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Energy Intelligence and You: How Companies are Using Big Data to Reduce Consumption and Save Money

When I was little I would sit with my father, a small business owner, at his desk every night in the winter.  There, he would recite numbers which I would punch into his desk calculator.  The feeder would churn and numbers would magically appear on the ticker tape coming out of the top of the device – we would spend weeks doing his bills, taxes, budgets for the coming year.  I probably didn’t do anything more than get in the way but dad didn’t seem to mind.

Today dad still uses his desktop calculator, occasionally supplementing with Quicken.  But dad is a lone ranger:  gone are the days of manual calculation.  Excel changed the game, and today’s computers and data storage technology are powerful enough to analyze seemingly endless amounts of data in a matter of moments.  Companies are continually mining more ways to analyze vast amounts of data and turn them into usable information.  The big data revolution is here.

In 2012, Gartner defined Big Data as “high volume, high velocity, and high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization”. By analyzing seemingly disparate data, larger trends can be found and opportunities derived which can be used in all aspects of business.

Energy Intelligence is just one of these opportunities.  Lurking in every building across Canada there lies an untapped energy resource: efficiency.  And big data analytics are just starting to scratch the surface of uncovering these efficiencies.


How can big data help us to conserve energy, waste less, and save more?

 1. Understand your Baseline.

The basis of every energy conservation program begins with a baseline – that is, a starting point to compare future performance.  Powerful tools can combine the factors which cause the largest swings in energy usage – production information, local weather, and building occupancy to create a normalized baseline.  This allows for apples-to-apples comparisons of performance so energy managers can truly understand the impact of future changes.

2. Monitor and Track.

Data analytics turn big data into usable information, easily accessible through dashboards, real time alerts and pre-set reports.  By continually monitoring current progress against baseline usage, companies can track the adoption and success of energy conservation programs, ensuring efficiency program returns don’t slip over time.

3. Continuously improve.

The potential for energy intelligence is limitless – through tying in real time energy usage data with price information into Building Automation Systems, companies can react remotely to changes in price or building configuration.  The promise of Virtual Energy Audits will allow manufacturers to monitor equipment and predict malfunctions before they happen.

Energy intelligence software is allowing energy managers to be more efficient than ever, and companies to be more competitive as a result.  We are on the edge of the big data revolution, and I am excited to see where the future of energy intelligence will take efficiency programs into the future.

If you have any questions or comments please share them in the comments section below.