An Energy Management System is a series of computer-controlled automation devices in a building that enable centralized tracking and optimizing of energy use. Heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, air filters and electrical loads can all be monitored and controlled remotely and individually, utilizing real-time data. An EMS can also sense environmental conditions like outside temperature, humidity, and pressure, and activate or deactivate equipment in accordance with those conditions.
An EMS is the first and biggest step in creating a smart building, providing a lookout over the key energy components of the structure. It analyzes data over time, helping you to make decisions about how to lower energy use, and then compare usage over time.
Energy Management Systems and Pricing
The single largest barrier to installing an Energy Management System is its price tag: at approximately $100,000 upfront for a new EMS, it can prove difficult to get owner approval. However, we have been gathering data from the systems that we have installed to create solid case studies that show the simple payback of this technology to be a matter of a couple of years or less.
One such case study looks at our property at 2821-2851 South Parker Road in Aurora, Colorado. This particular study features a system upgrade, as the property had an outdated and failing Teletrol EMS. We performed a full retrofit of all panels and hardware, to include Tridium JACE-600/LON controllers with Niagara software.
The project took two months, and was completed concurrently while installing Variable Frequency Drives (VDFs), modern elevators and lighting retrofits. After the installation we optimized the system, and then one year later we collected the data for the case study. The EMS savings were calculated after correcting for savings related to the new VFDs and lighting.
The EMS portion of the project – including materials, labor, and taxes – cost $121,537. We admit that is not an investment to sneeze at. But, it is an investment that paid off: the savings generated by lower energy consumption due to the EMS turned out to be $85,458! That is a simple payback period of 1.4 years, and a 70% return on investment.
If you’re a building owner and can afford the upfront cost of an EMS, we highly recommend exploring this option. The many benefits will soon become very clear:
- Annual cost savings for years to come.
- Reduced energy usage.
- Smart data available in real time.
- Improved equipment lifetime as harsh start and stop times are minimized.
An Energy Management System, like an efficient, accurate, attentive employee, can make a huge impact on your company’s bottom line.
Learn more about Boxer’s Energy Sustainability & Tracking program.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated to include additional content and new information.