Are Your Energy Systems On Trend?

As homes become smarter — using motion detectors to turn on lights and smart thermostats to automatically adjust heat or air-conditioning depending on the season — people expect their workplace to have similar efficiencies and conveniences so they can work better, experience more comfort and be safer.

To meet the users’ demands and achieve financial and energy savings goals, private employers and public entities are looking to energy services companies (ESCOs) to optimize their energy systems. This often comes at the expense of the users of their space as the companies implementing the projects are focused on financial and energy savings exclusively. Technologies and projects are implemented without taking into account what matters most — the users.

A different approach to the traditional model is energy systems optimization – a more holistic method to energy efficiency that optimizes energy systems to achieve not only maximized financial and energy savings, but also an improved environment for users that foster productivity, comfort and safety.

A good example of how energy systems optimization can improve spaces for users is with lighting.

“Enhancing lighting systems to adjust to occupants circadian rhythms can brighten people’s moods, make them happier and more productive in a safer environment,” said Brian Burcham, a member of the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) and proponent of energy systems optimization.

With the addition of advanced lighting controls, users are given full control to adjust lighting in their space to meet their unique needs. Light levels can be dimmed or brightened, and color temperatures can even be adjusted on certain LED fixtures allowing the user to create an optimal atmosphere based on their preferences or work requirements.

In addition to lighting, improved comfort and productivity can be positively impacted by a building’s mechanical and control systems.

Ken Lane, a building automation controls expert with nearly 20 years of experience pointed out that the lives of the people using the space are improved, when all systems are tied to one easily accessed platform to best manage the lights and temperature within a space.

“Lights come on when people are in various parts of the building, temperature rises or lowers as lights go off and on AND all of the systems can be controlled from one device and intuitive application,” Lane said. “Money is saved, energy is saved and people are happier working and visiting spaces where temperatures are more even and always set to optimal levels when occupied.”

Burcham said the money saved isn’t just in reduced energy costs, but a more productive and content workforce.

“While the employer wants to save money on energy usage, they also want a productive and happy staff because that affects their bottom line too,” Burcham said. “As technological advancements continue to rise, optimization of energy systems can have a positive impact across all three – financial, energy and human.”

Burcham believes that in 10 years, all ESCOs will either become energy systems optimization companies or be out of business.

“Energy systems optimization is the future,” he said. “It is the only way that energy efficiency has positive impacts across all dimensions.”

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