Category

Efficiency

3 Reasons Why an EMS is a NEED to Have

By | Early Equipment Diagnostics, Efficiency, Energy Management, restaurants | No Comments

Let’s start this article off with..no one actually NEEDS anything…you don’t need to have a car…you don’t need to have a tv…..but we have these things to make our lives easier and much more enjoyable. The same goes for an energy management system (EMS) for your business, whether it’s in a convenience store, retail store, casino or a restaurant.

Around since the 1990’s, energy management systems have been creeping their way into our everyday lives. Whether it’s in your home with your programmable thermostat or in your office building with automatically scheduled lighting, EMS systems are part of the new IoT revolution. A new study conducted by Forbes found that businesses are fixated on IoT and how it can slingshot their business into the future with ease, over 90% of businesses surveyed in fact. Why?

The Environment:

It’s just the right thing to do for our environment and for your business. Restaurants consume twice as much energy per square foot than any other industry. The energy that Americans consume is 90% nonrenewable and this vast energy consumption is contributing not just to the depletion of resources but is contributing to the deterioration of our environment. Having an Energy Management System in place helps to cut back energy consumption, not only do you have the piece of mind that you are doing your part to save the planet but it allows for functionality.

Convenience

Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket. The world is shifting to an IoT state of mind. Access to your house lights, garage, and A/C all from your phone. If your house has it….why wouldn’t you implement it into your business? Most EMS gives you the flexibility to not only monitor remotely but they also enable control. Gone are the days of driving up to your restaurant on a beautiful, sunny day, birds chirping and parking lot lights on. Give yourself a break and your staff for that matter, give them the convenience that will make facility maintenance using early equipment diagnostics, lighting schedules, and temperature alarms right in their back pocket.

The Bottom Line

An energy management system or building automation system can help with your bottom line in several different ways. Providing energy savings by way of reducing your energy consumption is the first, most obvious way. Your energy consumption can be monitored and scheduling can be set on your critical systems to reduce the amount of consumption and limit the times to non peak times, maximizing our energy savings. Other ways that are not as apparent are in early equipment diagnostics and food safety. Food safety is a bit of a tricky one, it’s sort of like insurance. You don’t really value it until you need it. Having a food safety incident where your food temperatures come into question with the public, you can’t afford to have some sort digitized way of keeping track of your food temperatures and the times they were last checked. Early equipment diagnostics is something the industry has shifted focus to recently, managing an entire portfolio and prioritizing maintenance can be a daunting task. With an energy management system in the mix you have a way to analyze that data and prioritize your maintenance dollars to go where they are needed most. Most energy management systems provide reports on the equipment functionality and number of problems encountered. This data coupled with your effective management team makes your facilities maintenance unstoppable.

IoT is the most important emerging technology today. To effectively compete in this data driven, digital economy you have to at least have a grasp or plans on how your business will incorporate IoT to make your business successful. These smart systems predict future equipment failures, and  help you manage and address them accordingly.

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10 Reasons Why Your Food Shouldn’t be the Only Thing That’s Sustainable

By | Community, Efficiency, Energy Management, IoT, Restaurant Tips, Uncategorized | No Comments

Sustainable is an all to familiar buzz word in the restaurant and several other industries as of late. It seems to have become more prominent the more we learn about our environment, our food, and how the two are connected. We deep dive into the industry every time we perform a new install, according to trends for restaurants and EMS systems as of late here are some reasons why your food shouldn’t be the only thing that is sustainable…

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Because it’s good for our environment: Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States

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Restaurants use 2x more energy per square foot than any other industry: Producing energy contributes to the breakdown of our environment. Power plants must produce more power to keep up with the demand, which emits more co2 emission into the air. Americans emit about 9 tons of co2 emissions per person per year, this is only accounting for the power sector!

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LEED the Restaurant industry: Prove to your customers you are going the extra mile to help the environment in every way you possibly can. Get a LEED certification to initiate change and do your part in the restaurant community. Check out the requirements to become a green building here. Not to mention all the awesome PR you’ll get because you love the environment and are doing your part to help!

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Millennials love the environment: Young adults age 25-34 and families are more apt to be influenced by a range of sustainability and sourcing menu terms. This only increases your business when millennials comprise about ¼ of the U.S. population!

