Dead Belgians and Energy Managers

A dead Belgian surrealist painter has much in common with the aims of an energy manager.

When RenĂ© Magritte, famously wrote –
 “This is not a pipe”
he challenged perceptions of reality.

To challenge perception is the main job of an energy manager.

Energy Saving - 5 Obvious Measures

The shocking thing about climate change is how easy and inexpensive it could be to do a lot to reduce energy waste.  Here are some really simple ideas - maybe you can add some suggestions in the comments.

Regulation that all buildings must publish a policy for inside temperature conditions and may not define a "dead-band" of less than 3C or 5.5F.  A dead-band is the range where the temperature is deemed both hot enough and cold enough.  Narrow dead-bands cause over-controlling (like a learner driver in a stick-shift car).  In reality aiming to maintain a 0 Degree dead-band can (and often does waste a lot of energy) !

Require that all buildings that provide comfort or server-cooling publish the outside temperature at which they will rely on free cooling (i.e. ventilation with free cold air). Companies with silly policies could then be named and shamed (about 95% of office blocks in London are in this category).

In forced ventilation buildings ensure an interlock between fan-power and heating / cooling functions - If windows are opened building services are disabled !

Ask every energy manager in the world to write down a schedule of occupancy hours and post it on a public web-site.  Until senior management agree it, or correct it - everyone can go home on full-pay. (Most energy managers are not given clear objectives).

Ensure that energy consumption for every public building is made publicly available, for criticism, comment and analysis.

Please add your answers below and have a look at what is happening in the US with the Green Button Initiative - We could do with some of that in Europe.

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Energy Manager are human too

My job is not to manage energy (thankfully)

Why "thankfully" ? - because the role of an energy manager is fundamentally thankless...
  1. An accurate one-line job description of an energy manager is "to do more with less"; 
  2. Then if our energy manager succeeds in this first objective then their second task is by default ... "to do more with less"
  3. And so on until they can achieve no more. 

Grimm (sic.) News for Energy Management

The best fairy tales are often allegories that warn of what can happen.

An allegory (Latin  "veiled language, figurative") is a form of extended metaphor. 

So a fairytale often illustrates a moral compass or warning, where a "big bad wolf" might represent an evil force... It should not surprise us then if we see powers of good and evil, live and die as though they were bit players in a fairytale.

We might write a fairytale of our own - So perhaps we might write "As White as Snow" - if we tried to describe the energy industry as being a metaphorical drug dealer in a tale of seven scenes.
  1. There was the time when energy was a luxury - Early 20th Century and prior
  2. Then it popped up out of the ground almost wherever you looked - Oil Barons
  3. Then energy became more obviously scarce - Several waves
  4. Brands arose - Everyone knows the dealers
  5. It became so much cheaper - almost everyone got hooked up
  6. Designer energy became pretty cool - NOW
  7. Then came withdrawal
If the metaphor fits, then arguably the outcome of the allegory might serve as a taste of things to come... a warning - our new BFF may actually be a wolf in sheep's clothing.

A search through allegorical fairytales about greed and addiction - will warn us that as a society addicted to a substance, that does us little good, the future may be uncomfortable.

Psychrometry WTF? #2 - Absolute Humidty

This is the second post in our 
Psychrometry wtf ! - "without the fear" series

This post is about "wetness" - which is otherwise known as humidity. Air can be bone dry. Or not.

To recap the first post Dry Bulb Temperature is summarised very simply as follows: As we move from left to right it gets hotter

Click to Enlarge
Summer = Hot = Right Side of graph
Winter = cold = left side of graph

Now onto wetness. How wet is wet air and how dry is dry air?

Suppose for every bit of air we had a bit of water - would that make it 50% wet ? - As a humidity ratio it would depend how we measured.

If we take a subject close to my heart - so close in fact that we need to show a picture... - You might imagine Simon Theakston offering you a pint of Theakstons Old Peculiar (well I did say that I would try to make this as painless as possible). 

