Monthly Archives

November 2016

It’s only 2 degrees, what difference can that make?

By | Case Studies, Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, IoT, Visibility Stories | No Comments

Case Study: Adjusting the set-points reduced the HVAC run time by 20%

Energy Star states commercial buildings can trim their air conditioning cost by 12-15% just by raising their room temperature 3˚ during the summer. But how do you really know if you are saving money?

Our Client Success Managers review each site and all the equipment at the site. During a recent analysis, Joe noticed the kitchen compressor was running extremely long. Therefore, he suggested raising the temperature 2˚ to see if they could cut energy costs while keeping the kitchen at a comfortable temperature for staff.

This simple analysis cut the compressor usage by 20%, cutting compressor run time by almost 3 hours a day. While that does not seem like a lot, take a look at the graphs. Besides energy, this will reduce wear on the compressor and help elongate the life of the unit.

Original Graph – Target temperature of 73 degrees in the kitchen – Compressor run time of 13.1 hours (787 minutes) over a 24 hour period

compressor run time with thermostat at 73

After Adjustment – Target temperature raised to 75 degrees in the same kitchen – Compressor run time of 10.5 hours (630 minutes) over a 24 hour period. Savings of 20%.

compressor run time with thermostat at 75

Small Box Energy provides the visibility restaurants need to reduce workload on equipment and save money.

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Online Training Now Available

By | Education, Efficiency, IoT, Training | No Comments

chameleon cloud training videosSmall Box Energy Training Videos

We know how busy you are running the stores; therefore, we have launched our own e-learning series for chameleon-cloud and our mobile applications. Customers can find the collection of videos on Small Box Energy’s YouTube page. We have also included links to the videos through the support portal and in the footer of www.smallboxenergy.com.

Each video is approximately 10-15 minutes in length and walks through specific tabs and settings while teaching you how to quickly assess the graphs and data to detect potential equipment or operational failures.

Watch and learn at your own pace and share with colleagues. Watch Now.

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Common Energy Management Certifications

By | Certifications, Education, Efficiency, Energy Management | No Comments

Why are energy management certifications important and how do you distinguish between the credentials?

CEM-blue140As the world turns continues to reduce energy and use sustainable resources, it is easy to get caught up in the hype and the idea of saving a ton of money without checking the credentials of who is trying to sell you the next great thing. As a business owner, or consumer, it is important to know the various energy certifications, why they are important, and when to ask for the credentials.

Certified Energy Manager®

Certified Energy Manager® (CEM®) is a worldwide recognition from the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE). The AEE was established in 1981 and has been the leading body for certifying Energy Managers with a standard ANSE/ISO/IEC certification program. It is the most widely recognized energy management certification with over 15,500 active CEMs. To become a CEM, individuals are required to take classroom courses and have relevant work experience. The exam is monitored and governed by a 3rd party to ensure integrity of the exam. To maintain the certification, CEMs must continue to evolve their education on an annual basis.

A CEM optimizes solutions to reduce energy consumption, and they serve as a system integrator for electrical, mechanical, process and building infrastructure systems. Their strategic, cost effective approach often makes them candidates for leadership roles to develop and implement energy management strategies for the entire organization.

Tracy Markie, CEO of Small Box Energy is a CEM.

Certified Business Energy Professional

The Business Energy Professional (BEP) program, also created by the AEE, is specifically designed to raise the professional standards of those engaged in business/marketing, energy management, utility account management and customer service representative. This certification requires individuals to complete a classroom course and pass the exam. They must maintain a high level of competence and ethical fitness for business/marketing and energy management related disciplines, as well as follow laws governing and affecting energy professionals.

LEED Professional Credential

A LEED professional credential signifies someone is qualified as an active participant in the green building movement through design, construction, operations and maintenance of buildings and neighborhoods that save energy, use fewer resources, reduce pollution, and contribute to healthier environments for their occupants and the community. There are several certification types.

A LEED AP credential shows advanced knowledge in green building as well as expertise in a particular LEED rating system, for example Building Design & Construction, Operations & Maintenance, Interior Design & Construction, Home, and Neighborhood Development. LEED certified professionals must maintain their credential through on-going education and certification.

