While ESG is comprised of 16 different application categories, the most known remains building management systems (BMS).
When we launched ESG, some people questioned why the fabled BMS, located in the basement of most commercial office buildings, wasn’t itself the ESG solution. Wired to building systems, with its green screen and HVAC graphics, this box is the physical representation of energy management, right?
So why have BMS partnerships and acquisition become the recent norm, with Johnson Controls (perhaps the BMS leader) partnering with IBM for building analytics, IBM acquiring Tririga as their own building management application and Schneider acquiring Summit Energy, adding energy data analytics services to their offering? These deals confirm that the BMS is not pre-wired for ESG.
Our research tells us that the typical BMS:
1 – is not universally connected and configured for all energy consuming loads
Strike one for ESG Visibility
2 – “controls” traditional building systems by turning them on/off, not based on energy consumption with submetering.
Strike two for ESG Visibility and Control
3 – is accessible only by managers who don’t have the time, staff or incentive to make the BMS manage systems based energy consumption (and they managers work in the basement, which says something).
Strike Three for ESG Visibility, Control with Management Integration
Large BMS vendors maintain that companies need a central hub for all building system data and that their BMS, with software, control logic and connectivity, can be configured to do “anything.”
We spoke with one large retail vendor who had built ESG using a network of smaller standardized store BMSs, configuring them to gather energy usage data and provide control and reporting to a centralized system at their headquarters. It helped that every store had a virtually identical layout and HQ staff could run the ESG-network operating center.
A university told us they used their campus BMS more as aggregation box for all their submetering data, but then added software to present the data and rules for their ESG.
But the reality is that BMSs typically aren’t used for more than a portion of ESG. And BMS partnerships support the thesis that configuring the do-anything box to be more energy centric maybe isn’t that easy after all.
Schneider’s partnership announcement with Cisco will bring IT assets into their dashboard. Using Cisco’s EnergyWise, Schneider’s BMS gains coverage for IT related assets such as phones, printers and PC’s, a non “standard” building system, which consumes a significant portion of the facility’s energy.
Start up Joulex takes an alternative approach for these assets – they’ve specifically tuned their Enterprise Energy Management platform for these IP network-based systems. Rather than rely on BMS control wiring which connects to the HVAC systems, their application simply uses the Ethernet of the corporate LAN.
Hence IT and Data Center is a separate ESG category from BMS.
EnerNoc says it’s more about studying the BMS data. Their view is that, even if more managers had the building data, performing the constant data analysis would be too overwhelming. Their EfficiencySmart product extracts the BMS operating data so that ENOC’s own offsite engineers can perform this energy related detective work to identify the savings opportunities. BMS service model players Cimetrics, Clean Urban Energy and Interval Data would support a similar view.
So the Data Analysis category is a separate ESG category from BMS.
The end-user customer will ultimately decide which ESG integration strategy is best. But if the BMS vendors don’t get there, we may see a hungry IT manager leverage the BMS data to build an entirely new corporate energy management system – which would turn today’s BMS into a relatively large on/off switch.