Now that the beer has reverted back to family ownership the beer has been made more peculiar yet - it is 3.8% Alcohol By Volume

That means that if you had a swimming pool full of it, the alcohol would fill up a paddling pool of 3.8% of the volume of the swimming pool.

That would be a silly thing to do, because actually it is best to drink it.

However, another way of saying how strong the beer was would be to discuss Alcohol By Weight.  Since a volume of water weighs more than a similar volume of alcohol the ABW figure would be slightly less than the ABV value. 

However, the crazy guys who do meteorology for a living decided to measure wetness of air in terms of Water in Air By Weight.  There is a good reason for this - while water and alcohol are quite incompressible air can be squashed into a small space.  If you try squashing Beer it makes the place you put it bigger - though it happens over years:)

So how wet is air - we talk in ratios = e.g 38 grams water per 1000 grams of air  or 0.038

It is the absolute humidity ratio

If you click on the graph above you will see the horizontal blue lines are each marked with a certain wetness - with the amount increasing as you go up the chart.

So now we can think of the chart as follows (ignore all the other lines for now):


Google for images
Not Safe For Work !


The Green Button Initiative

kWIQly supports "The Green Button Initiative" as described at

and calls on utility companies globally to implement it.

Further Information is available at

Psychrometry WTF? #1 - Dry-bulb temperature

OK - we have the "terrifying" psychrometric chart in all of its' glory.

Put it out of mind right now ! (click on it for a gory detail reminder if you must)

I have promised to explain

Psychrometry wtf-without-fear series
and make it crystal clear.

I am going to do this by playing with some simple ideas about household objects.  These may also help you remember things.

We start off with the humble thermometer - these are not frightening - mothers and doctors stick them in the mouths (and elsewhere) of babies and sick people so they cannot be all that bad.

So here is a thermometer :  

As it gets hotter the red liquid expands and moves up into a vacuum from the "bulb" or reserve at the bottom.  

So the longer the red marker the hotter it is.

The bulb is important !

Generally if you stick your finger in your mouth so its wet, and then stick it in the air (no picture :) it will feel colder than if you stick it in the air while it is dry.  However, if it is raining or foggy (very humid) it does not feel colder.

So how it feels depends on how wet it is.

Normal temperatures are taken with a "dry bulb" -
i.e. stick your finger in the air (not in your mouth).

I asked a friend of mine to demonstrate - but he said he gets fed up with them - so here is someone clearly chosen entirely at random doing it for you.

So even politicians know that summer is warm and winter is cold. 

My argument is that if a politician can understand this issue you can.

All you need to know about the dry-bulb temperature and a psychrometic chart is that it gets hotter from left to right !

You can imagine the thermometer being laid on its side so the red line rises from left to right.

In this diagram you will see vertical green lines drawn from the bottom where they are marked with the dry-bulb temperature (how hot it is - rising left to right )

Click to Enlarge

A Declaration of War

Today at KWIQly we declared war. A fight to help energy managers - the front line troops in the war against Climate Change.

If WWI and WWII were nominally World Wars, then surely Climate Change, which has already killed many more, is more insidious and is already projected to last for centuries will be remembered - by those that survive.

We can measure our success by two things:
  1. each single kWhr that we help our clients save.
  2. profitable economic survival to further criteria 1.
No doubt our strategies will need to evolve, but underpinning our very clear success criteria is a simple premise.

Energy is saved through a simple iterative process:

  1. Evaluate what must be done
  2. Examine means to achieve it
  3. Deploy most effective alternative
  4. Keep vigilant for performance deviation, emergent technology and changing need
I will be posting updates to this article - but for now I can announce that our initial position in terms of support of evaluation by energy managers of "what must be done" is as follows:

Position #1

Energy managers have a globally significant role, and to evaluate what must be done they should be provided the best tools possible.

The most significant driver of variation energy consumption in society is the external weather history in conjunction with diurnal building use (e.g. opening hours).

This is due to the requirement of buildings in their primary role - to isolate us from predominant external weather conditions.

