A Note from the ENTOUCH CEO: Knowing your How, What, and Why

Energy Management for Businesses: A Guide to Smarter Buildings

May 23, 2022

What Is an Energy Management System?

An energy management system (EMS) is a system of computer-aided energy-saving processes designed for monitoring, controlling, and optimizing energy use in businesses, public and government organizations, and homes. The main goal of these systems is to increase energy efficiency and lower energy consumption, which ultimately saves the business money.

An EMS has one common use in several different settings. They can be used as systems that report on granular energy use by specific pieces of equipment in order to achieve energy efficiency through optimization. Newer cloud-based energy management systems enable remote control of HVAC and other energy-consuming equipment and collect detailed, real-time data for individual energy consumption.

This offers intelligent, specific, real-time guidance on identifying and capturing the most compelling energy savings opportunities. This is particularly useful when addressing some of the problems resulting from the uncertainties of renewable energy resources, their use, and consumers' behavior.

Lastly, these control systems can be specifically developed for automated control and monitoring of electromechanical facilities in residential or commercial buildings with substantial energy consumption. These include but aren't limited to HVAC and lighting installations. The scope of energy management systems ranges from structure to a collection of facilities, such as office buildings, industries, and retail stores.

The majority of these systems allow you to review energy consumption through an online portal. Individual commercial entities also use energy management systems to monitor, measure and control their electrical building loads. Metering, sub-metering, and monitoring capabilities in energy management systems enable facility and building senior managers to collect data and information that allows them to make better-educated decisions about energy operations throughout their facilities.

The Future of Energy Management

Energy management systems, known in commercial buildings as Building Management Systems, or Building Automation Systems, were very innovative when they were introduced more than a decade ago. They granted a central facility management system that provided monitoring and controlling capabilities over the building's operations, such as automated lighting, HVAC, security systems, and even elevators.

Using these systems increased energy cost savings and decreased energy consumption because they allowed access and control necessary to operate the building's installation cost-effectively. Most existing buildings still use and solely rely on BMS for energy management — these systems are still efficient, despite their limited capabilities.

Newer systems, branded Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), are slightly more sophisticated systems for commercial buildings. Unlike previous iterations of energy management programs like BMS, which granted central monitoring and control, BEMS provides monitoring and information related to systems affecting energy use and demand, which can be used for energy assessments.

For example, if a utility initiates a demand response event, a BEMS can receive the utility's external signal and respond by sending control instructions to building systems. BEMS may command lights to dim in specific locations, increase the temperature setpoint, and/or switch from utility production to an energy storage system (a battery) to reduce overall load.

BEMS can also monitor, aggregate, and process data at a fundamental level in order to inform logic-controlled reactions. Despite its use, BEMS are still predominantly utilized in a reactive manner to resolve issues after they have occurred. Organizations rarely use them in such a way that they can be used to anticipate and improve future building performance.

BEMS is a better alternative for new construction than BMS because of its more extensive capability. The future of building energy management, on the other hand, is moving away from traditional systems and toward more innovative IoT-based energy management platforms. However, for the purposes of this article, we'll refer to all energy management systems by one name — EMS.

The Importance of Energy Management

Energy management

Controlling and reducing the amount of energy used by your company is critical since it lowers costs, risks, and carbon emissions. Failure to implement an energy management strategy could result in a loss of functionality, a steep increase in energy prices, power shortages, and outages.

Cut Costs

You might save thousands of dollars each year on power bills alone and cut operating costs. You'll save money all over the place if you use energy more efficiently and purposefully. This effectively reduces your running costs, allowing you to run your company more efficiently.

Reduce Energy Consumption

Lowering your energy consumption isn't just about saving money. Energy usage has a massive environmental impact, so by reducing energy consumption, you're effectively reducing your company's carbon footprint, allowing you to market your company as "green", which will ultimately serve the company's bottom line. When it comes to acquiring new consumers, having a more sustainable business than your competitors can make a major difference.

Save Company Time

Computer-assisted technologies can keep track of your energy usage, so you don't have to. They can be designed to optimize your energy use based on real-time conditions.

Newer technologies will also help you keep your equipment operating at optimal efficiency, allowing you to predict and prevent any potential downtime and costly repairs caused by malfunctions. Work with your EMS providers to better understand your system, energy needs, and options.

Get More Out of Your Employees

Employees that work in environmentally friendly workplaces are generally more productive. Lighting and temperature conditions have been demonstrated to have a substantial impact on staff productivity in various case studies.

You won't be as productive as you would be in a comfortable setting if you are too hot or cold. Implement an energy management system to provide a more dependable and comfortable working environment for your staff.

The Components of Smart Energy Management

Energy Management Systems must contain four key components to operate: a smart panel, consumption monitor, monitoring and control app, and smart circuits. The latter encompasses everything from smart lights, smart windows, and smart HVAC.

Consumption Monitors/Senors 

Consumption monitors are essential components of EMS systems. These monitors come in various shapes and sizes, and their primary purpose is to track your energy usage at various points with varying levels of detail.

Most smart panels can provide consumption statistics down to the circuit level, allowing you to see how much power is being drawn from each circuit. Additional monitoring devices can be added to give you more thorough data. These monitors learn "electricity signatures" associated with individual devices and present you with energy usage data at the device level using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Monitoring and Control App

Monitoring and control apps are smartphone apps (iOS or Android), which grant you access to the most crucial aspects of an EMS. Each program may have its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but they should all provide you with the same basic functionality. You should be able to see how much electricity you're using first and foremost.

Whether you're sitting on your couch or traveling across the nation, you should be able to manage each circuit remotely. Just use your smartphone app, inquire about the device's status, and turn the device off or on.

Many apps will also give you information on individual devices, such as trends and expenses over time. Real-time cost tracking may also be available, allowing you to know how much electricity you're using and how much it costs you at any given time. Some apps will allow you to enter alternative rates and boost the accuracy of your electricity expenditures in the app.

Get Started with Energy Management

Energy management systems are a fantastic way to keep track of and optimize your energy usage in your business environment. You can control everything, from lighting, HVAC, and windows opening and closing; the opportunities are nearly endless.

If you want to learn more about Energy Management Systems, contact ENTOUCH Controls, a company beating a path to a healthier planet through sustainability and reduced energy usage.

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