Buildings are under increasing pressure to lower energy consumption, both to comply with legislation and to respond to market demand. New entrants, both in sub-metering hardware and Big Data analytics, will help audit the 760 billion ft2 of available building space, says a new report from Lux Research.
“Today, sub-metering devices are now available to measure all types of building utilities, such as electricity, water, fuels, and heating or cooling input, with very high precision – but with a high cost to match,” said Alex Herceg, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled Proof in Performance – Improving BEMS (Building Energy Management Systems) through Measurement and Verification. "Still, as real-estate managers slowly adopt a data-driven approach, the demand for the devices that can deliver actionable insights will grow."
At the moment, there are opportunities at the bottom of the building pyramid. Current offerings are not a good fit for buildings under 50,000 ft2 – the cost is too high to justify the energy savings. But an EU directive calling for energy services aimed at this segment could lead to a new model for servicing small structures.
The report also suggests that energy service companies (ESCOs) need to expand their reach. While measuring energy performance began as energy conservation measures for large institutional portfolios, it has been hobbled by the high initial cost of sub-metering infrastructure. ESCOs need to tailor their offerings to reach out to the broader commercial sector.
Companies such as Sefaira and Retroficiencey are poised to democratize the market, replacing expensive energy modeling techniques and inadequate physics simulation engines. Sefaira uses a cloud-based tool to rapidly prototype a building and assess energy impacts of design decisions. Similarly, Retroficiency's "Automated Energy Audit" is a rapid-modeling tool to help engineers find opportunities for energy savings.