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unEaten food at retailers, restaurants, and homes costs about $161 billion annually: Uneaten food by patrons does not always get taken home…diners leave 17% of meals uneaten and 55% of that 17%  are not taken home and just thrown out. That’s money that could have been in your pocket and lessen food waste. Options to help reduce food waste include offering smaller portion sizes, identifying what options are being wasted, and a restaurant in London even charges a fee for unfinished food and donates those proceeds to the charity Oxfam.

Restaurant Energy Consumption

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Refrigeration accounts for 32% of a restaurants total energy consumption: Simple inspections of refrigerator equipment is all it takes to ensure you are as efficient as you can be. Regular cleaning and inspection of refrigeration coils and door seals can save you a headache later. Controllers that mitigate defrosts are also ideal to cut down on defrosts and conserve energy.

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19% of a restaurants energy goes directly to lighting: Making the switch to LED or installing an EMS that controls and puts all lighting on schedules can significantly cut your costs where you may have thought that there was nothing left to be done. In a specific Small Box Energy case study we decreased lighting consumption by 8%. 

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As of 2016 10% of the total U.S energy consumption came from renewable energy sources: That means that 90% of the energy consumption came from non-renewable sources. There is a limited amount of fossil fuels and it takes millions of years to produce, it is estimated that the world. not just the U.S., will run out of fossil fuels within 100-200 years.

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Food waste that goes into landfills generates methane. Methane is 21 times more harmful than CO2: Another reason to offer carryout containers that are environmentally friendly or add that smaller portion section to your menu like you have been thinking.

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Installing an EMS (energy management system) can reduce your energy consumption by up to 25% and in some cases $8000 annually: An energy management system can help your business cut where it makes sense and a difference. Simple automated controls and sensors installed in all your critical systems (HVAC, refrigeration, lighting..etc) helps you monitor, control, and reduce your kwh consumption. Reducing your energy consumption by 25% will significantly help in efforts to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a win win win!

All of these suggestions are merely that, suggestions. They are just words and will remain that until you take action. That’s the challenge. Take action, lead others, inspire and show your customers and peers your motives are not just driven by just making money, but by how what you do has a lasting impact on the environment.

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3 Reasons Why Your Standard Thermostat Isn’t Cutting It!

By | Efficiency, Energy Management, Restaurant Tips, restaurants | No Comments

Restaurants are busy places filled with customers, employees, food, and lets not forget the hot kitchen equipment. We have installed several systems all across the United States in all different types of restaurant builds. In our travels we have seen lots of different types of thermostats installed in locations, from a standard basic thermostat, to high tech programmable thermostats, or the thermostat that came with the building when it was built 40 years ago. We have also come across hacks that employees create and use to get around restrictions for thermostat setpoints.  We all have seen those plastic thermostat guards…but there are even ways to get around those; We’ve seen it all! Here are our top 3 reasons why your standard thermostat isn’t cutting it in your restaurant.

1.Your employees will always set the temperatures to what feels good to them, this temperature may not feel good to the customers.

Time and time again we see this, the balance between the staff and the customers. A good starting point is researching what local business keep their thermostats at around you, or you can simply peek at the thermostat next time you go out to eat. Once you get that baseline you can change it based on your customer’s comments. We often see the employees will turn temperatures way down because they are hot. Of course, they are hot, they are up and moving around and if its a lunch rush forget about it they are sweating. The problem with this is your customers aren’t moving around as fast and frequently as they are so they will most likely be freezing in the temps that feel good to the staff. Find a good balance and stick to it.

2. Employees, and anyone else who can see your thermostat can change set points causing extended run times for A/C units.

You may not have had a problem with your typical, run of the mill thermostat but your energy bill and your A/C units are seeing the repercussions. Having an open thermostat can cause several problems like employees and the general public changing the setpoints which can result in equipment failure if they are tampered with too often or set too low. In this instance, if you think you are covered because you have the plastic thermostat guard…think again. We have seen employees sitting with a hairdryer or setting freezing foods on top of the box in order to get it to turn on. We have even seen implements used to stick through the open spaces to change the temperature. In this case, the best option is thermostats that come as part of an EMS system. In addition to being fully customizable, you get data and alarms that show you when temperatures were changed. These nifty thermostats also give you the option to be locked out completely at a local level, so even if the buttons are pressed or menus are tampered with they will not be able to be unlocked at a local level.

