By Jim Simpson, Director, Higher Education Energy Solutions, North America, Johnson Controls
(This article appears in the August, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)
Students often are taught that knowledge is power. Now campus school administrators are learning it for themselves. Smart building technologies tied together through control systems and monitored through simple dashboards are helping educational institutions make better decisions. The result? Saving money, increasing efficiency of operations, and improving campus comfort.
Many multi-building campuses have control systems spitting out mounds of data. According to the Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator, a global survey of 4,000 building executives, more than eight in ten organizations measure and record data on a weekly or monthly basis.
But everybody’s busy. The research shows that although they have greater access to energy data, few take advantage of it: Less than two in ten sites review and analyze that data at least weekly.
With a dashboard approach, administrators can take real-time, quality data and cross-reference it to whatever metrics they choose so they can make sound decisions. The dashboard can graphically report elements such as energy and water use, carbon intensity, infrastructure conditions, capital needs, real estate assets and more.
Instead of just looking at a monthly utility bill, a dashboard provides relevant, live information in an easy-to-understand graphic chart. When the school board or university president asks, “How much do our utility and maintenance costs go up during the winter?” or “How much are we spending on capital improvements in relation to the value of the facility?” the answer is right there.
Trends are easy to spot. Anomalies stand out – and can be fixed. It’s especially helpful when developing strategies in support of a campus master plan, determining the need for new buildings, deacquistioning excess real estate or developing space management.
And the dashboards aren’t just for administrative and technical decision-makers. At the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and other schools, students get a chance to see how green their buildings are. Special kiosks display real-time information that compares energy use in buildings, shows how much electricity the campus purchases and produces, and indicates the amount of CO2 discharged into the air by the power plant.
With the information and the ability to make decisions, come schools and campuses that are more efficient and ready to face challenges of the future.