Building Analytics ROI | BuildingFit

ROI on Building Analytics — Part 2

 

Comfort

 

Facility management teams really start to pay attention once building analytics and KPIs that focus on maintaining and improving comfort are deployed. Counterintuitive as it may seem (especially from an energy efficiency engineer’s perspective), energy savings are not a large driving factor in facility management (FM), but cold calls are.  They’re a significant pain point.  Building analytics that allow FM teams to solve problems in their buildings that lead to cold calls make their lives easier.  It also allows FM teams to start being proactive in terms of how they address cold calls, instead of reactive.  Reactive maintenance usually involves responding to complaints from unhappy tenants.

Pinning down the return on investment associated with maintaining higher levels of comfort, reducing cold calls, and generally increasing occupant satisfaction, is not easy – mainly because the benefits are not direct, like energy savings, rather they are indirect, things like better lease renewals rates, higher patient satisfaction scores in hospitals, or increases is productivity.

Losing a tenant can be expensive and just downright painful. What are the costs exactly? – using a  20,000 sf space in a 200,000 sf building as an example.  At $30/sf, lost rent alone is significant at $50,000 month. Realtor fees to find that new tenant let’s say 6% of the total lease value – so if it’s a 3 year deal that’s a $108,000 fee.  Vacant space can also negatively impact the overall property value. Clearly as a building owner anything that can be done to keep a tenant happy, and profitable, aligns with their best interests.  The cost of a building analytics deployment on a property of that size, is about $40,000-$60,000.  Costs from not keeping tenants happy and not keeping spaces leased can quickly escalate, dwarfing the cost of building analytics.

A major revenue driver in healthcare is patient satisfaction scores.  Higher patient satisfaction scores result in higher reimbursement payments (more revenue) not to mention a better reputation.  There’s a lot more to the patient satisfaction scores than patient comfort, things like quality of care, cleanliness, and responsiveness.  Since Medicare and Medicaid account for roughly 1/3 of a hospital’s annual revenue, anything that can be done to drive higher patient satisfaction scores leads to increased revenues and really drives a quick return on investment in building analytics.

Keeping tenants (employees) happy and productive, can really help drive business results.  The 3-30-300 rule, $3/sf for utilities, $30/sf for rent, and $300/sf for payroll, illustrates this best.  Let’s look at what we get from a 1% improvement in the 200,000 sf building we were talking about before.  Some quick math gets us to 1% reduction in utilities = $6,000/year, 1% lower rent cost = $60,000/year, but a 1% improvement in productivity can yield a $600,000/year benefit.  Clearly if you believe that comfort = improvements in productivity, then the investment in building analytics will have a fast payback.

The challenge is that the major benefits from improving comfort in buildings, longer leases, higher patient satisfaction scores, and increases in employee productivity are not directly measurable. While tracking cold calls and closely monitoring comfort related key performance indicators is easily achievable, correlating improvements that directly have a positive impact on the bottom line is difficult.  One could argue the benefits are real but the leap is, is it really driving value for your organization? Given the amount of value it could be driving – it’s probably worth the risk.

Building Analytics ROI | BuildingFit

ROI on Building Analytics — Part 1

What’s and expected Return on Investment from Building Analytics or a Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD) Deployment?

For those of you who are new to the industry, here’s a quick summary of what exactly I mean by building analytics or FDD.  First off, consider the two terms, buildings analytics and FDD, to essentially be the same, so I’m going to stick with building analytics going forward.

Modern commercial buildings contain a number of complex systems, things like lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), security, vertical transport (elevators), and fire alarm.  And this is just for your typical office building.  Hospitals, laboratories, manufacturing, and industrial facilities will have even more systems than that.  Each of these systems has the capability to create an enormous amount of data describing how the building is running.  If used, or even stored, this data is very valuable for many of us in the building industry. Unfortunately, in most cases, the data is not created, meaning it’s not captured, recorded, stored and analyzed.

This is where building analytics come in.  Building analytics have at least 3 components:  data connection, analytics engine, visualization layer.    The data connection, or data pipe as I like to call it, is really two pieces.  A connection to the building from the outside world that navigates through the building’s firewall. The second piece is the connector that connects the building analytics database to the building system.  Once the data pipe is connected and data is flowing, we can start driving value from the information.

