Managing Energy Usage in the Cloud: The Green Building Industry Looks to 2013 as “The Year of the Cloud”

VanessaJames 23 January 2013 0

As the green building movement continues to gain steam in the U.S. and abroad, even in light of the questionable global economic climate, the smart building industry is also finding its place in the market.

One of the primary goals of green building is constructing new buildings and retrofitting existing ones with sustainability and conservation in mind, thereby making them “smart.”  Lowering energy and water usage, and therefore costs, is part-and-parcel to this rationale.

This is accomplished by incorporating cutting-edge technology in energy-efficient heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, and HVAC systems in new-build as well as retrofitting smart building projects.

Smart Buildings: Playing an Active Role in Greening the World

A smart building, defined by the Intelligent Building Institute as one that “…provides a productive and cost-effective environment through optimization of its four basic elements: structure, systems, services, and management, and the interrelationships between them” utilizes a broad array of ever-advancing technologies that contribute to the improvement in day-to-day efficiency and long-term sustainability making it easier to oversee and regulate energy usage.  These technologies also promote connectivity to other buildings and the power grid by virtue of ICT-based networks and tools.

While most of the physical, on-the-ground systems mentioned previously have been present in the green building industry for some time there are other newer technologies that are on the rise and are expected to continue to offer increasingly exciting and noteworthy innovations within the green building milieu.

It is expected that these smart building technologies will continue to evolve and expand and demand will increase as the green building movement becomes more commonplace and the technology itself less expensive and integral to the management of energy usage.

Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) Meet Cloud Computing

Within the IT world cloud computing seems to have become all the rage and continues to be utilized for myriad services and applications in multiple industries and fields.

As green building and the management of energy therein becomes more prevalent, methods for managing the copius amounts of information produced by the buildings being created and retrofitted are earnestly being explored.

Within the last 12-24 months many within the green building industry have identified ‘the cloud’ and SaaS as an effective way to upload, host, and manage this collected “big data.”  Thus, many IT enterprises have also recognized this need and the viability of cloud computing (and all it may entail) as a means of streamlining and improving BEMS.

By utilizing cloud computing, services have been developed to allow for combining energy data collected from buildings with other operational information and measuring it to identify inefficiencies and poor or underperformance within BEMS.

Additionally, many companies, agencies and organizations are further building upon the BEMS approach and developing far more integrated and expansive centralized platforms for management.

These involve corralling data from the assorted systems within a building, such as automated systems, heating, cooling, lighting, security etc., and presenting a suite of building efficiency applications hosted on the cloud which would allow users to connect their own building management systems to the platform.  In turn, linking to this cloud-hosted application would allow building and facility managers and operators to monitor and manage their building themselves.

As these cloud-based solutions and applications culture and improve, especially in conjunction with the continuing rise of the global green building movement, the market for BEMS is likely to grow by leaps and bounds.  Global research concern Pike Research forecasts that by 2020 the BEMS market will reach $6 billion, a substantial increase from the approximate $2.5 in 2013.

BEMS in the Cloud: Understanding Energy Costs Before They are Incurred

In the past, building and facility owners’ and managers’ only recourse when addressing energy cost outlays was to simply hazard a guess as to why energy usage and the requisite bills associated with it were what they were from quarter to quarter.

BEMs in the cloud provide specific insight as to how buildings are functioning, using energy, and in what capacity.  Additionally, since these solutions are in the cloud access to energy use data is available in real-time on demand and can be achieved from any web-enabled device with freshly up-to-date streaming each time a user logs in.

Moreover, cloud-based BEMs provide recommendations regarding money saving and cost effective measures to lessen energy usage, increase efficiency and thus reduce the bills associated with overall building operating costs.  Not only does this bolster the bottom line and add value in decision making but it can allow for greater sustainability and market presence in the future.

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