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How Much Data Is Too Much?

By Greg Zimmerman Energy Efficiency

How much data is too much data? The answer, of course, depends on the capabilities of your data management systems, the sophistication of your operation, and perhaps most importantly, what you intend to do with that data.

For some, simply getting the monthly energy bill is plenty of data. For others, like Bruce Thorpe of Silicon Valley tech company NVIDIA, who we profiled in the August cover story of Building Operating Management magazine, 8,000 data points per second is just about a reasonable amount of data.

So, yeah, it just depends.

But what really matters isn’t the amount of data you’re collecting. What’s important is how you’re using that data to prioritize operations, creating an “action item” list that results in more efficiencies and savings. As well, using this data to head off small problems before they become major expenses (in terms of energy use or broken down equipment) should be the goal for any facility manager.

Indeed, one of the tangential issues related to data-gathering is the sophistication of a fault diagnostic and detection system for energy-related issues. Having such a system assumes one has a BAS in the first place. But if you do, how do you calibrate your system so that it’s not alarming you every 10 seconds but so that it is alarming you when something is truly wrong – a damper is stuck open, a motor has failed, etc.?

It’s a question I always like to ask facility managers, and the answer is always, “well, it’s been a process to get to a system that works for us.” That is to say, when it comes to energy fault detection, there is no silver bullet answer. You just have to do some trial and error.

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on the how sustainability and resilience complement each other.


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