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Integrate IT, Building Management and Industrial Systems

By Mark Davidson

The only way to guarantee that energy in an enterprise is utilized as efficiently as possible is to monitor, measure and control not only the IT infrastructure, but also the building-management systems and industrial controls.

Can you as a facility manager or building operator handle integrating varied systems?
Facility managers are being faced with a new set of energy-related challenges and without the necessary visibility into their energy consumption, they’re struggling to make effective decisions about the overall energy use and efficiency of their buildings.

According to the Department of Energy, in the United States alone, commercial buildings consume 70 percent of all electricity.[i] How devices, equipment and systems are being used and managed on the inside of a corporate facility has as much an effect on energy consumption as building design.

The only way to guarantee that energy in an enterprise is utilized as efficiently as possible is to monitor, measure and control not only the IT infrastructure, but also the building-management systems and industrial controls.

Physical Boundaries Give Way to Borderless Networks and Devices

Building-management systems have conducted most enterprise energy management over the past several decades. But just as technological advances have made the physical office worker more virtual, physical boundaries such as buildings and campus locations are giving way to borderless IT networks and a broader community of business devices. This can be a challenge for facilities departments tasked with managing and reducing the rising costs and demand for energy across the enterprise. After all, if you can’t see the energy being consumed by various IT devices, equipment and systems throughout the enterprise, how can you lower it?

Power-per-square-foot or power-per-user calculations have set the standard for determining how much energy a building’s IT equipment consumes. But what if you could see actual energy consumption, utilization, cost and carbon emissions for every device that is plugged into your network? New solutions for enterprise energy management are making this possible, and delivering dramatic cost savings—up to 30% of the total energy lot.

New Solutions Provide a Global View of Energy Consumption

Previously, solutions to manage energy consumption and utilization at the IT-device level have been cost prohibitive, inadequate and difficult to implement. Today this is changing for the better. With technology available now, enterprises can transition their energy-management approach from “always on” to “available when needed” without impeding employee and business productivity or service level agreements (SLAs). The results of this shift include significant cost savings, reductions in carbon emissions, and increased visibility into energy consumption that can aid in capacity planning, policy decisions and more.

New enterprise energy-management solutions are providing a consolidated energy utilization dashboard for every network-connected device in the enterprise (both IP- and non-IP-enabled). This delivers unprecedented “global” visibility into the energy consumption and utilization of every device, system and facilities asset connected to the network, including:

  • Campus IT: PCs, MACs, VoIP Phones, access points, copiers, printers, physical and virtual servers, routers, switches, storage etc.
  • Buildings: HVAC, lighting, plug load, smart meters, LEEDS, etc.
  • Industrial: Process controls, automation, manufacturing, etc.


Three Key Features Drive True Enterprise Energy Management

With a number of solutions emerging in the marketplace, it can be daunting to try to choose the best energy option for the entire enterprise. The best solution should be a flexible, quick-to-implement, and easy-to-use platform that provides not only visibility and monitoring, but also smart automated control of the entire enterprise.

However, there are three key features that facility managers should look for:

A “single pane of glass” that provides visibility into energy use across the organization down to a point or device level – The ability to monitor, analyze and control all the enterprise’s energy from a central platform provides freedom from having to use different energy-management solutions for IT plug load, HVAC, lighting and other systems.

A control plane for reducing energy – The ability to power resources up or down as they are needed is vital to reducing energy consumption. Facility managers can monitor and ensure reliable availability of energy to maintain productivity, but also make certain that devices, equipment and systems are only using energy when it is needed.

Comprehensive reporting for energy consumption, amount of energy saved, energy cost savings, and carbon-emissions savings – A complete picture of how all the systems integrate together will improve a facility’s ability to efficiently manage its overall energy. This type of platform provides the ability to access the metrics and analytics for all the integrated systems in one common, but comprehensive reporting format, allowing more ease in making decisions about the efficient use of energy.

Team Up to Bring Down Energy Use

When it comes to implementing enterprise energy management, the facilities and IT groups must collaborate. Both departments strive to deliver a reliable and stable service to the rest of the enterprise, but the energy concerns of each department vary slightly. Facilities strives for efficiency, keeping costs down while meeting the company’s power needs. The IT department supports and extends computing capabilities for the company while also maintaining SLAs. In general, facilities values efficiency, and IT values availability.

Because energy-management solutions run on the network, facilities may see it as an IT product. Because the facilities department realizes the budgetary relief of energy management, IT may view it as a facilities product. These focus areas, however, should not be mutually exclusive when it comes to energy management. From building-management devices (HVAC and lighting) on the facilities side and computing devices (PCs, monitors, switches, routers, servers, VoIP phones, and printers) on the IT side, enterprise energy management spans the entire organization.

The most successful enterprise energy management implementations receive support from both the facilities and IT departments—regardless of which one initiates the project. Ensuring there is enough capacity to meet the demands of the IT organization for years to come is an effort that must be undertaken by both departments―as a team. Because managing energy efficiency is critical to IT’s ability to maintain service-level agreements, as well as facilities’ ability to plan for and deliver sufficient power to the enterprise as a whole, neither department can afford to pass up the opportunity to collaborate in the implementation of an enterprise energy solution.

Mark Davidson is Sustainability Officer, JouleX

[i] U.S. Department of Energy, “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – Building Technologies Program,” DOE/GO-102010-3055, May 2010.