Continuous monitoring is a process used to track building performance parameters in real-time. This helps building managers and operators to figure out any compliance issues and security threats to the building systems.
The performance parameters include Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, lighting, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) monitoring, consumption of electricity, occupant-related data, materials affecting the structural integrity of the building, utilities, energy, lighting, equipment, and appliances.
Continuous monitoring establishes low-cost measures for monitoring energy consumption in buildings using existing networks. Companies achieve significant savings with good collaboration among system managers and energy data that is readily available to them.
Continuous monitoring is a crucial tool for companies seeking to become more energy efficient.
How Continuous Monitoring Replaces Traditional Monitoring
Traditional monitoring is slow in recognizing the negative impacts of system anomalies within mesh networks even after their detection. Since commercial buildings account for a huge percentage of energy consumption (nearly 40 percent of national energy use), continuous monitoring of energy utilization should be taken seriously.
By configuring a continuous monitoring software tool and putting security control applications in place, decision-makers will be assisted by simultaneous data gathering which leads to much greater coverage, reduced risk, and better decision-making – effectively replacing traditional monitoring.
Goals of Continuous Monitoring for Energy Efficiency
Energy inefficiency can result from a host of factors like misuse, outmoded equipment, servicing neglect, power surges, dirt accumulation, and occupant behavior. They can occur at any given point in time and if left unsolved they can result in increased operational risk and decreased profit margins.
With continuous monitoring, commercial properties can achieve energy efficiency under these goals:
- Provide near-immediate feedback and insight into performance and network interactions across the infrastructure
- Conduct steadfast scrutiny on building performance parameters for faster problem identification and solution implementation, avoiding downtime and revenue loss
- Determine user experience and behavior following new application updates
- Mitigate cyber-attack risks through the identification of suspicious network activity and timely alert system
- Increase the network’s visibility and transparency into network activity to make building operations faster, less risky, and cheaper
How Continuous Monitoring for Energy Efficiency Works
The need to implement measures targeted at saving energy has given rise to the creation of a proactive, timely, and efficient system that can continuously monitor a building’s systems, operations, and performance round the clock.
Continuous monitoring for energy efficiency works by providing real-time visibility systems and equipment as they work to provide comfort controls to the building. This type of monitoring gives organizations the ability to constantly look over their energy use to keep it in control by integrating smart technologies within the infrastructure like sensors, meters, monitors, and computerized software programs.
By capturing, communicating, and interpreting building-related data instantly, the company can enhance its energy efficiency measures essential for accurate decision-making. This, in turn, will improve the overall performance of the building.
How to Implement Continuous Monitoring
Implementing a continuous monitoring solution is a robust and versatile solution aimed at providing easy-manageable and easy-readable information to be used by local energy managers. It also allows companies to monitor network flow, identify incongruities within the system, and create actionable insights.
Implementing a continuous monitoring software solution can be done in five basic steps:
Acquire energy data
First, the organization must acquire data by implementing new meters or meter readers in the building. To do this, they can replace old meters with electronic ones or install special devices like optical readers and magnetic pulses sensors on existing meters that are able to keep information about instant energy consumptions.
Transmit the data
The second step to implementing continuous monitoring is to determine the means of transmitting data between meters and servers depending on the capital and ongoing costs associated with them.
Configure a continuous monitoring software
When the desired energy controls are coordinated, the organization can begin to configure a continuous monitoring software tool to obtain data and collect log files from the systems on the network. These log files are important for the measurement of key operational metrics.
Process and analyze the data on energy consumption
Energy consumption tests should be conducted to understand energy usage trends in a graphical or numeric manner and validate the whole data process. With these tests in place, stakeholders could have a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis and make two comparisons: energy data from before and after the implementation of the energy efficiency solution, and energy data given by energy meters and the software. This will help them analyze the overall functionality of the continuous monitoring software in terms of saving energy.
Continue to audit
There are millions of data points generated and centralized each day via log aggregation. All this information must be continually assessed to identify operational issues that require attention from a human analyst.
By continuously auditing the effects of the implemented energy saving actions to the consumption profile of the building, decision-makers can choose which possible energy efficiency action would be in the direction of reducing energy consumption and evaluate energy saving opportunities that fit the building’s energy profile and budget limitations.