Heating and Cooling degree-days  ( HDD and CDD ) are the standard (though superficial) metric of "what must be done" for any building heating or cooling system.

For this reason kWIQly will make available to any energy manager world-wide ( from householder to enterprise facility manager ) without charge:

  • Convenient tools to administer a list of buildings of interest
  • Automated identification of suitable weather data sources
  • Acquisition of free-weather data specific to those locations
  • Automated calculations of degree-days for each site (to user stipulated parameters)
  • Simple graphical representation of the same.
  • A single-click download of this data.
graphic of weather and degree-days

The graphical representation and underlying data is available from Free degree day data

Explanation of Graphic :

The dark line represents hourly  temperatures if zoomed out as shown here for three years are averaged over time
Red columns represent heating degree-days (calculated per day - visualized as period averages)
Blue columns represent cooling degree-days (calculated per day - visualized as period averages)

Degree-Day Weather Data - Convenient and Free

Finding Heating and Cooling Degree-Day data has never been easier.  Pin buildings on a Map, we find the weather data, Free Degree-Days - click to graph, click to download.  45 seconds anywhere !

This free service is the start to a disruptive drive to make high quality energy management analysis available where it is needed - everywhere, every continent, every building.

An energy manager for a building has to measure performance. For heating and cooling the yardstick is heating degree-days ( HDD ) or cooling degree-days ( CDD ).  Comparing Fuel consumption against load determined by weather is as fundamental as comparing miles-per-gallon for car economy.

1. Locate your buildings on a map

2. Select building and set balance temperature
3. See visualisation of load vs. weather
4. Click to download

Oh and by the time you need more data, we will be offering free on-line energy management reports too ! 

As an example - Here's a test preview of automated Pattern Recognition of Opening Hours and Base Load...  The software has no idea of opening hours but deduces apparent activity from consumption patterns and weather data.

Did you ever laugh at a funeral - Here's why

Seth Godin writes a brilliant post today about our continual need for re-assurance and how it can be harmful and energy sapping. And I agree with it whole-heartedly - checking I have passport wallet and keys too many times as I leave for the airport:

How to Save Energy - When doing nothing is not an option

Doing nothing is one sure way to save energy !
This frog is as green as can be
Do Nothing ! - because when we do anything we use energy. 

It's one way to save energy, but chances are that is not the answer you are looking for. 

Certainly when people do ask us how to save energy we find that doing nothing is simply not an option.

I suppose if it were life would be far too easy :)

So to get our job done, we must make sure our clients are:  using as little as possible to do no more than absolutely necessary. And that is as good a definition of energy management as you can find.  So lets flag it up !
Energy Management Defined :
Using as little as possible to do no more than absolutely necessary.
All very well, but we need to put some flesh on the bones. In order to make things a little more real we need to look at the role of energy management. Notice that this means everyone - we all have responsibility and we should all remember it. 

Energy managers, have a key and growing role, particularly because of climate change, and economic conditions insisting we should look after the bottom-line (or household budget).

There are many tools available to assist in the greening of our society, and clean-tech and green-tech investors are certainly always looking for new and better gadgets to part us with our money to save energy. This is simply because there are huge investment opportunities. However, when it comes to buildings there are a few important ideas that aren't going to go away soon. And they should be addressed first.

So "yes" - we need to know the best ways to " green it " - and one answer is green IT, where new tools are coming into existence that can really help, but first we have to ask where is the pain point. What is it that we have to address? - If we don't focus on a problem we'll get nowhere.

Fortunately, as a first approximation to finding energy savings we can "follow the money". If we consider how buildings come into being there is a five-step process.
Five Steps to Building - a disaster :

  1. Architect  - specifies conceptual vision
  2. Building contractor - builds something that looks like it
  3. Commissioning engineers  - make it work somehow
  4. Developer sells to purchaser
  5. Energy efficiency - does not match conceptual vision
There is no secret to the fact that a lot of money flows up and down between the first four steps - and some of it is free of any hint of corruption (he wrote with tongue in cheek).

