As increasing energy costs in commercial and industrial buildings continue to be a significant challenge, more building owners are using building energy management systems (BEMS) to cut energy waste as means of improving operating costs and net operating income.
Commercial buildings account for nearly 20% of U.S. energy consumption and 12% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the US Energy Information Administration. However, almost 30% of energy in commercial buildings is wasted due to inefficient processes and management.
One of the best ways to reduce energy waste in commercial and industrial buildings is by using specialized software or building energy management systems.
What is a building energy management system (BEMS)?
BEMS is a software application that continually monitors and analyzes a building’s energy use. It is different from a building management system in that its focus is to track and reduce the energy consumption rather than track and monitor the overall performance of the building’s systems.
BEMS software generally monitors how much energy is used by lighting, heating and cooling, and security systems, and are especially useful for detecting energy drifts, or changes in energy use over time.
Many large-scale commercial buildings and manufacturing facilities use BEMS software to monitor a building’s energy demands and reduce costs related to energy consumption and waste.
BEMS connects to an existing build management or building automation systems and combines data from these systems to provide a more complete and accurate view of the building’s energy use. Many building energy management systems will also add external information such as utility billing, electrical grid, and weather data to provide insights and save costs.
Since BEMS usually work with existing systems, they can be implemented quickly and are also more cost-effective because they don’t require purchasing new devices or sensors. Once the BEMS starts collecting data from existing infrastructure and systems, it will compile a full view of energy use in the building.
Owners and managers can then set up dashboards to view energy use and analyze key performance indicators over time making it easy for facility managers to find areas of high energy use and make improvements to reduce energy costs.
Fault detection and diagnostics from BEMS help reduce downtime and O&M costs, adding to the energy savings from merely optimizing equipment setpoints and setting timers. Advanced building energy management systems can save 13-66% on energy costs depending on whether they are designed with detection and diagnostics, historical analysis and predictive capabilities.
Further tying HVAC with the BEMS can also maximize savings by customizing air conditioning and heating demands to the needs of the occupants using technologies such as multi-speed fans and demand control ventilation which can reduce cost by 24-32% depending on the building type.
When paired with networked lighting systems the BEMS can do a comparative analysis of whether the impact on HVAC energy use that results from adjusting smart windows to let in sunlight will be smaller or more significant than darkening the windows and turning the lights up.