This year we see several energy efficiency trends entering the spotlight – with smart lighting, integrated building management systems, and the overall utilization of the IOT in buildings being the frontrunners.
There is however, one trend we see as being a game-changer for utility incentive programs and the overall approach to energy efficiency validation which has us very excited. This year we see the IOT, or specifically energy management software, becoming more cost effective for all energy retrofit validation – so much so that it could enable a fundamental change in the way we calculate energy savings. Let us explain.
The Evolution of the IOT and Energy Management Software
Development of the IOT has introduced a new realm of possibilities in building management. Undoubtedly the property management industry is shifting toward more automated, smart building systems that allow a two-way exchange of building data and controls – all stored in the cloud. As technology improves, cost barriers erode and a new realm of transparency becomes available for energy and building managers. This is already evident with energy monitoring equipment and energy management software.
The Important Difference Between Validated Savings and Assumed Savings
Validation of energy efficiency project savings is critical. Even the most sophisticated of energy models can’t account for abnormal weather or economic growth/decline. Rapidly improving building technology enables us to cost-effectively and accurately verify all our energy efficiency projects. We now provide our clients with real-time, device-level energy data, giving them full transparency into their facility operations. A validated energy efficiency project is a win-win as it tests our assumptions and paves the way for additional energy efficiency projects.
Limitations of Traditional Energy Efficiency Programs
Generally, utilities use a “top down” approach for energy efficiency programs. They rely on traditional evaluation, measurement and verification of energy savings. The down-side of this method is that it relies on assumptions and can be slow to adapt to new technology and can encourage businesses to focus on less energy efficient, but easier to achieve savings. We regularly see examples of this happening with BC Hydro’s catalogue of rebate-approved products where a new, more efficient and cost effective product is not listed and therefore not eligible for rebates.
Our 2017 Prediction
We see 2017 as being the intersection between technology improvement and cost of entry for energy savings validation for small and large scale energy efficiency projects. With this, the traditional “top down” approach for utility energy efficiency programs will become obsolete. A new outcome-oriented approach will make the most sense for measuring and incentivizing energy performance. Technology will enable the focus to shift away from the administrative process for rebates towards rewarding validated energy savings.