Scaling commercial energy efficiency
MIT News, November 16, 2015. Image credit: Unsplash
Increasingly, regulators and customers are pressing utilities to find better ways to save energy. Many times, companies send auditors from building to building to gauge the efficiency of lights and HVAC units and offer suggestions for savings, which can take weeks and cost thousands of dollars, Fisher says.
But Retroficiency offers a fully automated approach, which makes it scalable, Fisher says. “Our ability to take in consumption data and analyze buildings without a manual touch point enables us to analyze those buildings in a matter of minutes, and scale cost-effectively to hundreds of thousands of assets,” he says.
To do so, Retroficiency grabs energy consumption data — such as monthly bills and interval data from meters — from thousands to hundreds of thousands of commercial buildings serviced by a utility company. That data is combined with publicly available information — such as local weather, the age of the building’s equipment, and types of windows — to determine energy use patterns.
From that data analytics process, Retroficiency creates unique thermodynamic energy models for each building and can show current energy consumption at the end-use level and propose building-specific measures to improve efficiency.
Some buildings, for instance, may leave the lights on overnight or when no one is there, or simply fail to adjust a thermostat when heating or cooling isn’t needed. Retroficiency will inform the utility company of the exact buildings that should implement solutions to those issues, such as adjusting lighting times or thermostat settings.
The platform can also detect defective or outdated equipment for potential repairs or replacements, says Long, now Retroficiency’s chief technology officer. “We can see how the HVAC system responds to heat and we can tell, generally speaking, if it’s stressed, or undersized, or out of maintenance,” he says. The same goes for inefficient light bulbs that could use an upgrade. All data analytics is done remotely.
The utility companies can use this information, say, through a Retroficiency-powered Web portal to let customers check in on their energy usage and savings opportunities, or to give the data to account managers at energy service providers who engage with building managers about how to increase efficiency.