Taking retail energy management to the next level.
In recent years, retail facilities have become more complex with the addition of grocery departments, fueling centers, restaurants and much more. With strained facility management resources, retailers commonly struggle to achieve and maintain a lasting reduction in energy and operational costs. In turn, retailers are turning to energy management system (EMS) firms who can keep pace with this ever-changing environment and leverage data intelligence from leading general merchandisers, convenience stores, quick- and full-serve restaurants, grocery and pharmacy chains.
A critical element in running an optimized energy management program is to understand that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. It’s important for EMS firms to work hand-in-hand with retailers to address their specific energy challenges and shape a solution based on those needs. Only then can a retailer gain the tools to make smarter energy decisions and truly impact its bottom line.
Maintaining Initial EMS Savings
Depending on a retailer’s portfolio of sites and the energy footprint of each, control devices can be deployed allowing facility operations, such as indoor/outdoor lighting and HVAC, to be automatically controlled through preset parameters established by facility management. In many cases this first step in energy management can deliver 5% to 15% savings simply based on defining temperature setting and lighting schedules. Unfortunately, many retailers are discovering that once these controls are in place, the savings fall victim to operational drift, and begin to diminish over time due to a lack of visibility.
To sustain initial savings, retailers are deploying smarter EMS platforms that employ real-time monitoring and circuit level submetering, which provide unprecedented feedback about the sources of energy consumption at a site. While the deployment of EMS controls is the first step toward unlocking energy savings, adding this level of building insight can be a game changer in reducing retail energy and operational costs.
Circuit-level Energy Data Uncovers Hidden Opportunities
Using advanced submetering, facility managers now have the ability to measure the energy flowing through specific circuits to critical pieces of equipment, including HVAC systems, lighting systems, freezers and coolers, kitchen equipment, and generator equipment. The actionable data provided by submetering, viewable through an enterprise energy management software platform, enables retail facility managers to oversee equipment performance, view energy usage by asset, asset type and department, and monitor power quality. With continuous visibility into site inefficiencies, equipment issues, and by uncovering previously hidden savings opportunities, retailers now have the ability to achieve an extra 5% to 10% savings in addition to the initial control-based savings historically relied upon.
When informed by circuit-level submetering data and long term trend analysis, retailers with both large and small energy footprints are able to continuously tune sites and hone best practices tailored to their unique needs. Armed with real-time data intelligence, facility managers are empowered to minimize operational expenses, inform facility design, guide capital utilization and, most importantly, can sustain and build energy savings over time, avoiding operational drift. As a result, many retailers have benefited from annual energy and operational savings of 10% to 20% per site, per month.
The Growing Role of Web-based Visibility in Energy Management
It is well understood that a good building control program consisting of hardware and usually some software to allow for basic set point control and monitoring, is a critical starting point. But, as retailers’ needs have become more complex, the role of multi-site facility networking software has increasingly become a critical piece of the energy management puzzle, delivering access to the right information quickly. A range of powerful dashboards enable retailers to manage sites by exception, prioritize best performing sites, and identify sites with ongoing challenges using real-time data.
Web-based facility management platforms also provide detailed visibility into site energy operations and identify savings opportunities through a variety of reports and alarms. With global site management capabilities, a facility manager has the ability to drive efficiency and save time though the centralized management of schedules and setpoints, view comprehensive reports and analytics, and evaluate the impact of energy efficiency projects from an intuitive, web-based dashboard.
Plan for Future Needs
Flexibility is a key feature for retailers to keep in mind when selecting an EMS. In recent years, more and more retailers are taking their energy efficiency measures one step further by adding generation solutions, such a solar, to further hedge against rising electricity rates and offset energy consumption. Choosing an EMS provider with extensible hardware and software allows retailers to easily integrate with EMS infrastructure and quickly view energy production and consumption data using the same facility networking software.
Tailoring an energy management program to meet retail-specific needs requires an EMS firm with strong roots in multi-site energy management, a platform that captures and stores detailed real-time information about facility environments, innovative hardware, and world class services. EMS solutions should be designed to easily integrate with existing energy and building management platforms to best leverage existing investments, giving facility managers easy access to critical information, leading to effective, timely and cost-saving actions.
— Mark Danzenbaker is director of product management at GridPoint, an established leader in smart energy solutions. For more information, email [email protected].