During these times, we know clients are looking for ways to continue to drive energy efficiency and optimization strategies while re-assessing reliability, resiliency and indoor air quality – all while ensuring the safety and security of their employees. Around the country, nearly all municipalities are under Stay-at-Home ordinances. While this limits ability for site visits, there exists a myriad of remote engineering activities that can be implemented to keep your energy optimization program moving forward.
This week, Edison Energy’s Thomas Szarawarski presented on a webinar, hosted in partnership with Smart Energy Decisions, on Remote Energy Optimization Services, where he addressed the three main scopes of work that organizations can implement in order to help them keep their energy optimization programs moving forward.
Ultimately, the three main objectives of the webinar were to gain a better understanding of the following:
- The sustainability considerations leading organizations are driving amid COVID-19
- How sustainability specifically relates to the remote demand engineering scope of work
- The top 3 virtual energy reduction and optimization solutions that organizations can implement, and how they can help support both energy and sustainability goals
During the presentation, Tom noted that,
“Sustainability has gone from an approach or strategy that companies thought of as bettering the environment at an internal cost to that company. To now, where sustainability has become more of a matured philosophy and strategy which best takes care of the environment while also directly taking care of the institution itself.”
This quote resonates because it urges organizations to look at sustainability holistically as well as tactically. By implementing remote energy optimization solutions, building owners are able to drive efficiency and energy optimization, while promoting resiliency – something that holds value now more than ever.
Virtual Energy Audit
An understanding of a facility’s energy infrastructure is built from the integration of existing documentation review, site visits, real-time data collection and detailed conversations with the operations team. A virtual energy audit (VEA) is a way to expedite results from a standard energy audit but at a lower cost than that of a typical energy audit, and all done remotely. While recognizing that the value of onsite assessments cannot be replaced through a VEA, for the cost and for the value to the customer, and given physical limitations and guidelines, a virtual energy audit is a tremendous offer.
As a specific case study example, Tom noted a global cosmetic company where VEAs were completed on 5 of their US locations. By looking at operational systems such as the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems (SCADA) as well as the Building Automation Systems (BAS), one is able to gather key data which can be utilized for assessment. Other key elements include energy source optimization, or completing a desktop feasibility study in order to help understand where capital can best be invested based on incentives, energy supply costs, and projected company growth.
Upon developing a preliminary understanding of facility performance and energy consumption, interviews with facilities management team can be held to further identify base use, hours of operation, operation and maintenance practices, and facility improvements both past and planned.
Remote Retro-Commissioning (RRCx)
Next, Tom covered remote retro-commissioning (RRCx), which differs from a VEA because it focuses more on operational excellence, or improving the existing site infrastructure. A facility owner would want to implement a RRCx strategy to capitalize on changing facility occupation and behavioral patterns to remotely identify, evaluate and implement energy savings opportunities to fuel other energy initiatives and carbon savings.
Operational-based GHG and energy savings opportunities are great for achieving near term goals for 2020 and even 2021, as they are often times low / no cost, can typically be paid for with expense budgets and completed in-house (or with augmented staff), and they often have quick turnaround times. Many of the measures implemented can even remain in place once normal work resumes.
Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) Optimization
The last solution Tom covered was computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) optimization. Tom noted,
“While it may be considered the least intuitive approach, CMMS optimization may be one of the most valuable efforts to take on, especially under a COVID-19 landscape, where organizations are operating with less than a fully burdened staff.”
CMMS is a great solution to identify and optimize updated post-COVID-19 preventative maintenance requirements and a great way to revisit criticality of systems. To ensure a CMMS is used to its full potential, create a culture where the system is valued, and data integrity is upheld. Underpinning and driving this behavioral shift, is first establishing a set of CMMS guidelines and protocol. O&M leaders at any organization recognize and understand a well maintained and thoughtful approach to using a CMMS can help drive down the cost of maintenance, increase asset life, improve productivity, reduce downtime, and lower the total cost of ownership of assets. However, our team has found CMMS management often falls low in the priority list when stacked against critical tasks facility managers encounter on a daily basis. But overall, CMMS is a great solution to affect portfolio-wide operations at an enterprise level by creating a protocol, and establishing best practices moving forward.
Despite the inability to physically interact onsite and execute in person studies, Tom provided valuable insights into some remote engineering activities that can be implemented in order to keep an organization’s energy optimization program moving forward. To quote Tom, “Perhaps the most important takeaway here is that the context of this discussion of ‘what do we do now’ has completely changed all in just the last 2 weeks!” In this constantly evolving energy landscape, the urgency to strategize, plan, and act now is key. Implementing remote energy optimization solutions as part of a broader energy and sustainability strategy can be extremely valuable to any organization looking to address some of the biggest challenges in energy today, and help foster a resilient future.
If you are interested in the recording of this webinar, or would like a copy of the presentation, please fill out the form below and someone from our team will be in touch.
To learn more about Smart Energy Decisions, visit their website.