It’s not easy going green – but the Internet of Things can help

Businesses are under more pressure than ever to cut emissions and become more energy efficient.

Yet, beyond corporate social responsibility there are many advantages to going green, from cutting energy costs to winning recognition in your industry for being on the cutting edge.

This is easier said than done, however. Complying with the latest environmental standards, from BRREAM to ISO 50001 is no small feat, demanding ambitious targets for constant improvement and strong processes for data collection and conditions monitoring.

Businesses increasingly understand they need to start somewhere, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is there to help. Connected devices embedded throughout a building’s structure and systems provide the data needed to make a difference. Software that then gives you visibility into operations and the ability to optimise completes the puzzle. Insight on equipment health, occupancy and energy usage will help building and facility managers intervene to cut emissions, consumption and costs.

The green IoT revolution

When green standards are met, real sustainability progress is achieved. Between 2013 and 2015, organisations that achieved an ‘outstanding’ rating in schemes including CASBE and BREEAM made CO2 emissions savings of up to 66 per cent. Yet getting there is a considerable technological challenge. 

Environmental standards take an all-encompassing view of business operations. Organisations are measured and rated on everything from energy consumption to performance and the health and wellbeing of staff. Businesses need to prove that they are compliant, and doing so requires massive amounts of data from practically every area of the organisation. A connected, joined-up building infrastructure is fundamental.   

Only through cross-system communication is compliance and energy efficiency possible.  Much of the IoT’s value lies in its ability to integrate the various, complex components and IT systems that make up any modern building or facility. When building systems can ‘talk’ with each other, the resilience of the infrastructure is strengthened. This provides access to a greater volume of intelligence, leading to more robust compliance and better use of resources.

An IoT-connected system enhances an organisation’s pursuit of greater energy efficiency, where the rapid collection of, and reaction to, massive amounts of information is essential. For example, having IoT devices and sensors integrated with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system means that organisations can collect real-time data on energy consumption and device health. Armed with this information, organisations are empowered to take a fresh look at their current practices, generate business change and create efficiencies that cut costs and emissions.

From an energy management perspective, Schneider Electric’s PowerLogic ION9000 is the ideal connected solution. Part of the EcoStruxure solutions architecture, the meter is the most accurate on the market and comes with onboard power quality analysis. It records and collects energy consumption data across an entire building or facility, and automatically correlates trends and events for easier analysis. The meter is also able to flag the root causes of any power quality issues, giving engineers the insight they need to get to work. 

The potential for savings, innovation and optimisation in an IoT-enabled environment represents substantial ROI. By connecting previously siloed systems, businesses can use the IoT to augment their processes and put a green regime in place.

Knowing is half the battle

However, using advanced sensors to collect data is only part of the equation. To utilise data for compliance and efficiency, your system for data capture, analysis and reporting can’t be ignored. Software is the linchpin of the IoT. To function properly, connected devices must be tied together in a way that enables cross-system interaction. Put simply, it means businesses need the right software in place to facilitate communication. Software is the glue holding everything together; without it, conditions monitoring, reporting and emissions reduction aren’t possible.

A building management system’s (BMS) value rests on the quality of software within it. When considering the solutions to invest in, companies should place a premium on software that expands connectivity to new areas, extending it beyond the building control system. A closed system can never truly thrive.

Data on weather, electricity pricing and predictions of occupancy levels are just some of the areas where superior software can boost performance and cut emissions. For example, knowing when occupancy levels are reduced, building operators can program the BMS to put part of a building into a temperature setback. This has the potential to cut heating and cooling emissions significantly, with more savings possible with changes to lighting and ventilation.

Schneider Electric’s Power Monitoring Expert (PME) software performs the crucial role of making sense of IoT data and presenting it to building operators in an easy to understand way. It connects to smart devices across your electrical system, from power and energy meters to protective relays and circuit breakers. The system acts as the window to the digitised power network, taking advantage of IoT connectivity to give operators complete visibility.

Working together, IoT-connected devices and building management software will give you the data and control capabilities you need to make positive interventions and achieve sustainability. At the same time, compliance need not be painful. In fact, a compliant system is also an efficient one, boosting both your green credentials and your bottom line. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of businesses agree that prioritising sustainability drives innovation and financial stability. In the end, compliance pays for itself and then some.


About the Author

David Lam is Power Solutions Business Development Manager for UK&I at Schneider Electric.

Featured image: Sashkin

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