A total of 104 U.S. companies, schools, governments, and institutions have used the Department of Energy’s Smart Energy Analytics Campaign, a four-year initiative funded through the Building Technologies Office and facilitated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to expand the use of energy management and information systems (EMIS) in commercial buildings.
The Smart Energy Analytics Campaign helped drive approximately 4 trillion BTUs of annual energy savings reducing the campaign participants’ collective energy bills by $95 million a year. The research also enabled Berkeley Lab to create what it claims to be the world’s biggest collection of data on building energy analytics. This dataset represents the first real-world, large-scale body of evidence of EMIS’ value to commercial buildings.
“Buildings account for nearly 40% of the energy used in the United States, with a total bill well over $400 billion per year,” said Jessica Granderson, Berkeley Lab’s research deputy of the Building Technology & Urban Systems Division and leader of Berkeley Lab’s efforts in the campaign. “Energy management and information systems are smart building analytics technologies that reveal hidden energy waste and provide predictive, optimized control. They are critical to achieving major reductions in energy use and to providing healthy, grid-interactive efficient building and energy performance transparency.”
Nationwide, if buildings throughout the commercial sector adopted EMIS best practices, the resulting savings in annual energy costs could total $4 billion, Berkeley Lab said. Campaign participants—including Sprint, Kaiser Permanente, and Stanford University—implemented or expanded existing EMIS programs during the campaign and saved millions of dollars, the entity added.
The campaign, a public-private partnership with businesses and public-sector organizations, has supported analytics technology use in over 6,500 buildings totaling 567 million square feet of floor space. It allowed Berkeley Lab experts to offer technical assistance and provide industry partners with frequent opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction, including exchanging best practices.
Researchers found that average installation and software costs ranged from two to eight cents per square foot, depending on the type of EMIS system. The median participant saved approximately $3 million in annual energy costs across their portfolio.
“It’s impractical for businesses to manually review the amount of data being collected in today’s commercial buildings – analytics are needed to get value from all that data. The savings from analytics tend to increase over time as additional opportunities are uncovered,” said Hannah Kramer, a researcher with the team.
One participant, health care system Kaiser Permanente, expanded its use of fault detection and diagnostic software (FDD), a type of EMIS that uncovers errors in buildings systems such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and points to solutions. In 2019, Kaiser Permanente was recognized for its use of EMIS at 69 buildings, demonstrating an average energy savings of 12%. It has since expanded the program to 113 buildings.
Although the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign is concluding, its work will continue through DOE’s Better Buildings program, with ongoing support from the team of experts at Berkeley Lab.