What is left is a problem - in that the actual operation of the building does not correspond to the theoretical specification (which may have won design awards, and all sorts of feel-good eco-labels in the process - Notice that eco-labelling is drawn to the money like moths to a gas-light). 

But - That is not the problem - it's the problem that the money wants you to solve ! It argues that you need to spend more getting the first four steps right. 

Follow the money !
How does it do this ?

It uses comparative benchmarking. 

One thing about comparative benchmarking is that there is always a "best of class" - allowing some industry awards dinners, and there is always a "worst of class" - justifying spending much more.

So - What is the question we should be asking ?

If we put aside the question for the moment of what the building was meant to do - which is spilt milk - we can ask a much better question.  What is it doing and what does it need to do?  That question takes us back to our original question:
Are we using as little as possible to do no more than absolutely necessary?
When you are in a hole - rule #1 "STOP DIGGING"

Notice that this question absolutely ignores how we got into the mess we are in.

But the first rule of getting out of a mess is to stop ...

So - this is how we can wrap this post up for another occasion... 

First Do Nothing ! - It won't cost much  - So we can use the time to...

  1. Take stock of the situation as it is
  2. Look at what is really necessary (not what the architect thought ten years ago)
  3. Formulate plans to move from doing what we are doing, to doing what needs to be done and then we can make sure we are doing what needs to be done for as little as possible.
  4. et voilĂ  - Energy Management
Naturally some of the detail is technical - but first we need to ask Do you love your children ? 

If you enjoyed the article please give it a nudge to pay it forwards at the bottom of the page ...

PS - Are you aware that you can get free heating and cooling degree-day data for anywhere in the world from us ?

Reduce AC costs energy, carbon & money

AC (not to be confused with alternating-current), ie air-con or air-conditioning is a very simple idea.

A simple idea, but as important as the air that we breathe.

To be comfortable inside a building, depends on what you are doing and who you are, but some good generalisations are possible.

Four things are key: temperature, humidity, air-flow and quality.

The last of these can be put to one side for the purposes of energy management in a simple sentence - maintain the filters, and know what maximum and minimum flow rates for comfort are (some systems have quality sensors, but I'm not addressing that today as I covered air quality recently in the black art of air quality , and I think there are more opinions than ants at a picnic.

Air conditioning as a phrase is usually reserved for systems that influence both humidity and temperature, whereas simple air treatment often refers to temperature only.

So lets think about replacing air in a building.

If the air that leaves is in a worse state than the air that is coming in, ventilation even without any treatment is beneficial.

So for example if you are trying to cool the building and outside air at 25.5°C (77.9°F) and the air is leaving at 28.3°C (83°F) it is doing cooling for free - so you want as much of it as possible (until extract temperatures fall). So for economy, you should ventilate as a priority over active cooling.

On the other hand, if you are heating, and outside air is below extract temperature - you obviously want move as little air as possible (and recover any heat you can from what is leaving if you have heat wheels, run-around coils or cross-over plates).

The above statements are not strictly true - if you have the ability to detect enthalpy, it can be that cool wet air contains more energy than warmer wetter air.  However, if you are using enthalpy control, it is important to be aware of the need to maintain humidity sensors (which are vulnerable to deterioration).

Free cooling is where you vent an unoccupied building at night when electricity may be cheaper and the cooling effect is greater, to mitigate a need to actively cool later.  Given good weather forecasts (kWIQly can provide to anywhere on the planet), it can be worth actively cooling at night as cooling plant is more efficient - especially if you have cool storage - an ice store or similar. For monitoring performance good weather histories are essential - refer ventilation rates and degree-days.

Humidity control usually involves drying by cooling to below the dew point - the temperature given air conditions where moisture condenses on a cool surface (think glass of beer :), or humidifying using steam pack or similar.

Evaporative cooling is achieve by letting air evaporate from a pool - this increases relative humidity, so is both most effective and beneficial in dry climates.  When viable it is much less energy intense than steam production to humidify or conventional compressor based cooling.