Certified Sustainable Building Advisor

An employee with the title of Certified Sustainable Building Advisor (CSBA) specializes in strategies and tools for implementing sustainable building. They work with architects, designers, builders, building operators, and utilities to identify and discuss the key practices of sustainable building and improve a building’s performance. Certification can be obtained through college courses.

Credential for Green Property Management

The National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) and National Apartment Association Education Institute (NAAEI) offer the Credential for Green Property Management (CGPM). The CGPM certification is tailored for on-site managers, maintenance staff, and supervisors of front-line staff. It provides management companies and owners a mechanism for meeting initial and ongoing training commitments to the HUD Office of Affordable Preservation (OAHP) if they have opted for a green Market-to-Market restructuring. Credential holders will learn the latest techniques and technologies for making cost-saving green improvements at properties

The CGPM is not restricted to employees of management companies who have opted for OAHP green restructuring. This credential will also benefit on-site managers, maintenance staff and supervisors of front-line staff at other affordable and conventional apartment communities employing green operations and maintenance practices.

These are the most common credentials; however, there are other certifications available.

The CEM credentials require a real-world experience and degrees. Small Box Energy has a program in place to certify key personnel after they have met the requirements.

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Remote Diagnostics Solves Real Issues

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, Food Safety, IoT, Visibility Stories | No Comments

Ice Buildup on the Coil Explained and Solved Using IoT

Recently, our tech support received a phone call from a customer.  Their walk-in cooler seemed to be running ok, but he was concerned about all the ice on the coils. Our tech support pulled up the data from the refrigeration module.

A quick analysis of the graph instantly showed the problem. See the actual graph below. It reads right to left, and is for a period of 7 days. The blue line is the coil temperature and the green line is the room temperature.  The room temperature of the cooler was ranging from 40-50˚ consistently. This means the door was being left open from employees.  The employees were instantly trained to correct their behavior and stop leaving the door open.

Results:

If you look at the left side of the graph from 0-1, you see 3 spikes to 40 degrees in the blue coil temperature; this means the unit was in the proper defrost mode. You will also see the coil temperature is well below the room temperature and consistently staying between 33-35 degrees.

This corrective action saves money because the cooler isn’t working as hard to lower the temperature of surrounding spaces or freezing up resulting in visits by technicians. We would also expect a longer life of the cooler and compressor because it is not running all the time. Additionally, we might expect the food quality to improve and reduce the chance for a loss of produce, as the cooler is now maintaining a consistent temperature.

Why Does Ice Form?

Ice can form on the evaporative coil due to added humidity from surrounding environments. The developing moisture on the coil causes the ice buildup. In this case the door was being left open, so the ice was forming as the evaporative coil was trying to maintain temperature.

Remote diagnostics solves real issues

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Tracy Markie and David Andow lead an IoT educational session @ the Outlook Leadership Conference

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

IoT can Reduce Operating Costs for Convenience Stores

The Outlook Leadership Conference is a significant educational event for Convenience Store operators around the US. Tracy Markie, CEO and David Andow, president of Small Box Energy, were delighted to participate as speakers at this annual conference being held in Scottsdale this week.

It is no secret the convenience store industry is facing many different challenges with labor reclassification, minimum wage increases, and health insurance costs; among many other obstacles. Even faced with these challenges, the industry continues to grow and experienced record in-store sales in 2015, led by strong growth in foodservice products. Foodservice sales accounted for 33.7% of gross revenue.

At the same time, the industry saw a dramatic increase in maintenance costs – a 5% increase over 2014. IoT technology can help provide visibility and control to reduce these costs, as well as other operating costs for this industry.

IoT technology touches everyday things from wearables to sensors; it surrounds us. But often, many people don’t realize the huge impact IoT can have on their business. It enables remote diagnostics for HVAC, refrigeration, kitchen and lighting equipment. Tracy spoke to the audience about how IoT technology can be used to control, automate and schedule key equipment in the convenience stores. Almost 75% of the electricity consumed by convenience stores is from refrigeration and lighting equipment. This equipment can be monitored and automated to reduce electricity using IoT technology. Newer equipment has IoT technology built-in; but there are solutions for existing equipment, as well. With IoT, you can have insight into how much electricity each piece of equipment is using, and when using a simple web browser or your phone. Simply put, IoT solutions now give you the tools to control what we thought was ‘uncontrollable.’

