Using Big Data for Operations & Energy Management In Higher Learning
By Tony Erickson
EVP, Services and Operations
Depending on the size of your university or other institution of higher learning, managing operations and energy management is an exceedingly complex task. Energy management in higher learning is essential as governing boards have advocated for increased transparency and accountability in energy use. Moreover, environmentally friendly energy management in higher learning is critical to improving student retention, attracting new students and securing public funding. Education Facilities Managers should consider using big data for operations in energy management to ensure success.
Common Problems Associated With Energy Management in Higher Education
Energy management in higher education comes with unique challenges. Campuses may be located apart from one another, in isolated areas or within buildings otherwise used for commercial purposes. Since the success of energy management in higher learning institutions depends on the ability to track and manage energy use, the placement of buildings represents one of the top challenges. In addition, institutions may not have the financial and labor resources necessary to facilitate changes in energy use, but they can encourage energy conservation among students, faculty and facility management personnel. Unfortunately, failure to implement and use big data to track an energy management program leads to the inability to verify savings, not to mention poor visibility into energy use and costs.
Application of Big Data in Energy Management in Higher Learning Maximizes Savings Potential
The use of big data in operations in energy management is a grand opportunity for institutions of higher learning. Grades, credit hours, rates of participation, work schedules, occupancy rates, system runtime, and other factors contribute to a massive volume of data generated by the smallest of campuses, reports Ed Tech magazine. Colleges and universities can leverage the power of big data to mine energy use and student actions, to determine correlations between energy use and activity. This provides a pathway toward reducing energy use by encouraging students to make decisions that conserve energy.
Additional applications of big data in energy management in higher education include securing eligibility for grants and other funding sources, appealing to an eco-conscious student that may be considering transferring or attending your institution and measuring student success and happiness.
Best Practices for Using Big Data in Energy Management
As explained by Information Age, higher education institutions lack the resources necessary to mine the volume of data manually. Paired with public data, higher education Facilities Managers can use analytics and machine learning to glean new insights into energy use. Those that want to take advantage of data-based energy management should follow these tips:
- Know your assets, including those enabling online, distance education.
- Recomission assets if possible with smart, IoT-enabled sensors and sub-load meters.
- Collect data automatically.
- Validate data integrity and savings’ potential.
- Use analytics to understand assets’ impact on energy use.
- Reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) associated with assets.
- Take advantage of an On-Site Energy Specialist.