To save money - now is the time to do air conditioning repair maintenance (when AC repairs are cheapest ! )

Building Energy Management Systems Snakeoil

Either you are sick of hearing them by now or you are very, very, new to this game.
If the latter - good luck and get used to it - if the former, then lets start to get over it ! 

What ?  I imagine you asking (rhetorically) so I answer - the following hopelessly hollow phrases..
  • Let's put the 'e' back into bms.
  • You can't manage what you can't measure.
  • Every building is different.
  • The cheapest kW is the one you never spend
  • Smart-XYZ
  • Self-Adaptive Learning Algorithm
  • Auto-tuning
  • Self-commissioning
You know why ? - because every building control system is inherently the same. And that is a huge problem for the people who make them and sell them.  

Commodities they are, and the only differentiators are prices (which are falling), likelihood of going out of business (as many manufacturers do at alarming frequency), and the deliberate incompatibilities that are put in as booby-traps to snare the less knowledgeable buyer (think Internet Explorer iPhones and pretty much every closed protocol device)

So whether they are referred to as unitary controllers, nodes, programmable logic controllers, embedded supervisors, SCADA, etc etc  it really doesn't matter - they are the same.

In essence they can take inputs in, process them according to some algorithm, put responses out and to be really esoteric they can communicate via "man-machine interfaces" aka screen/keyboard and via TCP/IP and a bunch of other protocols (unless you really buy a pooch).  Beyond this they may have bits of network topology, data storage, protocol converters (why needed), routers and etc.

What did I just describe - well a smartphone can do all of that for under 99$ , so can arduino open source hardware and it costs peanuts in comparison with the black boxes sold by the controls industry, so can any computer.  So the hardware is a sham.

What about analog sensors, (the phone has them and they cost virtually nothing), relays (oh yes every button on a keypad is a digital input).  

No, in reality there is nothing to distinguish them from a hardware perspective.  And remember just because a sensor can feed a 16-bit value along a comms network, if it is a thermometer it will tell you a very very precise temperature +/- a huge commissioning and field wiring error.

So if the hardware is the same, then the software must be different - nope.

Ladder Logic Diagram
Sure how you tell it what to do may be represented in a different "language" or via a different programming "paradigm", but what it does is it converts analog values into digital values and back again (ADC and DAC convertors), and in the middle bit it's all digital, so it does everything on the basis of sets of AND and OR gates (which many years ago was represented as "ladder logic" which was a visual analogy of a wiring circuit that related relays (digital states).

So where is the difference.  Well sales technique counts for a lot (especially to the non-technical buyer), and then there are big words and euphemisms.  So for example a BEMS is a euphemism for a BMS (a euphemy is simply the opposite of blasphemy - it literally means "speaking well")

Beyond sales technique there are the human skills of what to tell the computer (that's what it is) to do.  And here there IS an enormous difference.  You can either buy a set of pre-programmed modules off-the-shelf, or you can get someone to programme the "computer", that actually understand what boilers and air-handlers do.  No they aren'tt light switches, boilers pre and post-purge, and no a PID is not a suitable solution for controlling a non-proportional response.

My tip to the energy manager,  take the controls salesman into your plant room and ask him to explain what a sedimentation vessel achieves between primary and secondary circuits beyond the obvious  (hint : hydraulic de-coupling of pumped circuits) .  If he (or she) can't, then get someone who can - most local HVAC contractors can put someone in the frame to do the job.

And if your control system has to be configured by an "in-house expert" apply the same test and then say no - It is an artifical differentiator to suggest exclusivity and sucker byers with higher prices - that game went out of style a decade ago.  the big-boys just have'nt all figured it yet.

Correction - some have - they call you cash cows - go and be assertive or go and be milked dry - the choice is yours !

If you think this article might help anyone or make them smile wryly - please do share it - and if you disagree and want to argue - I make mistakes - that's what the comments are for !

Why not also see what can do for you ? - we don't sell or recommend controls systems - because it's all the same to you!

