Coming soon: More energy case summaries

Early in my career, I discovered that what I learned in the Air Force about planes also applies to buildings. To fly a plane, a pilot must have actual real-time data presented in a clear and easy-to-understand format, via cockpit gauges. This same truth applies to buildings: No matter how sophisticated the facility and energy systems, the operators – not the energy audits, benchmarking, capital improvements and computer models – are the difference between success and failure. Without real-time data and software with sophisticated analytics, there is no way to operate energy systems at peak efficiency under all conditions.

In 2016, well into the Information Age, nearly every society, business, institution, machine, device and person in the modern world is continuously connected, sharing huge quantities of information and filling up massive servers. The energy establishment however, is still relying on the energy audit and other antiquated methods of collecting spot data and “estimating” energy use and savings that haven’t changed since the mid-1970s.

For more than 40 years, I have tried every way I could think of to share what I have learned with others and change the energy establishment. My most recent effort is my book “Unleash the Power of Cloud-Based Energy Monitoring in Your Facility.” It was published in January and is available as a free download at http://www.holmesautopilot.com/resources/energy-monitoring-book/

The reality of the situation is, however, that even in 2016, a lot of people, utility companies, government programs, energy auditing and other training and certification programs are making a lot of money by perpetuating 40 year-old methods. Trying to change the energy establishment is analogous to trying to turn the Exxon Valdez oil tanker by dragging a 400-page energy audit along one side. The players don’t want to change; many would lose much (if not all) of their income. They are selfishly putting their interests ahead of their clients' and communities' interests as well as global interests.

Years ago I predicted that we wouldn’t see change until the kids who grew up with computers and understood the value of information got to positions of authority. Well, they have grown up and are in positions of authority. And not only are they not questioning the value of information like many of the old guard, but also they are demanding information access. It’s really encouraging to see the change. It’s hard to pick up an industrial journal without finding an article on the need for information, as provided via real-time monitoring and fault detection tools and processes.

What else can I do to help? While members of this new generation have a better education and know much more about of all the latest technology than I do, the one thing they don’t have and can’t acquire quickly is experience. That, I have – more than 40 years in the field working with the energy systems and, of more importance, with the people who design, install, operate, and maintain those systems. Fortunately, I still remember a lot of details of most of my projects.

I have published or presented a number of case studies and have several more to write. When I was new to the profession, I found speakers and articles based on actual, real-world experience to be the most enjoyable and informative. I still do. I always learn something.

I want to try to pass along as many of my real-world experiences in the energy profession as I can, so I'm launching a series of case summaries, which will be shorter than full case studies. For projects where more-detailed case studies have been published, I'll provide links to those studies. Hopefully, I'll also entertain you a little along the way.