Elevating Your Energy Management System (EMS) with Artificial Intelligence

Elevating Your Energy Management System (EMS) with Artificial Intelligence

Understanding energy consumption is essential to identifying strategies to improve environmental sustainability, optimize resource allocation, and reduce operating costs. However, 67% of the energy used in the U.S. is rejected energy (i.e., energy that is being wasted or not fully utilized). Furthermore, not only is the U.S. the second-highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter in the world, but the U.S. is also the highest GHG emitter per capita. These statistics underscore the urgent need to better understand energy usage and its resulting environmental impact. 

An energy management system (EMS) provides this visibility, empowering a greater understanding of energy consumption to help inform energy efficiency strategies. In this blog post, we explore three key benefits of implementing an EMS and why emerging technologies make now the perfect time to take this step.

What is an energy management system (EMS)?

An energy management system (EMS) is a software solution designed to monitor, manage, and optimize a building's energy consumption. An EMS typically includes features such as utility bill tracking, real-time metering, building simulation and modeling, carbon and sustainability reporting, billing error detection, future bill forecasting, IT equipment management, demand response, and energy audits. The purpose of an EMS is to provide insights into energy usage to identify strategies that will improve energy efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and decrease operating costs.

Reasons to adopt an EMS

EMSs offer a number of benefits to companies, building owners, and building operators. EMSs: (1) centralize energy data across sources and buildings, (2) provide insights to help make more informed decisions about energy usage, and (3) facilitate compliance with legislation.

Reason 1: Centralize energy data across sources and buildings

One of the primary benefits of an EMS is that it unifies all energy-related data into a centralized repository, serving as a single source of truth for all your energy-related needs. Not only does an EMS integrate and track data across multiple sources, including the building management system (BMS), equipment, utility meters, and sensors, but it does so across a portfolio. An EMS aggregates, tracks, and normalizes key energy information by site across a portfolio to easily benchmark and compare sites. Furthermore, an EMS also typically collects each building’s various utility bills, streamlining bill tracking and payment. By centralizing all energy data in one place, an EMS enhances productivity and eliminates errors.

Reason 2: Provide insights to help make more informed decisions about energy usage

With the legibility and visibility an EMS provides, you can better understand energy consumption patterns, trends, and anomalies to make better, more informed decisions. For example, an EMS can provide data-driven answers to questions such as:

  • Which sites in the portfolio consume the most energy? Have the highest operating costs? Are the largest sources of GHG emissions?
  • Which pieces of equipment consume the most energy? Have the highest operating costs? Are the largest sources of GHG emissions?
  • Why are certain sites/equipment consuming the most energy? Is it due to size, operations, deficiencies, etc.?
  • Which sites/equipment should we focus on to lower energy consumption, operating costs, GHG emissions, etc.?
  • How are we tracking against our targets for energy consumption, operating costs, GHG emissions, etc.?
  • How effective are our energy conservation efforts?
  • With which sites/equipment have we realized the most energy savings?

From these insights, you can uncover areas of inefficiency, diagnose issues, and identify priority sites for energy conservation measures.

Reason 3: Facilitate compliance with legislation

To address climate change and increase transparency around emissions contributions, legislation requiring reporting of emissions data is increasingly being introduced across the federal, state, and local levels. These regulations vary in terms of reporting requirements and entities affected, from publicly traded companies to building owners. An EMS facilitates compliance with these ever-evolving regulations by centralizing emissions data across buildings in one place, making it easy to accurately and efficiently meet various legislative reporting requirements.

For example, consider the following regulations across the federal, state, and local levels:

Legislation Reporting Requirements Timeline for Reporting Penalties for Failure to Report
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) climate disclosure ruling Requires publicly traded companies to disclose direct and indirect Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions Varies by registration type, with the earliest beginning in 2025 Not yet shared
California’s Climate Accountability Package (SB253 and SB261) Requires businesses with revenues above $1 billion that do business in California to disclose Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 GHG emissions Beginning in 2026 for Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions; beginning in 2027 for Scope 3 GHG emissions Up to $500,000 per reporting year (SB253) and $50,000 per reporting year (SB261)
New York City’s Local Law 97 (LL97) Requires buildings in New York City above 25,000 gross square feet (GSF) and some groups of buildings collectively above 50,000 GSF to report emissions (reporting is one aspect of LL97; the overall purpose is to reduce emissions) First report due by May 1, 2025 $0.50 per square foot per month
Seattle's Building Emissions Performance Standard (BEPS) Requires nonresidential and multifamily buildings above 20,000 square feet to report emissions (reporting is one aspect of BEPS; the overall purpose is to reduce emissions) Varies by building size, with the earliest beginning in 2027 for buildings above 90,000 square feet $15,000 or $7,500, depending on the size of the building
Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) Requires residential buildings equal to or greater than 15 units and non-residential buildings equal to or greater than 20,000 square feet to report emissions (reporting is one aspect of BERDO; the overall purpose is to reduce emissions) Due by May 15 of each year $300 or $150 per day, depending on the size of the building

With requirements that both overlap and diverge across types of legislation, an EMS helps ensure you meet the reporting requirements applicable to you to avoid fines, some of which can be considerable. Given that some reporting periods are already underway, the time to plan your reporting strategy and adopt an EMS is now.

Taking your EMS to the next level: AI-powered energy optimization

While EMSs can provide valuable insights into how to improve energy efficiency, they often fall short in delivering the advanced energy efficiency strategies necessary to achieve sustainability goals. However, software solutions powered by emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), can bridge this gap, such as our AI-powered HVAC optimization platform, Beacon.

Beacon not only features a data repository that provides all the capabilities of an EMS, but also empowers users with AI-driven HVAC controls optimization, allowing you to achieve enhanced energy efficiency. Beacon uses ML to dynamically and continuously optimize setpoint controls in response to real-time, real-world data, considering not just historical energy consumption, but also weather conditions, utility rates, component performance, and more. The result is a 30% decrease in energy consumption, GHG emissions, and operating costs—delivered in weeks rather than months.

Whether you’re implementing your first EMS or are considering an upgrade, today’s advanced technology offers the opportunity to adopt a next-generation software system that provides all the functionality of an EMS while enabling advanced energy optimization solutions. Beacon empowers you to not only understand your energy consumption patterns, but also leverage advanced energy conservation strategies to accelerate your sustainability efforts, minimize energy consumption, and reduce operating costs.

To learn more about how Beacon can help you meet your energy consumption, reporting, and conservation goals, request a demo today.

Nicole Laskowski
Nicole Laskowski
Head of Brand & Communications
May 29, 2024