PS - Are you aware that you can get free heating and cooling degree-day data for anywhere in the world from us ?

Lean Energy Management Project Startups

Why Lean Energy Project Management  Startups ? 

- isn't it just a string of buzzwords ?

In this post we will explore some ideas from the business startup field (the word startup seems to have been adopted -  will not resist), which have great merit, and go further to see how they apply in an energy management context. 

This is appropriate because I believe an energy Manager necessarily has a little entrepreneurial spirit -  they have to change the ways that things are done, or in management speak - disrupt. Secondly project pitching & resourcing is lifeblood to any energy conservation initiative and if a project runs out of cash it flounders, and it is better to retire hurt than to drown.

In the entrepreneurial environment in recent months much has been made of  lean startup ideas  as described by Eric Ries, and more recently Seth Godin has made an observation that any project needs to be support declaring victory or risk an ill defined vagueness that does not deserve the title "project".

These ideas are extremely generic and much can be learned from them in other fields, but let's take a look at what we mean by "lean" and how it applies to Energy Management (beyond the obvious).

The idea of a lean business startup is one can get off the ground for minimum overhead, keeping risks (loss of control, direction, cash and credibility) to a minimum "burn rate".  Only once "off the ground", do issues like scaling, marketing, and funding come to bear.

So there we had it -  the obvious  "burn-rate"; but when talking about energy management I am not referring to burning less fuel, but to the process of managing projects that are perceived as "alternative", "non-core" or simply "damn risky." 

Since some readers of this may not be energy managers, let's first characterise the world of the energy manager. If you are doing anything at all you are using energy. the word energy is derived from activity in Ancient Greek.  There is no avoiding it. Here are five points that relate to startup issues and not in a positive way.

1) Non-core business

Most people spend their lives focussing on something other than the energy they use.  Automatic trading systems in banks buy and sell $billions for the cost of a few cents worth of energy. The energy cost of manufacturing most products remains small (though it is rising), so the energy used by a sweetshop, is rather secondary to the objective of stopping children from stealing candy, while relieving them of their pocket money.  This means that energy comes as an always essential overhead, but usually at the end of a list of other concerns. 

2) Who cares ?

The implications is that by throwing a light switch, the lowest of underpaid workers has authority to spend corporate cash on energy.  Typically the same authority as the chairman! 

3) If it ain't broke don't fix it 

Energy management enters a new paradigm (sorry horribly over-used term but accurate here).
What worked adequately but inefficiently prior to An Inconvenient Truth has now been declared broken. And there is the word "declared" - we will come back to that. But while "broken" it still works !

4) No budget line 

Since energy management is new (well new if we ignore that cave men probably practised it diligently).  The process of funding energy management projects is fraught with nonsense.

How many people would invest in a safe as houses stock that guaranteed a 50% return on investment - very few - they just would not believe it.  However, the investment criteria for energy conservation tends to run between one and three years (call it a 50% return). It seems you cannot give it away !

5) No Team 

Most companies do not have a bunch of workers standing by to pick up a new project. This creates a huge "risk" perspective from a corporate perspective.  Usually energy projects involve temporary outsourcing or redeployment of staff (who maybe responsible for keeping the boilers stoked - so to speak).

The worst of all possible worlds !

So to all you investors and VC's out there - how would you pitch an extremely scalable clean-tech project in-house with those responses to your investment criteria  - not a "fit" ?

No Team, No funds, No market, No pain, and No track record - Well you wouldn't would you ?

However, if we look at the market that can exist once barriers come down it is a monster in terms of revenue, but most energy management projects also don't scale.  They are one-building-at-a-time.

The conclusions are obvious.

The energy manager must be  founder of a startup "project"  that has little choice but to "bootstrap" - (to energy management readers "get off the ground with no investment").

As such the theory of lean startups applies strongly.  Moreover, the ability to declare a successful project or "show traction" is utterly critical to the energy manager.

So what are the key lessons for the energy manager ?

