Using Advanced Analytics to Meet Comprehensive Energy Reduction Targets
More and more global cities are setting ambitious targets for energy reduction, but all face major challenges related to scale. Traditional approaches for gathering energy usage data, translating data into insight, and delivering that insight to stakeholders is too expensive and time-consuming to scale across even small cities. However, remote energy analytics can scale exponentially. FirstFuel Software provides an energy management platform to drive efficiency in a ‘zero-touch’ remote delivery model. FirstFuel provides comprehensive energy consumption outputs across all building types/sizes using available data, while using ongoing data to identify, enable, and track energy reduction opportunities across time – without onsite visits or devices.
Currently serving large US utilities and gov’t agencies in meeting energy targets, FirstFuel’s platform integrates into other energy platforms, which enables a partnership-based approach to city energy and sustainability goals. FirstFuel impact includes:
•Economy: 6-8x faster to ID large efficiency savings at 75-90% cost reductions; over 200GWh of ID’d savings.
•Culture: Driving historic building preservation, behavioral energy changes, and uniting citizens towards energy conservation
•Ecology: GhG KPI’s help stakeholders understand ecological impact, and focus efforts on biggest environment preservation opportunities
•Politics: Supporting government open data and communication standards to improve transparency around energy usage
Problem In attempts to meet pressing financial, social, and regulatory climate pressures, more and more global cities are setting ambitious targets for comprehensive energy reduction. The major challenge with all current energy efficiency approaches is, simply put, one of scale. The building sector, for example, arguably represents the single largest global opportunity for energy reductions – as 30% of all energy goes completely unused. However, traditional approaches for gathering building energy usage data are manual (for example on-site evaluations, device installations, and other energy tracking methods) and far too expensive and time-consuming to scale across even the smallest cities. In addition, the analytics necessary to translate vast amounts of available usage data into intelligent insight about where to conserve energy – and deliver such insight –to both central city officials and local building/energy managers proves equally manual and difficult to execute at scale. The shortcomings of current approaches are highly detrimental to the financial and economic sustainability of major cities, as current buildings are estimated to become the largest GhG emitters by 2025.
FirstFuel Software is the market-leading meter data analytics company that enables scalable energy efficiency for utilities and cities. While traditional energy management approaches can only scale linear to the total # of field practitioners or installed devices, FirstFuel’s Remote Building Analytics (RBA) platform scales exponentially by using already available meter data to drive efficiency in a ‘zero-touch’ remote delivery model. The RBA platform not only provides comprehensive energy consumption outputs across all building types/sizes, but uses ongoing data to identify, enable, and track energy reduction opportunities across time – without any onsite visits or devices.
Sold to electricity providers and their customers as a SaaS-based web portal, FirstFuel focuses squarely on delivering consumption insight in a manner that actually drives efficiency. This occurs on two critical levels – first, an energy portfolio view that serves as a ‘command center’ for evaluating and prioritizing efficiency opportunities; and second, a whole-building view that breaks consumption into end-uses (e.g. lighting) and provides recommendations that building operators use to achieve energy savings. The RBA easily integrates into other energy platforms across residential/industrial sectors, which enables a partnership-based approach to meeting city energy and sustainability needs. FirstFuel currently serves several large US utilities and govt agencies in meeting large energy reduction targets
Impact on economy
Utilities and government agencies (city, state, federal) using FirstFuel have reported 6-8x speed improvements in identifying large efficiency savings opportunities, at a 75-90% cost reduction compared to traditional energy management approaches. In addition to tremendous time and cost advantages, FirstFuel has already uncovered over 200GWh of identified building savings across hundreds of millions of building sq ft (equivalent to taking 30,000 cars off the road). When extrapolated to large city building portfolios, FirstFuel’s platform has the potential to identify, and help deliver on, tremendous levels of energy and carbon emissions reductions.
In addition, while the building industry often prioritizes large overhauls of existing buildings (called retrofits), FirstFuel’s deep analytics are best at identifying hard to identify operational changes that building operators can implement immediately at almost no cost. A recent sampling of FirstFuel’s database of analyzed buildings uncovered that 51% of all energy efficiency savings are operational in nature. If FirstFuel’s analysis and findings helps to shift the disproportionate focus on building retrofits, cities have the opportunity to essentially double their potential for energy reductions.
Not only do these savings improve financial performance for building owners and operators, but large energy reductions can limit the need for governments and electricity providers to develop expensive new generation assets.
Impact on culture
Conserving energy has an important behavioral element that can unite citizens in a unified attempt to achieve large city-wide goals. FirstFuel’s largest cultural impact is its ability to aggregate and disseminate energy usage behavior in mass form to buildings, which are responsible for supporting many major activities within cities (e.g. business, theater, education, government). Energy efficiency projects that are revealed through FirstFuel’s analytics can tie to preservation/re-invigoration of historic buildings with deep significance to leading cities. For example, one FirstFuel engineer helped lead the historic retrofit efficiency project for the Empire State Building in New York – which was widely lauded by both city officials and its citizens.
FirstFuel’s platform also opens up the opportunities for ‘energy challenges’ and other behavior-based approaches to create a common bond towards energy reduction. Now, building and facility managers (as well as building occupants) can understand how their energy usage compares with other similar building types/sizes, and also how their approach to energy management impacts the broader city and environment. In addition, citizens who occupy buildings can be motivated to conserve energy through simple recommendations that the FirstFuel portal provides. Where possible, FirstFuel aligns its mission to deliver city-scale energy efficiency with related societal initiatives around energy conservation education and awareness.
Impact on ecology
The FirstFuel RBA platform includes key performance indicators around the carbon emissions associated with building consumption, as well as specific energy reduction recommendations. This helps city officials, building owners and operators, and citizens understand the climate impact from complete building portfolios all the way down to small operational efficiency measures.
In addition, reducing energy consumption through implementation of energy conservation measures recommended by FirstFuel Software has a significant ecological impact in the following ways:
•Helps to reduce controversial new generation resources that can have negative environmental impacts for cities and nations (i.e. coal mining, fracking, and enhanced oil recovery)
•Provides large societal health benefits related to reducing smog levels that create a large separation between efficient and inefficient cities – boosting tourism, property prices, and overall well-being
•Helps reduce a major source of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, thus mitigating climate change both locally and globally
•Creates a more sustainable built environment with efficient building systems that last for future generations
Impact on politics
FirstFuel’s platform is designed to harness data in a manner that opens up transparency and communication around energy use. For example, the White House and US Department of Energy recognize the FirstFuel solution as a leading tool for creating open data standards around energy consumption: alpha.data.gov . By closely aligning itself with open data standards such as Energy Star Portfolio Manager and Green Button Connect, FirstFuel is committed to supporting the political and regulatory development related to energy efficiency at large-scale.
In addition, FirstFuel believes that its deep building energy insight has the potential to create new jobs and spur local innovation related to building efficiency. Specifically, this will help to develop construction and other trade jobs, foster innovation by creating the demand for more energy efficient equipment, and support citywide green building standards (e.g. LEED certification). If chosen, FirstFuel looks forward to its partnership with a paired city to deliver on its policy-related objectives.