Continuously Monitored Information and Systems
Continuous monitoring aims not just to obtain data from all aspects of the buildings infrastructure but also to evaluate the constantly changing energy use regularly. These are the parameters that can be tracked in a modern commercial facility:
- HVAC: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems ensure adequate ventilation with filtration and provide thermal comfort
- Environmental conditions: includes the monitoring of temperature, pressure, humidity, and other environmental factors
- Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): includes monitoring oxygen levels and presence of gaseous pollutants such as CO, CO2, volatile organic compounds (VOC)
- Occupancy: includes occupant behavior, occupancy levels, and tenant movement
- Lighting: smart buildings feature ‘smart lighting’ which monitors the brightness inside the building to mimic natural light and adjust to occupant needs
- Electrical Consumption: regulates energy use and sends surplus electricity back to the grid for profit
- Others: includes equipment and appliances, utilities, and other materials that affect the structural integrity of the building
How IoT Assists Continuous Monitoring
Internet of Things (IOT) software uses sensors that are embedded directly into the building to glean data which, via a continuous monitoring solution, will be transmitted to the intended users. The features in the IoT software can enhance data collection and provide a better approach to production management.
The continuous monitoring of processes that IoT connectivity provides will help identify potential bottlenecks and implement adjustments in nearly real-time. Configured intelligently, the IoT software can also provide an upgrade to existing monitoring solutions.
Why Continuous Monitoring is Important
Continuous monitoring is important because it ensures the placement of reliable, relevant, and effective controls within the building which impact the indoor environment, comfort of occupants, productivity, energy consumption, building and equipment maintenance, and operational costs.
It helps companies implement updated energy efficiency measures and identify loopholes in the existing ones. Commercial infrastructures will benefit a lot from a continuous monitoring program. The future of smart buildings depends on it.
Benefits of Continuous Monitoring
Organizations that employ a continuous monitoring solution can enjoy a significant competitive advantage, especially against competitors that are still performing a periodic analysis of older data using the traditional monitoring approach.
Their attitude towards building management will be more informed, and they will benefit from a tremendous decrease in costs and compliance risk. Continuous monitoring means less unpleasant surprises in the long run.
Here are some advantages associated with continuous monitoring:
For facility operators, switching from a reactive role to a more proactive one in managing buildings means gaining the ability to determine the perfect time to carry out maintenance activities. By putting continuous monitoring systems in place, you will obtain real-time data which will give you a macro-level view of the inner workings of the buildings. This will enable you to track the asset risks, plan ahead, and avoid unexpected outages and work interruptions.
Increase in network visibility and rate of incident response time
Continuous monitoring opens a window of visibility into the systems within the building and its integrated real-time security intelligence. This gives you the ability to aggregate, normalize, and analyze data from throughout the network to ensure that important events and trends are not missed.
Improved Incident Response Time
The transparency of energy-saving measures enable rapid incident response since the incident response teams can see the damage and work on minimizing it immediately. They become better equipped at handling operational issues and restoring energy systems during a breach.
Any organization would do well with being able to self-audit and measure user behavior on the network to optimize customer experience and direct users to their desired tasks and activities more efficiently. Especially in today’s business climate where competition is stiff, you can use this data to edge out your competitors.
Minimize Downtime and Outages
Building operators will be able to anticipate errors and can react more quickly to application performance issues due to access to real-time data, which means being able to maintain system uptime and performance. Continuous monitoring helps IT Ops to rectify errors before they lead to service outages and user experience interruption.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, in its publication NIST SP 800-137, defines continuous monitoring as supporting organizational risk management decisions. Round-the-clock data capturing across various systems and equipment provides a portfolio-level view of data and a solid ground to establish a baseline for the building performance. Access to this much data allows for better analytics and near accurate information, which can be used to provide insight on sound decision-making, especially for those in charge.
Better Management of Resources
Resources and utilities such as water and gas levels can be better tracked as they are being consumed. With sensors in place, you never have to worry about your building exhausting its critical assets and utilities to a shortage since they will alert operators when the levels become critical thus allowing for proactive actions.
Risk is significantly reduced through system efficiency. Because building operators can detect issues early on, they can instantly resolve them at the fraction of the cost, thereby avoiding expensive and disruptive intervention. With continuous monitoring, threats to energy efficiency, safety, and tenant satisfaction are dealt with at once.
Healthy and Safe Workplace
Health and safety concerns are the most pressing aspect of managing a commercial facility. Occupants are entitled to work in a healthy and safe environment, and it is imperative that building owners and managers keep them informed about HVAC systems and security controls in the building to ensure the health and safety of the people inside.
Continuous monitoring helps in proving building compliance and pursuing certification by detecting shortcomings if present and using the available data to improve building performance. The benefits of continuous monitoring present long-term opportunities for securing the future of an organization’s infrastructure. For decision-makers, they make all the difference.
ActiveBAS offers an ideal continuous monitoring solution for organizations that wish to enhance the energy efficiency and operational performance of their infrastructure and applications.
- U.S. Department of Energy-Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. (October 20008). Energy Efficiency Trends in Residential and Commercial Buildings. Retrieved August 29, 2020, from https://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/corporate/bt_stateindustry.pdf