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Costs Savings and Innovation Revealed Using Big Data

Monday June 1, 2015
By: Phoenix Energy Technologies

Published by Green Retail Decisions, Michael McMahon, VP of Phoenix Energy Technologies, describes how a national movie theater chain saves $20,000-plus in monthly energy costs making savvy use of ticket sales and occupancy data.

The power of big data is buzzing louder than ever in the energy industry with a focus on topics such as the importance of big data, how to collect big data, and how this information can reduce energy costs. These topics are all very valuable, but what happens after you have quality data? What do you do with the data that is supposed to help reduce your energy costs? How do you innovate with big data to set your company apart from competitors and get recognized as a leader in energy efficiency initiatives?

There are various streams of data flowing into an enterprise energy management (EEM) system. Most will have some, if not all, of the following data points flowing –energy usage, weather data, occupancy, point-of-sale, billing, budget, and mechanical equipment nameplate data. While there is an immense amount of valuable data flowing, it’s what you do with the data that matters. 

An example of this information flow and how companies can innovate with big data is illustrated through a program Phoenix Energy Technologies designed for a national movie theater chain.

Building Management Technologies Guide
The chain wanted to save energy by adjusting its HVAC schedule and auditorium set points based on ticket sales and occupancy. Most theaters use a default HVAC schedule that is pre-set to a specific time frame, at a specific temperature, regardless of occupancy, seven days a week. Manually adjusting the schedules according to each auditorium’s occupancy was unrealistic because it is extremely costly and inefficient, but it was the only option available at the time.

Take, for example, an auditorium intended to accommodate 300 people that by default has the temperature set to 68 degrees. If only three people are in the auditorium, the temperature will remain at 68 degrees, and those three people are probably uncomfortable and freezing as they watch the movie.

Since shows begin at different times for different auditoriums, delaying HVAC start-up based on movie start times allows the units to remain in unoccupied mode longer. Also, auditoriums sit empty or virtually empty sometimes. By raising set points by a few degrees based on the percentage of tickets sold per show, energy consumption can decrease during peak hours, enhancing customer comfort.

PhoenixET designed a two-way control of the setpoints and schedules for individual auditoriums. This was done based on the occupancy through the customer’s point-of-sale data feed that updated every 15 minutes. All changes made to the schedules and set points were executed automatically, in real time, and at the controller level without any manual system modifications.

Guide to Building Management Technologies

The point-of-sale driven, automatic BAS schedule editing system uses the information to calculate occupancy of all of the individual auditoriums in the customer’s portfolio in real time. Instead of air conditioning the theaters according to a default schedule, the system automatically adjusts the schedules of the HVAC and lighting to correspond with the actual number of tickets sold for each performance. The system not only sets the run-time schedules, but also resets the interior zone set points of the auditorium.

Delaying HVAC start-up based on daily start times, and manipulating set points based on the percentage of tickets sold per show, brought measurable results and value. It decreased monthly and annual peak hour consumption by 171,014 kWh and 2,052,167 kWh, respectively. This correlates to a monthly savings of $20,180 and an annual cost reduction of $242,156. In addition to cost avoidance, reduced run times resulted in less wear and tear on HVAC equipment and also increased comfort for the auditorium occupants.

With quality data and the desire to innovate, the benefits from big data are endless, but data itself isn’t useful until it’s turned into actionable information.


Posts in this series

Top 3 Benefits of Benchmarking for Facilities Management
4 Common Myths of Energy Conservation in Building Management
What Facility Managers Need To Know About Smart Buildings
Are You Managing Your Energy Spend?


Green Retail Decisions: Costs Savings and Innovation Revealed Using Big Data