This happens in the analytics engine.  The analytics engine includes a database that stores time series data that describe how a building and its components are running through the day, week, month and year (s).  Just having access to this data is valuable, but the analytics engine takes it step further by continuously applying a set of rules to the data, looking for problems with system operation or opportunities to improve performance.

The analytics engine is going to do a very thorough job of data analysis and will provide a long list of items that someone is going to need to address.  This is where the visualization layer comes in.  The visualization layer takes the results from the analytics engine and brings it forward in a way that helps engineers, energy managers, facility managers, directors, and the C-suite take advantage of the data.  This will usually include key performance indicators, tailored to specific user needs as well as prioritization tools to help end users find what’s important to them.  From here, the end user takes action and drives the ROI.

ROI from a building analytics deployment comes from three major areas:  Energy, Comfort, and Maintenance.

Energy

Energy efficiency is the first place most people look to drive value from building analytics and it makes sense.  Energy efficiency improvement are quantifiable, many times by the analytics engine itself, and the savings can be verified easier than ever before though utility bill automation or direct measurement of meters or key data points.

A typical energy efficiency ROI from a building analytics deployment ranges from immediate to 3 years.  Here are a few examples of what is typically uncovered:

  • Scheduling:  Its always amazing how often a building’s HVAC schedule is not adjusted or maintained to match occupancy.  Mainly because it’s really “invisible” and can be easily forgotten about.  Scheduling does take some up-front work to really figure out the operating schedules in a building, but once you have that upfront work done, building analytics can really help maintain that schedule.  This is a great place to start and a real low cost opportunity to save some energy and money.
  • Setpoint adjustments:  Less obvious than scheduling, usually for this you’ll need an experienced consultant to advise you on how to adjust the setpoints so that savings persist and you don’t end up with unhappy tenants and reverting back.  These setpoint range from space temperature setpoints – making sure that there’s enough “space” between heating and cooling setpoints, reducing airflow at night when buildings are not occupied, to air handling unit temperature setpoints and reset strategies (how buildings change setpoints to react to different indoor and outdoor conditions), to specific control setpoints in in your chilled water and hot water plants.  Often, we find key set points at the plant level overridden to band aid issues at the space level, overrides get forgotten and end up causing huge inefficiencies throughout the building.  Buildings analytics can both help you identify where there are opportunities to adjust setpoints, and after you do analytics will help you maintain the setpoint adjustments.
  • Minimizing simultaneous heating and cooling:  As counterintuitive as it may seem, most buildings are designed to take warm air (for example from your office area), filter it, cool it down, and then heat it back up.  This is the phenomena known as simultaneous heating and cooling.  There are a number of reasons why this occurs and even more strategies to minimize it.  Building analytics will help you identify when its occurring but to really solve the issue you’ll likely need to adjust the control strategies in your building which will involve consultants and control contractors.  The good news is the savings are typically significant.
  • Control sequence optimization:  I hit on one target above, minimizing simultaneous heating and cooling, but there’s more opportunities out there than just that.  In fact there’s a good chance that from the thermostat to the central plant, there will be new control strategies that will allow your building to more efficiently keeps its occupants happy.  Building analytics constantly reviews how your building is operating and will flag when sequences are not optimized and there’s an opportunity for improvement, but in this scenario just having access to data is enough for an experienced operator or consultant to identify optimization opportunities.
  • Minor capital projects:  These projects vary greatly, from installing occupancy or CO2 sensors and taking your scheduling work to the next level and implementing a sensor-based scheduling program.  From experience its amazing to see how underutilized most buildings really are when they are “occupied”.  The other end of the spectrum could be something like installing the hardware required to install deep chilled water plants analytics in your central plant allowing you to really understand, optimize, and maintain (we’ll get to that later) one of the largest energy users in a building.

There is a common theme in all of the above points.  Data and building analytics will help identify opportunities and maintain the savings, but they will not drive the value for you.  You will need experienced and engaged facility management staff, who embrace technology and the value it can bring, and consultants that are used to working with data/buildings analytics to identify issues, determine the root cause analysis and implement the solutions.

Salt Lake City, Utah

BuildingFit Wins 2020 Utah Business Green Business Award

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BuildingFit helps reduce the environmental footprint of our clients and community by minimizing the amount of non-renewable energy they use.

