The software market is flooded with options for collecting building data. It’s hard to determine what is actually needed, and even more difficult to know what to do once the data is collected. This is a challenge because software is only half of the puzzle, and data is only valuable if the user knows how to use it.

Shrinking budgets, limited staff, and increasing regulations take priority over spending time with the data to understand what it means for a building and, ultimately, the overall business.

To find solutions that improve building conditions and positively impact the bottom line, facility managers and building owners can leverage the expertise of a building energy management system (BEMS) partner to help drive better outcomes through operational savings, greater energy efficiency, and the ability to maximize limited building staff resources.

Gathering building data is key to improving building performance. The other important piece of the process is knowing how to act on that information to realize improvements. This requires the expertise and skills to know what story the data is telling.

Like any technology, there are multiple options and service providers to consider when implementing a BEMS. Technology and software options can provide building data, but knowing how to use the data is critical in order to turn a building into an asset.

Going beyond a software solution – and choosing a partner that will be present throughout the process – can uncover additional opportunities for greater improvements, and help a building owner or facility manager sustain those savings.

Assess Challenges and Goals 

Building systems are becoming more complex, and technology makes it easier than ever to gather data about the facility; however, it’s important to consider whether the ability to turn that information into actionable intelligence is a core competency of a building’s facilities staff. In cases where it is not, BEMS providers can act as an extension of the facility staff to provide this expertise.

This helps free up time and resources for staff to focus on other areas so they can be as productive as possible. For example, a challenging area in many commercial facilities, particularly high-rise buildings, is the number of hot and cold complaints received from occupants. Facilities staff may spend a great deal of time managing these issues, but might never find the root cause of the problems. Having a partner who can help identify and prioritize the true root causes of problems in the building can result in fewer complaint calls so that in-house staff can focus on other priorities.

In addition to the increasing demands on staff working in commercial properties, building systems are becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated. Working with a BEMS provider that understands the complexities of buildings can provide the knowledge base to manage various types of systems for optimized performance.

Consider Innovative Solutions 

Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) and lighting are among the biggest energy expenditures in commercial buildings. These are the first areas where opportunities to improve performance can be found.

But no building system or area should be off limits. Consider all systems in a building that impact energy to find possible improvements, including understanding the impact of other systems such as the roof, elevators, and security. Looking at the entire building and considering all options for improvement can yield greater results for reduced energy consumption and overall efficiency. Utilizing a BEMS provider who has expertise beyond software can be invaluable in this process.

Implementing innovative solutions, such as thermal energy storage, renewable energy technologies, or demand response solutions, is also a possibility when working with a partner that brings a broad range of industry expertise to the table.

Beyond looking for demand-side reductions in energy usage, opportunities for savings can also be found by looking at the supply side in many commercial properties or portfolios. Some BEMS providers bring expertise in both sides of the equation. They can find opportunities for improvement in how a building is using energy, and can also analyze how energy is procured for the building to find solutions for savings and cost-reduction opportunities.

Evaluation Yields Success 

Creating a plan for improvement and choosing a partner to help with implementation is just the beginning. Following up with an execution plan – and ongoing validation of the results – are equally important steps in implementing a BEMS solution.

This type of follow-up and validation may be harder to execute with a software-only or technology-only solution. Working with a BEMS provider that is a partner in the process offers more robust ongoing support and analysis. Some providers bring deep expertise in conducting this ongoing evaluation process, and can tailor that process for specific buildings and situations.

A key part of ongoing analysis and validation is understanding the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most important. KPIs provide valid points of measurement and can help demonstrate the return on investment of the executed plan. This can be critical in gaining support for additional resources for continued improvements.

Consider the Options

There are many BEMS solutions available that provide software to access building data; however, some of those options may not provide the ongoing process framework, support, or expertise that it takes to turn that data into actionable intelligence.

When choosing a building energy management solution, consider working with a provider that will be a partner throughout the entire process, offering expertise and analysis that goes beyond technology. A comprehensive provider will help sustain the savings and uncover opportunities for even more improvements.

The right BEMS provider can deliver solutions that balance efficiency and comfort in a building, for the results that matter most in commercial buildings: operational savings, satisfied occupants, reduced complaint calls, and improved energy efficiency.

Matt Gates

Matt Gates is vice president of energy management services and solutions for Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort solutions and services, and a brand of Ingersoll Rand. In this role, Gates manages a portfolio of building energy management systems (BEMSs) solutions and leads efforts to commercialize new and differentiated intelligent services offers for North America.