19 May 2016 | Adam Leach
Not long ago, the idea of a business energy management system wouldn't stretch that far beyond a reminder to staff to turn off the lights.
Today, it's an altogether different set of circumstances and technologies. With the continued development and dominance of software taking on the duties traditionally done by people, together with the rise of big data, cloud computing, and automation, the sophistication and involvement of the BEMS in managing the built environment has increased exponentially.
For evidence, look no further than the recent announcement from industrial heavyweights IBM and Siemens that they are to partner on delivering a next-generation solution that takes advantage of all the technological advances. Through the partnership, Siemens' market leading Navigator platform, offering real-time monitoring and auditing of energy use, will be married up with IBM's Watson IoT Business Unit to enable everything from air conditioning to kettles to be measured, monitored and managed in pursuit of ever-greater efficiency.
With equally grand ambitions, but no profit incentive, opensource support body the Linux Foundation has announced it is building The Civil Infrastructure Platform (CIP), which it believes will rival commercial packages.
But it is not just enterprise level solutions evolving in the energy market. The purchase of smart-thermostat maker Nest by Google highlighted just how far sensors and detection hardware have come. Offering small business owners the opportunity to monitor and manage energy use on the go, the off-the-shelf solution opens up previously out-of-reach control to those for whom a comprehensive solution would be unfeasible, while more and more suppliers are including smart meters as part of their service.
As for what has prompted the advance, both the gathering of data and its analysis has become a process easily carried out on a phone rather than a supercomputer.
This opens up an eye-watering opportunity.
Research from Markets & Markets puts the BEM market size at just shy of $60 billion by 2020. An impressive figure in isolation, made all the more material by the estimated $2 trillion in savings expected to be delivered by 2030 through improved efficiency.
From building a better business case for rooftop solar or improved insulation, to evidencing improved efficiency internally, the new advent of systems offers FMs the chance to back up their purported value with proof and instigate changes that save money while preserving productivity.