on the minds of businesses spanning all industries.
When it comes to facilities management, the impetus to "go green" is particularly compelling, because it translates directly to savings on energy costs. Hidden energy costs can be lurking in unassuming corners of any building. Cracks in walls, dirty air filters or underperforming assets can all contribute to costly energy waste.
Those costs will remain hidden unless you take deliberate action to identify waste. That's where an EMS enters the picture. An EMS helps organizations track actual energy consumption data to see where it is being lost.
By working with your utilities provider, organizations can get specific usage data for individual floors or assets. This information will show you where to perform maintenance to increase energy efficiency.
Common Features of Energy Management Solutions
Each EMS is going to offer slightly different features and functionality. However, there are some core features you'll find in most EMS solutions on the market today.
The features listed below are those most common. They work together to collect, analyze and produce usable data to help facilities managers make smarter energy management decisions. They include:
|Data importing and collection||An EMS can collect and store energy billing and usage data from various sources, such as directly from meters or sensors, an existing building automation system or the utility company.|
|Bill tracking||Organizations should track energy bills to make sure the payments reflect actual usage. Over time, energy bill data can be analyzed to spot trends in the prices of different energy sources.|
|Reporting||Aggregates data into a useable format to find inefficient locations or energy-wasting assets. Users can factor in external influences on energy usage, such as weather, to help identify anomalies.|
|Energy dashboard||Can clearly display key performance indicators, such as consumption, costs and emissions for a single building or multiple facilities. Users can also view energy KPIs for individual properties.|
|Usage benchmarking||Helps facilities professionals compare their organization’s energy efficiency to a standard, such as Energy Star scores.|
Benefits of Energy Management Systems
Facilities professionals can significantly reduce building costs by tracking and analyzing energy usage data. An EMS allows you to:
Gain awareness. Without a way to collect energy usage data, it’s nearly impossible to know how energy is being used in your facilities. Gathering usage and billing data and running simple reports can reveal areas of significant energy waste.
Dashboards can clearly display energy KPIs, providing facilities professionals with a wealth of data at a glance.
Four KPIs displayed in UtilityTrac, an EMS solution from FacilityDude
Develop energy policy and reduce costs. This is the main goal of using an EMS. Once you find the energy management issues in your organization, facilities managers and executives can develop what is referred to as an energy policy. This policy may include optimal lighting and air-conditioning settings, benchmarking goals to reach and even behavioral policies for employees, such as reminders to shut off lights, computers or other equipment before leaving.
Over time, these policies can help reduce energy costs and the overall carbon footprint of your entire organization.
Comply with regulations. State and federal governments enforce energy regulations for commercial organizations regarding usage and carbon-abatement. To remain compliant, a company should track its energy usage so that proof of compliance can be generated quickly. And, you guessed it, an EMS can help do just that.
4 Steps to Improve Your Facility’s Energy Efficiency
We've talked about common features and benefits of an EMS solution. But realizing the benefits isn't as simple as adopting the software and waiting for everything to fall into place. When implementing an EMS, there are some important steps to take that will help you develop and execute on an energy management policy.
Software Advice has spoken with energy management experts to learn how to make the most of an EMS’s capabilities. Here, we share their insights. Experts suggest that facilities managers follow four key steps:
- Request submetering from the utility company. Upon request, a utility company can add submeters to your buildings, which offer energy usage data for individual floors. This gives you a greater level of detail to spot the specific cause of energy waste in a facility.
- Utilize software vendor resources to collect data. Many software vendors that offer an EMS also offer data integration services; some companies will even work with your utility provider to stream electronic usage and billing data directly into the system.
- Integrate Energy Star ratings. The EPA’s Energy Star rating grades a building on a scale from 1 to 100—the higher the number, the more energy-efficient your facility. After creating an account at Energystar.gov, you can enter data about your facilities and integrate the ratings into your CAFM or EAM to see the effectiveness of energy policies.
- Develop energy-saving initiatives. As mentioned above, creating an energy policy is the best way to reduce costs in the long run.
Read the report for more details and use our tool to estimate annual energy costs, which can show you whether your energy cost per square foot is above or below the national average for commercial businesses.