US Department of Energy campaign showcases smart building technology

Photo of LBNL
Lisi Ludwig/Senior Staff
The U.S. Department of Energy campaign was facilitated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and piloted the use of energy management information systems in more than 6,500 buildings across the country.

Related Posts

On Sunday, the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign announced its completion of a four-year initiative showcasing the use of smart building technologies that can save facilities an average of $3 million in annual energy costs.

The U.S. Department of Energy, or DOE, campaign was facilitated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, or Berkeley Lab, and piloted the use of energy management information systems, or EMIS, in more than 6,500 buildings across the country. Data collected through the campaign’s information systems demonstrated total savings across users of the technology of up to $95 million.

EMIS are a “broad family” of technology that utilize meters, sensors and control systems to continuously analyze the way energy is being used in buildings, according to Jessica Granderson, principal investigator of the campaign’s research. These systems provide users with direct feedback on building performance and uncover hidden instances of waste in day-to-day operations. The campaign is responsible for technological assistance and uses data from partners to inform research, according to a report from the Smart Energy Analytics Campaign.

“Working with such a broad install base, half a billion square feet of install space and a hundred organizations … gives us very concrete evidence for cost benefits and savings,” Granderson said. “With the info all available, we hope we see a lot of broad applications across the commercial sector.”

Granderson said the campaign had three objectives: to “spark the adoption” of EMIS, provide assistance to users to maximize achieved value and thoroughly document best practices in order to elevate the technology to more commercial usage.

Through the campaign, 32 EMIS users were recognized for their implementation of the technology.

Kaiser Permanente was commended in 2019 by the DOE and Berkeley Lab for its implementation of fault detection and diagnostic, or FDD, software through the support of the campaign. FDD tools, according to the DOE, specifically report detection of faults and degradation in buildings that typically go undetected.

Beginning with a four-building pilot in 2015, Kaiser expanded FDD tool utilization through the help of the campaign to 69 buildings or 7 million square feet, according to a report from the DOE. The EMIS software, which costs roughly 8 cents per square feet, repays itself, giving Kaiser facilities an annual 12% savings rate on energy costs, according to a press release from Berkeley Lab.

Although the campaign was exclusive to a handful of broad facilities, usage of EMIS technology is on its way to becoming more widespread; according to a report from the DOE, states, including Kentucky and Massachusetts, have subsidized its usage in government-owned facilities.

“This is very exciting work because we are able to take advantage of these strategies,” Granderson said. “Sure, we can think of energy savings, but there are also benefits in streamlining operations in maintenance processes. These are core and fundamental technologies that need to be in place to enable our buildings to be grid-interactive.”

Contact Matt Brown at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @maattttbrown.