Data: The Key to Making Buildings More Efficient

by Christine Rüth
Aug 18, 2016 9:35 AM ET

New digital services that combine all the data sources connected with buildings are opening the door to enhanced transparency and optimized energy use.

Siemens has integrated its range of energy management products and services into Sinalytics, its new company-wide brand for data-driven services. This integration is opening the way to more sophisticated data analyses and to measures derived from them that can make building operation even more efficient.

“Navigator powered by Sinalytics” is a cloud-based platform operated by Siemens for managing the energy use of buildings with the help of smart data. The platform gathers data about the use of electricity, heating, air conditioning, and water, as well as data from associated valves and sensors.

Total Transparency
This information can be accessed in various ways, for example through a building’s automation system or directly from meters via data loggers. Energy use and associated measurement  data are combined with additional information, including the prices of consumables such as electricity, water, gas, and oil, as well as weather data so that savings can be monitored. The resulting data are used by various energy efficiency services, which are available to customers.

The Navigator’s range of offerings includes traditional services such as energy data management – in other words, the collection and evaluation of energy use data – as well as energy use monitoring and concepts for finding out which measurements and energy meters can optimally determine the customer’s energy use. Navigator also offers a series of new services. For example, it is making it possible for Siemens energy engineers  to conduct energy flow analyses that show how energy use and generation, by cogeneration plants for example, are distributed throughout a complex of buildings.

Data That Can Be Applied to Energy Performance
These analyses are the first to provide comprehensive transparency concerning a building’s energy use. They help to identify devices that consume a great deal of energy, and they also reveal gaps in monitoring systems. Another new feature is Navigator’s reporting function, which for example, makes it possible to present performance indicators such as the energy use per occupied bed in a hospital. Such analyses can be directly integrated into the customers’ reporting systems.  Siemens now also offers consultation services for optimizing energy procurement and network charges and for acquiring ISO 50001 certification.

The overall result of such services is a pool of basic data that can be used to derive measures for building optimization, such as adjustments to an air conditioning system.  The data can also be applied to energy performance contracts to, for example, make a capital investment in a new boiler. In such a case, Siemens would finance the investment and amortize the costs via the energy savings. Navigator could also enable suggestions regarding energy procurement or the optimization of a building’s operations with regard to network charges – for example, through cost-efficient shifting of power loads.

On the Horizon: Automated Benchmarking
Another one of Navigator’s possible future applications is condition monitoring through the analysis of the connections between energy consumption and related equipment functions. More comprehensive reporting, analyses, and visualization options will generate more detailed knowledge for the efficient monitoring of building system performance, energy needs, and energy provision. It will also be possible to forecast energy demand, and generate a comparison of such forecasts with actual measured data, thus potentially identifying malfunctions. In the future, automatic benchmarking – that is, the comparison of similarly designed building complexes – will also help to optimize building operation.

For years now, Siemens has been offering data-based solutions such as remote monitoring, data analytics, inventory optimization, and process optimization. Sinalytics combines these technologies with the latest developments in data analytics, connectivity, and cyber security. Today about 300,000 systems, including wind turbines, trains, and industrial equipment, are networked by means of Sinalytics.