1) Proof of concept

Your project must be plausible - and so pilots and case studies will help. But to be useful they need to be very clearly documented successes.  This means metrics - How has performance changed?  In essence a pilot study for energy management should be a low cost proof of a hypothesis - which should be stated up front. To complete a pilot, it will need to be "declarable" and you move on or you drop it.

Your pilot hypothesis does not need to be in-house - you can rely on "social proof" to be sure a technology works.  Read the blogs and make the pros-cons arguments for yourself.

2) Getting over the chasm

Generally, returns on energy management projects are negative or substantial, simply because they are not trialled otherwise.  So "getting to revenue" should be everything.  Once you show payback (if not you need a new job) , ideally you can re-invest it.  This should be negotiated up-front with your "funding environment".  Get the authority to roll out the bigger projects on the basis of a success criteria, it is so much harder to tie down a deal on something that works after the event - because everyone wants a piece.  You could think of this as your intellectual property (ownership of the project) - you don't want to "dilute" your ownership until it is declared a success with you as a founder at the helm.

3) Minimum Viable Product

As an energy manager, you want to keep you investments (time, credibility money if you have some) low until you show returns.  This means you want to show returns as soon as possible.
The easiest way of doing this may be as follows:

  1. Set up some good metering (high resolution off-site weather data - maybe from kWIQly :) 
  2. Disrupt a process that you believe is unnecessary systematically (a good example is to lower hot water flow temperatures in a zone with much harsher compensation or better yet control boilers on return temperature - if you aren't already !)
  3. Record complaints ! - diligently 
  4. Rinse and repeat for a week - or maybe a month
  5. Get weather corrected corroboration that is saved energy (kWIQly again!) - a proof of savings  report takes seconds to generate).
  6. Either you are making savings or not !
  7. Poor long beer - enjoy

Note : If you can back up the savings claim with a well-documented case study (including the "no impact on comfort statistics"), then Bang the drum - ie go to your fundraisers.  They should be expecting your call - because you have set expectations

If not - declare it (at least internally) and move onto another project - if you are an energy manager there are hundreds available - because nobody is seeing the opportunities you do !

Energy Management - The Fundamental Problem

Energy management is a fundamental problem at many levels for society, as we have to live somewhere, and "somewhere to live" is a fundamental human need, but what relates the problem and need ?

"Somewhere to live means" buildings, but also means an environment. Homes and offices, schools and hospitals all keep the weather out.  Since we do work (Ancient. Gkenergos)  precisely to keep the environment out  it is hardly surprising that this hurts the environment !
Note:  buildings consume 40-45% of all human serving energy

Tensions grow more heated as they become more personal - so I'm afraid we are going to get personal - lets move on (yes it's horrible).

Parents generally love their children, and so do Russians as Sting hoped with chilling irony during the Cold War.

It's a safe generalization, we know what we want "here and now"

but we can only guess at what our children will need "there and then"

Since we don't even know what they will have to tolerate - or whether they will be able to, and we may not be here to worry about it we overlook it - Here's how ...(Is that is enough to make you feel uncomfortable before we really begin? - sorry)

So parents have problems with our value systems of "now and then" ; there is a word for deferred gratification and how humans handle it  Hyperbolic discounting and it isn't rational - because we aren't - a brief look at climate change politics makes that clear.

We also measure personal success in black and white terms - I makes money / I loses money. And clearly businesses measure success in terms of money.

Therefore, naturally there is a push for investment in "Cleantech" - not because survival matters , but perhaps because life or death of everyone is a really exciting monetary proposition;  am I being cynical or should we hedge our bets ?

However, investing in a market you do not understand and cannot measure is risky - it is not so obvious how or whether we can actually measure energy management success (in so far as it applies to the individual and our children).