BuildingFit has been selected a winner for the 2020 Utah Business Green Business Award Innovation category. Every year, Utah Business honors companies, communities, and individuals who are taking a stand in sustainability and making a difference for our state’s environmental future.

Because building systems are complex, it is common for buildings to waste tens of thousands—to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on energy waste,  when building systems like HVAC don’t operate as intended. BuildingFit helps reduce the environmental footprint of our clients and society by reducing the amount of non-renewable energy they use.

BuildingFit analytics have been widely used in more than 50 million ft2 in customer facilities worldwide. Projects are most commonly healthcare, higher education, government, casinos, commercial spaces, luxury condominiums, and medical manufacturing plants. Many of our energy saving projects are here in Utah. BuildingFit provides energy management services to numerous enterprise organizations, with a retention rate better than 90%.

Read more here what BuildingFit and other Green Business honorees have to say for sustainability and greener Utah.

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About BuildingFit

BuildingFit™ is a Fault Detection & Diagnostics (FDD), analytics and visualization platform that identifies opportunities, to make buildings more energy efficient, reliable, comfortable, and safe. Engineered for large quantities of data from disparate sources such as building automation systems (BAS) and smart IoT devices, BuildingFit™ insights are delivered through analytics, Key Performance Indicators (KPI), automated reports, and interactive dashboards that help users prioritize daily operations, minimize energy waste and reduce costs. Learn more at www.buildingfit.com.

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BuildingFit Banner Health Smart Building Innovation Awards

Banner Health Named Finalist for 2020 Verdantix International Smart Building Innovation Awards

We are excited to announce that Banner Health is a finalist for the Verdantix 2020 International Smart Building Innovation Awards.

Banner Health implemented an enterprise wide Monitoring Based Commissioning (MBCx) program utilizing the BuildingFit (www.buildingfit.com) Fault Detection and Diagnostics platform. To date, the program has saved:

– $11.3 million/year

– 80 million kWh/year of electricity

– 530,000 Dth/year of natural gas

– 6,000 tons of CO2 emissions – equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from 7,600 homes or 14,000 cars

For more information about this award and finalists, please go to https://www.verdantix.com/newsroom/press-releases/verdantix-announces-the-finalists-for-the-2020-international-smartbuilding-innovation-awards

 

fault-detection-and-diagnostics

BuildingFit Featured in CABA Journal. Finding Our Way: Take the Established Success Path for Implementing Building Analytics

By Rob Glance, BuildingFit

While most industries have adopted and are aligned with industry standards relating to IP networking and enterprise data management, building automation is stuck in catch-up mode. Owners understandably want to manage their sites with the latest technologies and information management systems. While many building automation systems (BAS) products are becoming IP-compliant, many existing buildings have older legacy and proprietary BAS systems. This creates big problems for those charged with managing buildings.

The result of this is that applying analytics on building performance, building owners are locked into a cycle of needing to upgrade outdated BAS while knowing that outright replacement and attaining the capital needed to justify ROI are often insurmountable. Many of these BAS are incapable of offering much more than simple trend data and weren’t designed to provide any real operational diagnostics beyond basic alarms.

Read the full article in CABA Journal here.

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smart-building-analytics

Implementing Data Analytics Into Building Automation Systems

I can’t help feeling that it’s 1999 all over again. As a software development professional with experience across multiple industries, I hear a consistent lament from building owners who share the same set of problems. While most industries have already adopted and are aligned with industry standards relating to IP networking and enterprise data management, building automation has yet to catch up. Owners want to manage their sites with the latest technologies and information management systems. While many building automation systems (BAS) products are becoming IP-compliant, many existing buildings have older legacy and proprietary BAS systems, creating big problems for building managers.

To apply analytics on building performance, building owners are locked into a cycle of needing to upgrade outdated BAS. But outright replacement and the means to justify ROI are difficult challenges to overcome. Many of these BAS don’t have the ability to offer much more than simple trending, and weren’t designed to provide any real operational diagnostics beyond basic alarms. What more: getting any kind of meaningful information out of a BAS can be complicated and usually has limitations on the data’s availability.

 

…Continue Reading on FacilityExecutive.com

 
Integrating data analytics into building automation systems has been difficult, but it’s getting easier.
By Rob Glance

BuildingFit

Building Fit
+1-385-246-3759
contact@BuildingFit.com

1997 South 1100 East
Salt lake City, Utah, 84106

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