By James Dice, PE, CEM, CMVP, Vice President of Strategic Solutions, Sitton Energy Solutions
Energy to Care participants know the value of using utility bill data to benchmark hospital energy performance. This first step on the energy efficiency journey is viewing the hospital portfolio as from a mountaintop. Such a big-picture view helps answer questions like, “How does each hospital compare to its peers?,” and “Are there opportunities for energy savings?,” and “How much are those savings opportunities?”
To figure out exactly how to improve performance, hike down the mountain into each building. At these lower altitudes, the many hidden opportunities for savings can be uncovered. A closer view helps answer questions like, “Is the building automation system doing the right things?,” and “Have the control sequences been interfered with or overridden?,” and “Have individual components (sensors, actuators, dampers) degraded or failed?”
In the past, answering these questions has been very labor-intensive, but advances in automation and analytics software mean answers can be just a few clicks away. Today the challenge is to take advantage of the powerful technology at our fingertips to continuously improve hospital operations. Here are a few tips that have helped health care systems rise to this challenge:
1. Start with Strategy
When it comes to energy efficiency, analytics is simply one tool in the toolbox. Before putting the tool to the task, think through how analytics fits into your health care system’s comprehensive energy strategy. Fitting into the strategy will produce the highest return on investment and answer questions such as:
- What key performance indicators are important to the organization?
- How will we modify construction, operations and maintenance, and building automation practices to best take advantage of analytics?
- How will we fund investments in analytics? Are incentives or rebates available?
2. Select the Right Tool for the Job
Dozens of different types of analytics software are available and new players seem to hit the market each day. The marketplace is diverse, so take time to select the best tool for your needs. As a starting point, look for the following features:
- Fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) – the ability to automatically find patterns in system data that represent equipment failures, anomalies, or degraded performance
- Semantic data modeling – the ability to describe the meaning of each data point in the building and use this “metadata” in the analytics itself
- Measurement and verification (M&V) – the ability to automatically and continuously validate the results of energy savings measures
3. Build a Process and a Team Around It
Analytics software is most effective when it is implemented inside a structured, ongoing monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) process and team. Get the following team members in place:
- Engaged operations and maintenance staff
- Responsive implementation vendors and contractors
- Analytics and MBCx services provider
About the Author
James Dice, PE, CEM, CMVP, is vice president of strategic solutions at Sitton Energy Solutions. James specializes in applying advanced technology to optimize facility performance. His expertise in data analytics software, including fault detection and diagnostics algorithms, helps Sitton provide an industry-leading return-on-investment for clients.
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