Consider the position of an energy manager - rather than making money, his or her first success metrics are a dynamic combination of:

Energy Purchases not price sensitive because of automation
Very Low Demand Elasticity
Controls are not market sensitive
  1. Comfort and discomfort (non-linear, highly subjective, volatile)
  2. Weather response (entirely arbitrary, external, unpredictable, demand driver)
  3. Carbon emissions (not linear to energy use or efficiency, fuel-type dependent, political and legislative constraints)
  4. Energy (usual metric for savings, but not linear to any other success criteria)
  5. Money ( consumption is automated this results in zero elasticity of demand - in short term markets)
This means we business and consumers alike are price takers - our building controls make us perfect hyperbolic discounters of money - because we value comfort !

In other words, our behaviour is fully consistent with children who cannot defer gratification, addicts and people who really care nothing for their future or that of their children.

So, having considered that the energy manager does not even have a single success criteria (hardly surprising that everyone loves to hate the building services engineer) , let us consider  the most bizarre fact of all.  

A great novelty in this massive Cleantech market is Smart-whatever. We have smart-grid, smart-meters, smart-buildings, and even (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology - which is fairly uninspiring;).

None of these "Smart" devices actually share a common yardstick or success criteria, they do not interact by a common protocol (other than IP ) and they do not share objectives!

To be clear, not only do they not share pricing objectives, but they so not share any other single common measure.  

So we will look at these "success" markets in terms of the money market, because it is the most familiar, but do not forget that there is an equally valid demand for heat and supply of clothing (and these are no less arbitrary measurement units if the primary role of a building is  comfort "at any cost")

A corollary of this is that in the large (there are minor exceptions) - energy demand does not respond  at all to energy pricing in the short term. That's right, if the spot market price of energy double, the rate of consumption does not waver. 

However the supply side market does - because they are free to speculate !

This is my claim all short - term energy trading volume statistics are determined purely demand side, whereas all market price movements are made by the supply side.

How  can we be sure of this :

If the weather gets cold (all other things being equal), thermostats and building control systems turn on and create heat demand - thermostats are unaware of price (though they do have meta control-systems that react to long term market trends - i.e. people) so in the medium term marginal demand is unaware of price  (this defines price in-elasticity).  If human heating preferences change in response to price 1% per annum (they do not) we can be sure of our assumption.

However heat can be conveniently stored extremely efficiently as gas or wood or as heat ( I am thinking heat pumps here).  

Now the extra-ordinary thing.  The instantaneous market need for heat in buildings is always zero !

This sounds like a crazy statement, but if on a winters day you go into the average 5* hotel, palace, or a stock-brokers skyscraper and turn off the boilers, no-one will notice for a few hours.  I have done it !

Eventually they will notice (if it really is winter - but not so much otherwise - One 5 star hotel I know of in the UK in November risked having no heating facilities for three days - the engineer did not mention this to the GM because he wanted the refit to go ahead ).  In most buildings, particularly larger ones cooling will take a period of hours rather than minutes (and not the micro-seconds of market trading opportunity).

Note to Keith - You know who you are - a real engineer !

There is therefore exploitable market potential in deferring heat, and if heating is deferred less is used !

Why? - if you defer heating, when supply is resumed the load is greater and with greater load, efficiency is higher.

As a result, there are numerous Gizmos that disable boilers or delay firing, and they do save money - they simply do not save as much as a properly configured control system.

Finally, these flaws in the market (for success - however it is measured) can be identified by watching energy consumption data and weather. 

All "market" anomalies have distinctive profiles that can be recognized - this leads to sophisticated or simple improvements - like "hey it's Sunday, New Years Day and your chiller compressors are running" - as we saw in a number of client buildings !

Both data sources should be acquired independently from the system that controls the building (just as you don't let a child take his own temperature - there is no knowing where he might stick the thermostat to get a day off school - buildings sensors are equally untrustworthy!).

A convenient place to bring them together is in the cloud, where independent and objective analysis can be conducted scalably, remotely and non-intrusively.  

All we need to do now as a society,is to agree when we should do what - or whether we actually do love our children - The choice is ours - lets make it ! 

PS Why do we call a thing that knows nothing of prices, our comfort, carbon or consumption a building control system ?

PPS - And why are we renaming them to Smart Buildings and data-logging facilities to Smart Meters ?