As consumers, policymakers, businesses, or as a society in general, people are increasingly becoming concerned about our generation’s carbon footprint. The growing focus also means that our built environment, (ie. responsible for over 40% of the world’s energy consumption), has become a very important part of this debate as a critical solution to achieve a sustainable future. However, sustainability initiatives continue to remain half-baked, making real change far-fetched.

Energy Service Companies (ESCO’s), though in operation for the past two decades, have gained great traction in recent years as the optimum route to achieving energy efficiency. According to Navigant Research, the global ESCO market is expected to grow from $15.0 billion in 2017 to $30.8 billion in 2026. 

ESCO’s bring a host of benefits to clients, from financing to technical expertise to large-scale implementation, at times even taking on the risk of project success.

But the brunt and pressure of the success of EE initiatives are being borne, to a large extent, by ESCO companies. 

Whether you are operating under shared savings, guaranteed savings or an integrated solutions model, ESCO’s are often hard-pressed to achieve sizeable energy efficiency owing to a variety of reasons, like: 

  • Poor visibility into electro-mechanical asset performance; lack of transparency across building portfolios
  • Inability to track and collate granular data on building performance and improvement measures in real-time
  • Multi-vendor automation systems, operating in silos, that complicate and delay ESCO project cycles
  • Absence of a data-driven approach to measure and correct performance proactively
  • Inability to generate actionable insights that can guide informed decision-making and action before it’s too late

ESCO challenges

 

All these challenges have made it difficult for ESCO’s to manage and scale multiple projects. This keeps sustainability a distant dream for CRE owners and large enterprises to put it into regular operational practices. 

 

Leveraging building automation data to predict and boost energy efficiency  

Today, digital technologies are embedded in nearly everything we do, affecting the way we live, work, travel, play and experience our environment. 

In the energy space, digital transformation is already helping improve the safety, productivity, accessibility, and sustainability of energy efficiency in buildings. IoT technology, deployed across existing automation within buildings, allows data to be acquired and collated at a single central repository. By subjecting this data to the analysis of AI algorithms, real estate portfolio operators can now generate real-time insights on asset and energy inefficiency and immediately direct corrective action. Machine Learning allows the system to learn from past building and sustainability performance operations on an ongoing basis. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, cloud computing gives all stakeholders, from owners and energy managers to contracted maintenance workforce, mobility and instant access to targeted, accurate and reliable information to make data-driven decisions.

These can help ESCO’s in better sustainability prediction across portfolios, as well as the delivery of higher energy savings; ROI – something that stands at the core of their service models.

So should ESCO’s wait for the mainstreaming of these tech-advancements? Or should they take the bull by the horns and chart their own fast-track to energy efficiency?

 

Forward-thinking ESCOs are already leading the transformation

Some progressive ESCO’s, like Smart AE and a few others, are already charting their own course to energy efficiency success in the Middle East. We see them tapping into advanced digital transformation and next-gen tech to not only deliver energy efficiency but also multiply its impact manifold by embedding sustainability as a daily habit in large facilities. 

A strategic element of energy transformation is the accessibility to unified, real-time data. Despite the massive volume of data being generated across the distributed and multi-vendor automation systems in a building, it has largely remained dormant and unused due to a lack of a unified platform and data analytics. 

Today ESCOs are increasingly realizing the value of data-driven efficiencies and insight-led decision-making to stay relevant in today’s competitive and environment-conscious landscape. 

Some of the key benefits that progressive ESCO’s are gaining from harnessing a data-driven enterprise platform include:

  • Accurately quantify energy savings and reap faster ROI

ESCO’s are being empowered by the connectivity and intelligence of IoT, AI and ML-based enterprise platforms like Facilio that are enabling insight-led decision-making and accelerating the route to energy savings, and ROI. Data captured from existing and new projects allow ESCOs to develop sophisticated statistical models to help stakeholders understand building performance as well as the impact on end-users/tenants/occupants from an operational, maintenance, and comfort perspective. This also aids in accurately predicting energy savings and avoiding uncertainties.

  • Faster and higher energy efficiencies with Digital retrofits

Digital retrofits leverage existing infrastructure and therefore delivers faster and higher energy efficiencies as opposed to traditional physical retrofits alone. This increases the TCO for end customers and thereby lowers the barrier to sustainability.

  • Predictive sustainability

ML-driven analysis and advanced fault detection and diagnostic mechanisms can identify anomalies and inefficiencies affecting energy consumption predictively. Integrating these with triggers for resolutions to end-customer or contracted FM service personnel, can lead to better response times; workforce productivity, faster resolution, and more sustained sustainability. 

  • Centralized visibility and actionable insights

With a unified data-driven enterprise platform, ESCO’s can enjoy the benefit of centralized visibility across portfolios and across multiple sites. They can establish portfolio-wide benchmarks, witness lowered overheads, simplify audits, and can seamlessly scale multiple projects together.

Further, captured data can be analyzed and decoded to create actionable insights for service usage by category, end-use breakdown, comparison with baseline, portfolio-wide benchmarking and even Carbon emission tags and energy cost projections. audits, EnPI, portfolio-wide benchmarking, multiple ECMs.

 

Closing Thoughts

In 2020, ESCO’s stand at the cusp of digital transformation for energy management in buildings. If you haven’t thought about digitizing your sustainability services, you should. Jump in, ride the wave and create your mark to consciously embed sustainability as a daily habit in building operations. 

If you’re unsure of where to start – simply speak to our solutions expert to get a free assessment of how your ESCO business can scale with technology.