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Pulse Monitoring Software Keeps Building Energy Savings Locked In

RP Siegel | Monday July 5th, 2010 | 2 Comments


It appears that our neighbors to the North could teach us a few lessons in greensmanship.

Take BC Hydro, for example, the utility company that, concerned about energy consumption in large commercial buildings, has offered $8 million to companies for the purchase of energy management technologies for buildings of 50,000 sq. ft. or more.

One of the players in this Continuous Optimization Program is Vancouver-based Pulse Energy Inc. “We see ourselves as an energy information company,” says Pulse founder David Helliwell who launched the company in 2006. Pulse, which benefited from $7 million in Canadian government funding last year alone, has seen their business grow rapidly. They install a combination of hardware and software that connects any type of metering hardware or building automation system to a web-based application which allows building managers instant access to their building’s energy performance vital signs. This, in turn, alerts managers, immediately if any aspect of the building’s energy performance requires attention. I couldn’t resist sharing this little video commercial, which, according to the company, features Bill Ding.

One happy customer, a large real estate developer, who reduced energy consumption by 18% last year said, “Being able to identify when problems happen in your buildings is a huge advantage. There’s also a good tenant engagement tool that allows tenants to be responsible for their energy consumption, too.”

The company’s Venue Energy Tracker was used at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games where they saved a record-breaking 906 MWh of energy over the 17-day program, making them the most energy-efficient Olympics since the days of the ancient Greeks.

After the Pulse™ system is hooked up to the building’s energy innards, the software provide several useful functions: benchmarking, analytics and meter data archive. See demo.

The benchmarking function, accesses a database of similar buildings to determine how a given building is performing relative to its peers. It can also compare a building’s performance to itself at an earlier time. Any parameter that falls outside of expectations become a red flag to be investigated.

The analytics provides advanced metrics and modeling that predicts how the building is expected to perform under the current conditions. It allows users to predict the benefit of making modifications and also shows how the building would have performed if certain modifications had not been made. This is useful for tracking the payback of energy retrofits.

Finally, the Meter Data Archive provides a complete and detailed history of the building’s energy performance metrics, which can be invaluable for both monitoring the current performance for irregularities, and for tracking the improvements that have been made over time.

Considering the fact that buildings are responsible for 48% of greenhouse gas emissions, it is clear that programs like this can have a huge beneficial impact.

RP Siegel PE, is the Executive Director of Cool Rochester and co-author of Vapor Trails.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter


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Categorized: Green Building|

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  • tkovach

    Good article, RP. These types of programs are an important tool for enabling businesses to realize their energy savings at their fullest potential. It can be difficult to keep track of all the systems in a building and make sure that they are running at their greatest possible efficiency, especially for SMEs, many of which do not have personnel dedicated to energy use and monitoring. Programs like this help to ensure that the systems are working in conjunction with one another, which can go a long way towards making sure that greater efficiency in one system is not countered by a less efficient system. It is especially important for businesses that undertake energy efficient upgrades in a more piecemeal fashion. If the steps are not completed and managed properly, businesses may miss out on savings that they could be realizing otherwise. Software programs, online dashboards, and other such tools are a key piece in the puzzle for energy savings.

    - Tim Kovach,
    Product Coordinator for Energy at COSE
    http://www.cose.org/blog
    http://www.twitter.com/COSEenergy

    • http://www.bmsi.co.uk Bems

      Excellent post. I totally agree with Tim that for some reasons small and medium have always struggled with managing consumption and abide to the energy management laws (depending on countries). Programs/software that manage energy efficiency will definitely help a lot of companies out there.. Brilliant!