Army, Navy using big data to increase energy savings
- By Frank Konkel
- Dec 11, 2013
The Army and Navy are using big data analytics to identify energy savings opportunities in more than 650 worldwide facilities, with a target of making half of all Navy buildings net-zero energy by 2020, producing as much energy as they consume.
The services contracted with Washington, D.C.-based Sain Engineering to conduct energy audits at specified buildings through 2014 using analytics technology expected to reduce audit time by 80 percent.
The Automated Energy Audit, developed by Boston-based Retroficiency, allows guided data collection specific to the type of building in the creation of a model for each facility that depicts how a building uses energy.
The analytics software can then examine combinations of more than 2,000 potential optimization measures – everything from glaring issues like HVAC renovations to subtle operational changes – providing automated outputs. Buildings within a portfolio can be ranked in terms of energy consumption and efficiency, allowing stakeholders to get the best bang for their buck in optimizing them.
“Our tool is trying to automate as much as possible the entire process of an auditor collecting data while on site, using it to make calculations on potential energy savings measures and streamlining reporting measures,” said Retroficiency CEO Bennett Fisher.
For decades, the traditional motif for energy audits has required an auditor to physically inventory an entire building – usually over the course of several days –then compile reports and analysis. Fisher said analytics speeds up the inventory process by telling an auditor what kinds of data to collect, and further improves audits through its ability to compare vast combinations of potential improvements based on the building model itself. In addition, Fisher said, Automated Energy Audit continually assesses a building “for ongoing solutions,” positioning stakeholders to respond rapidly to new requirements or federal mandates.
The federal government occupies some 500,000 buildings worldwide – far more than any other private or public sector entity – spending $7 billion per year essentially just keeping the lights on. Because much of that money – some government data suggests between 30 and 40 percent – is ultimately wasted through inefficiencies, Fisher said the influx of analytics to energy audits could eventually lead to major savings. The energy audits of the 650 Army and Navy buildings could serve as a use case for other agencies.
“Large-scale portfolio owners like DOD can drive deeper energy savings at a fraction of the cost of a manual approach,” Fisher said.
Frank Konkel is a staff writer covering big data, mobile, open government and a range of science/technology issues. Connect with him on Twitter at @Frank_Konkel.