David went on to speak about how IoT is like an x-ray for your business; it gives you a birds-eye view of one store, twenty stores or hundreds of stores. When an employee calls and says the space is too warm, the facility manager can look at their phone or on the internet and see how long the HVAC unit has been running, as well as the historical data associated with the unit(s). When the beer is warm, the manager can pull up the data to see if the compressor is running, failing, or if the door was propped open for an extended period of time. He used real data and charts, walking the audience through various remote diagnostic scenarios that saved the stores time and money, and most likely extended the life of the equipment.

Now that foodservice is a key initiative for this industry; the audience agreed all foods need to be temperature probed, recorded and available for health inspectors. With IoT solutions, the temperatures are automatically loaded to the database in the cloud and accessible long-term. Food probes and temperature monitoring with real-time alarms is another IoT feature and tool to help this industry become more efficient.

Technology cost is coming down, yet many executives still believe the cost for equipment diagnostics or food safety using IoT far outweighs the benefits, but Tracy went on to explain that implementing a system like Small Box Energy’s chameleon also enables energy conservation. Automation and control reduce total consumption and, in some cases, pays for the system. Additionally, IoT is so mainstream, the costs are lower and many companies, like Small Box Energy, have moved to a managed service agreement with a monthly subscription and no up-front capital costs for equipment.

At the end of the presentation, a customer in the audience spoke up referencing the hot summer they had just seen in the southern part of the US. He analyzed and compared their office kWh consumption, which does not have an energy management system, and their stores, which are using Small Box Energy’s chameleon. Their electricity usage at the office went up approximately 13% over last year; whereas their stores remained almost flat.

As this industry continues to grow, we see many benefits to implementing an IoT-based solution to save energy, reduce maintenance costs and implement food safety procedures. For more information contact Small Box Energy by emailing salesteam@smallboxenergy.com.

IOT_David Presenting

David and Tracy Presenting

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The Power of Visibility

By | Case Studies, Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, Visibility Stories | No Comments
Two workers inspecting ventilation system

Two workers inspecting ventilation system

What does Small Box Energy mean when we say chameleon™ gives our customers visibility? Is it another marketing buzz word to get me to install yet another technology, full of promises that I never see? Unfortunately, while technology is cool and innovative, we understand that sometimes it is hard to see the value over the ‘cool’ factor. Our Deployment Team and Client Success Managers see the value of chameleon on a daily basis.  

Our Director of Deployment shared this HVAC example with me last week, reiterating the value of visibility for our customers.

Why wasn’t the Service Area cooling?

Once the Small Box Energy solution is installed; there is a two week period used to ‘tune’ the system. During this time, we make the necessary adjustment to maximize efficiency for the each store including temperature settings, lighting schedules, and alarm notifications.

Remote Diagnostics: When the thermostat was calling for cooling, and indeed running, the discharge temperature was not decreasing for the ‘service area’ of the restaurant.  The discharge temperature should be 15-20˚ below the target temperature.

On-site Inspection: Upon physical inspection, there was no air coming out of the registers in this area. When inspecting the rooftop unit, we found the unit was running correctly and receiving the correct commands from the thermostat. Upon inspection of the ductwork, we found the ducts were connected to another HVAC unit. This was causing an imbalance in the system and a heavier load on the dining room HVAC unit. Therefore, the owner is getting this corrected.

Why is this important?

  1. Two HVAC units feeding into one set of registers makes it almost impossible to keep a constant temperature for that space. It’s even possibly causing one of the units to go into heating mode while the other unit is in cooling mode to balance out the space temperature.
  2. For the space that is supposed to be cooled. Nothing happens. Temperature does not change. The employees have a tendency to keep turning down the set points for the “Service Area” thinking this will solve the temperature issue; but in reality, it adds to the issues already prevalent to the HVAC zone with two HVAC units fighting each other to obtain a temperature balance.
  3. As you can see, this would cause high run times for these units just to keep balance, thus wasting energy.

Visibility

Without the visibility of the newly installed chameleon system, this issue would have continued to go unnoticed for an extended period of time if not indefinitely resulting in wasted energy consumption, as well as wear and tear on the HVAC units, reducing the life expectancy of the units’ components. Now that this issue is fixed, we will be able to see how the equipment is running 24/7, ensuring efficiency and extended life.

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