Energy Management Systems – Building Automation Systems – Building Controls Systems – What is the difference and is it worth the investment?
There are multiple names for the systems building owners put into place to control the building systems such as heating, cooling, lighting, and refrigeration. With some minor nuances, these systems predominantly have the same objectives – reduction in energy consumption and increased efficiency.
Regardless of the name or the acronym, the number one question is what is the ROI and is it worth it?
Building controls are physical components that collect inputs from various building systems through sensors and send outputs through actuators to regulate building system operations based on pre-defined parameters. When the building controls components are configured to implement energy reducing strategies the system becomes an energy management system.
In 2017 the Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies Office conducted a study to estimate how much energy a building controls system could potentially deliver. BTO utilized researchers from the Pacific Northwest national Laboratory to conduct the study across 34 different control measures and 14 different commercial building types. (www.energy.gov)
The study published in May of 2017 shows that on average commercial properties that employ building control systems can save an average of 29% on their annual energy consumption.
The average utility cost varies throughout the United States by geographical area. In California a typical commercial building monthly utility cost is approximately $866 per month while the District of Columbia averages over $3000 per month per commercial space. (EIA-861 schedules 4A-D, EIA-861S and EIZ-861U), or about 19% of the total expenditure for a typical office building.
Let’s say you have 10 locations, with 7500 square feet per location. If we use the average annual office building spend of $1.34 per square foot on electricity, and 18 cents per square foot on natural gas (Grid), that comes to roughly $11,400 per location per year- times 10 locations. If you can save 29% of that cost, you are looking at a savings of over $33,000 in the first year. (Grid)
The study from DOE also indicates that some industries can expect to see even greater energy saving results with secondary schools saving an average of 49% and retail stores and automotive dealerships recognizing average energy savings of 41%.
Still not sure if it is worth it to embark on the building controls – energy management path? If the energy savings and added corporate sustainability and social responsibility aren’t enough, in many areas there are generous rebates available to help sweeten that pot. Depending on the program in your area, energy saving incentives and rebates can cut the cost of your initial investment significantly.
Give us a call or shoot us an email today and we will work with you to develop a program that fits your needs, calculate your expected ROI and navigate the paperwork sea for obtaining rebates and incentives for your project.
written by Suzanne Ferguson, April 2018
EIA-861 schedules 4A-D, EIA-861S and EIZ-861U. “2016 Average Monthly Bill – Commercial.” 2016. eia.gov. <https://www.eia.gov/electricity/sales_revenue_price/pdf/table5_b.pdf>.
Grid, National. “www9.nationalgridus.com.” 2002. National Grid.
www.energy.gov. “www.energy.gov.” n.d. www.energy.gov. 29 March 2018.