Unified Reporting Helps Microsoft's Facilities Management Team Measure And Manage Energy Use
Reporting on energy usage was a labor-intensive process as well. With no unified reporting system, the Microsoft facilities team would devote weeks of time to pulling together all the information it would need to get a handle on exactly how much energy was being used, how it was used, and how much it cost.
"If I did energy reporting from all the labs, or business groups, it would take us 80 hours each quarter to create one report," Smith says. "In fact, it took me eight weeks at the end of every fiscal year to tell my executives where all the energy went, because we had to go into multitudes of reports and data to extract that. Now I get that instantaneously."
That improved reporting extends down to the micro level as well as the macro level, Smith says. With so many building assets in place, the previous method of reporting wasn't really feasible on a large scale. As an example, it would previously take four to six hours to do an in-depth performance report on an air handler, including details such as the performance of components like economizers and chilled water valves.
"That same report can now be done in less than a minute," says Smith. "And oh, by the way, we have 750 air handlers across the campus."
This might surprise you: The payback from reduced energy usage is 18 months, even in Washington, which has the third-lowest energy costs in the United States. This might shock you: As an added bonus, the utility is rebating enough to pay for the software, deployment, and some of the IT costs.
"The payback is, 'how come you haven't done this sooner?'" Smith says.
With the main Microsoft campus up and running on this system this year, the first hurdle has been cleared. And the improvements not only help cut down on energy usage from a building standpoint, but they give Smith another tool to help drive sustainability throughout the company. As a whole, the company has a strong sustainability culture; being able to share data not only helps provide positive reinforcement to employees, but also appeals to their competitive side as well.
"If Building 26 knew that Building 27 was 3 percent more efficient on their plug load, or on their offices, I guarantee you it would be switched the next day," Smith says.