Choosing the Right EMIS Option
At each stage of the EMIS life-cycle, several factors can either help or hinder EMIS success.
A wide variety of EMIS products are commercially available, and they are increasingly marketed to the energy management community. EMIS may be sold as cloud based software-as-a-service or software installed directly on the owner’s server. Facility managers, energy managers, and building operators usually manage EMIS for in-house use. Some EMIS vendors or service providers deliver analysis-as-a-service offerings or as an add-on option to software-as-a-service.
Planning for an EMIS requires an organization to set goals, establish roles and responsibilities, understand organizational conditions, define the activities to meet those goals, and develop a business case. The planning effort should specify what information will be collected, how it will be used (and by whom), how often it will be used, and how it will be acted upon.
EMIS use and capabilities should start with the simplest, high-value analysis, and the complexity can be increased over time. In general, it is recommended to first start with energy information systems to understand whole-building energy use data from which you can identify the “low-hanging fruit,” and then move into system-specific tools like fault detection and diagnostics or automated system optimization.
Enablers and Barriers At Four Stages of EMIS Life-Cycle
Using an EMIS to track energy metrics provides a range of benefits, including finding and fixing problems more quickly, ensuring that efficiency investments pay off, and recommending energy performance improvements. Through work with building operators around the country, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory technical staff has looked at what can enable the successful use of EMIS and also identified barriers to successful EMIS implementation. Let’s look at aids and barriers to success at four stages of the EMIS life-cycle.
1. EMIS specification and selection.
- Participants have used the Department of Energy’s EMIS Procurement Specification as a starting point for an RFP.
- Focus RFPs where there is the most interest in using the data (i.e., operations staff may desire fault detection and diagnostics for specific faults while energy managers may desire energy information systems to simplify energy tracking and reporting).
- Find a Product or Service list on the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign website.
- Limited information available on full costs and savings potential hinders the business case for implementing an EMIS.
- Users are not clear on which EMIS product features they need.
- There is a lack of clarity on differences between EMIS products.
- Procurement takes a long time and includes either writing an RFP from scratch or interviewing many vendors.
2. EMIS Installation and Configuration
- Utility incentives offset costs and support installation and use of EMIS.
- EMIS service providers support data integration and set-up, then sometimes serve as an extension of the operations team to provide focus on the fault detection and diagnostics process.
- The EMIS installation is commissioned, including data quality checks and critical sensor calibration.
- Data warehousing to provide a single location for all relevant data streams.
- Data integration problems include difficulty extracting data from older BAS, disparate data collection systems/naming conventions, and difficulty bringing all the data into a single data architecture.
- Data quality problems exist, such as gaps in data and incorrect meter readings.
- There is a lack of existing metering in place (cost of adding metering; for instance, when there is a single meter serving a campus).
3. Analytic Process
- Metrics and diagnostic charts summarize performance at a glance rather than requiring time-intensive manual analysis.
- Analytics are implemented to address specific operational challenges, rather than implementing all available analytics.
- EMIS service providers or EMIS vendors implement an existing fault detection and diagnostics rules library.
- Users experience data overload instead of gaining actionable insights. This can point to an EMIS configuration problem or an issue with the level of analytics provided.
- Difficulty exists in pinpointing measures/opportunities in the data (especially using meter-level data).
- There is difficulty finding root causes of problems (i.e., the pumps may be operating at 100 percent speed all the time but operators need to determine what is causing this fault condition).
- Measurement and verification process is not in place to verify savings.
4. MBCx Organizational Process
- Staff who routinely use EMIS tend to find value, with use across many levels of staff (managers to technicians).
- An organization’s energy savings goals pinpoint the use of EMIS and reporting features; the need to show persistence of savings drives MBCx.
- There is a standard process for implementing findings; it may include integration of EMIS with work order process.
- Energy cost savings can be reinvested.
- It is difficult to maintain persistence without robust MBCx process; MBCx turns into periodic existing building commissioning where savings degrade after completion of existing building commissioning.
- Staff overrides of BAS and desire to operate in manual mode often lead to energy waste.