Did your building celebrate Thanksgiving?

Buying Thanksgiving Turkey by Flickr user The Library of Congress

Analyzing your building’s baseload over holidays like Thanksgiving can help you spot costly--and easily avoidable--errors in energy management.

Now that Thanksgiving has deliciously come and gone, it’s time to ask yourself a few valuable questions. Did your building, like you, your employees, and tenants, actually take the day off? Is your building all set for the next batch of holidays? Thankfully, energy management tools like Gridium’s software can reveal whether or not your building took time off on Thanksgiving or whether it heated and cooled unoccupied space. And reviewing your building’s equipment scheduling after Thanksgiving can confirm whether or not you’re all set for upcoming winter holidays.

Checking on a building’s performance from Thanksgiving might seem like an overly simple idea. Though it sounds obvious, many experienced building operators will know that even simple things like holiday schedules can slip off of the radar when tenant improvements, new construction, move-ins, and hot/cold calls take so much attention. Furthermore, small control programming changes, sequence resets, manual overrides, and equipment failures can combine to push buildings away from optimal performance. This threat of performance degradation–often referred to as drift–lives on in a building’s load curve, like a zombie from a George Romero film. Keeping drift, and holiday use, in check requires relentless oversight.

Gridium building teams using Snapmeter are automatically alerted with Monday morning emails if their building wastes energy over a holiday. And excessive holiday energy use happens with enough regularity that even experienced operators will benefit from triple checking their systems. For example, a building within a large campus in Silicon Valley not only ran at full steam over the 4th of July, it set its peak demand charge for the billing period on the holiday! A similar story repeated itself within a portfolio of buildings in Orange County over Thanksgiving.

Snapmeter revealed that one of the portfolio’s buildings used 2,234 kWh on Thanksgiving, but achieved its typical weekend daily baseload use of ~1,000 kWh on the following Saturday and Sunday:

Thanksgiving day energy use graphed by Snapmeter

Meanwhile, Snapmeter shows a neighboring building in this portfolio was able to fully shut down on Thanksgiving, reaching its average weekend daily baseload use of ~3,900 kWh:

This building reached its baseload on Thanksgiving

The customer was immediately alerted to these issues and has ample time to check holiday schedules before the winter break.

These examples should be good reminders to check your building’s systems before they spend another unoccupied holiday hard at work. And please let us know if you have questions about how Snapmeter translates interval data–as previewed above–into automated alerts and insights.

About Millen Paschich

Millen began his career at Cambridge Associates, trained in finance at SMU, and has an MBA from UCLA. Talk to him about bicycling, business, and green chile burritos.

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