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article imageOp-Ed: More facilities install energy monitors amid tight budgets

By Elizabeth Brown     Dec 3, 2014 in Technology
More public facilities are looking for ways to cut energy costs amid a constrained budgetary environment, and many are installing energy monitors and smart meters to optimize their electricity consumption.
According to a recent survey, 60 percent of facilities have no energy monitoring and reporting capabilities; 86.4 percent see their 2014 budget for energy efficiency technologies and upgrades equaling or exceeding 2013 spending; and 24.1 percent noted "lack of budget" as the reason they are not using technology to manage buildings' energy usage.
Energy Monitoring and Smart Meters
Administrators are increasingly embracing technologies that convert regular structures into "smart buildings." Innovation such as smart appliances that are cloud-enabled lets operators measure power usage across multiple facilities and locations. These meters track energy usage before and after efficiency campaigns are implemented.
"A detailed measurement of energy usage is important," says a spokesperson for Blue Star Energy, an electricity supplier based in southwest Australia. "Smart meters allow administrators to track their progress as they try various solutions, and that lets operators estimate the savings from each solution."
Two-thirds of the mainstream population will choose products from sustainable sources over conventional projects, according to a Nielsen Global Survey. Consumers are also more likely to become a repeat customer if they know a company is concerned about the environment, and acts accordingly.
Smart Building
For example, a Massachusetts-based vocational school recently installed an energy monitoring system as part of a green upgrade of its lighting, heating, and ventilation systems. The school expects to save $13.8 million over the next 20 years. The school's energy-efficient upgrades have lowered electrical costs by $400,000 over the past 13 months.
Larger-scale programs are being initiated. In October, the state of New York began its BuildSmart campaign to improve energy efficiency in state buildings by 20 percent by 2020. The program will install smart meters in over 3,000 public buildings so operators can see up-to-the-minute energy usage data.
The information enables administrators to cut energy costs because each building can report accurate readings of consumption rates. For example, they can adjust power consumption based on hours of operation, weather, empty rooms, and other parameters.
Last month, the U.S. Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) awarded a contract to monitor and report on electricity use in AAFES stores in the United States and abroad. The AAFES operates stores that provide products and services to 8.7 million members. These stores will install a web-based energy monitoring system to track electrical use at AAFES facilities.
Clear proof of financial savings will probably result in much greater adoption of energy monitoring technology.
According to Daintree's study, "30 percent cited more compelling ROI models/shorter payback as the primary driver for their organization to increase investments in energy efficiency solutions." Additionally, "about 63 percent require two to five years’ payback for energy control solutions."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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