3. Schedules can’t be set or can be set and are tampered with

Scheduling is super important in the restaurant industry, there are rushes and there are times when it’s really dead. During the rushes you will want the temperature to be lower than normal to compensate for all of those bodies in one place at the same time, but who would remember to turn this back up after the lunch rush is over? No one, we see it often where the setpoint is left super low and just continues to run. This causes your customers to be uncomfortable and not to mention all of the wasted energy and money. Having a thermostat capable of schedules is best for the restaurant environment simply because you are subtracting the human error out of the equation. You no longer have to rely on someone to change the setpoint after a lunch rush and back down again because most likely, they won’t remember. Not only will these save you a headache, they will save you the money on your HVAC consumption.

There are several solutions out there to alleviate some of the pain that comes along with each one of these, deciding which is best for your business is the tough part. With the chameleon platform, we utilize schedules that fit to your specific business needs and give access to who you deem necessary. We have the capability to lock out thermostats completely or have an adjustment range of 2 degrees up or down so your staff still feels empowered but you don’t pay for it. We also alert and alarm you to changes if you opt to keep the system open. Providing data on override times, temperatures, and alarms is what helps you pinpoint what your customers want while simultaneously providing you with equipment diagnostics on units and their likelihood to fail.

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6 Things to Consider When Choosing an Energy Management System

By | Efficiency, Energy Management, restaurants | No Comments

Restaurants fit into the commercial sector that accounts for 8.9% of the nation’s energy consumption. Energy Star found they consume 2.5 times the amount of every other commercial sector PER SQUARE FOOT! That’s awatt (haha I had to) of energy, and with energy prices only rising, the monthly utility cost for restaurants is exponential. Future Market Insights says that the energy management industry will soar to 21.6 million by 2025, that’s a drastic change from the 6.3 million that it’s valued at now. That’s because restaurants are not the only ones switching to EMS systems, residential, commercial and even entire cities are switching to more energy sustainable solutions. Because of the large market and overwhelming amounts of information, we put together some key things to look for when considering a building automation system or energy management solution.  

      1.  What are you trying to alter?

This is something that most people would say is a no brainer…but when it comes down to it are you just trying to cut energy or are you looking for an all in one building automation system? It’s important to know exactly what you aim to do with your energy efficiency project and how you plan to measure its success.

      2. Visibility

Don’t settle for less in this area. You don’t want to pay for something that tells you exactly what your standard thermostat tells you. Historical data and trend graphs can make all the difference in how you manage your locations. Don’t settle for knowing the current temperature and what the temperature will change to in 3 hours, know the last time the temperature was changed, how much it was changed by and how it is currently affecting that A/C unit. Document your pain points right now when it comes to what you wish you had in an energy management system and this will help identify and disqualify potential candidates.

      3. Support

Having tons of data collected for you is useless if you cannot understand or do not have the time to decipher it. Choose an option that has dedicated people to help when you are in need. Whether it is identifying trends in data or following up to make sure your staff reacted appropriately to an alarm, make sure you get the support you are actually paying for.  

      4. Modular

Look for a platform that gives you visibility into the areas you are concerned with but don’t limit yourself to what you want right now. We all know too well that the needs of any business are ever changing and right now you may just want energy management…but what happens when corporate wants to incorporate food safety standard that needs to be electronic? More training and possibly different software and whole new system to learn.

      5. Identify existing issues with equipment that affects what you are trying to control

You can’t fix energy consumption related to your HVAC if one of your 4 units is down and making the other 3 work harder resulting in more energy consumption and depleting existing equipment life. Making sure your units are in good working order is half the battle and will not seem like such a surprise when an outside company cannot install their energy equipment because the units aren’t even functional.

6. Ease of use

Get something that is user-friendly. The last thing you want is to have to train your whole staff on a new piece of software/hardware that is not easily navigable and not intuitive. Let’s not forget you will have to use this too 😁

All in all, make sure you chose something that will fit your business not the other way around. There are several options out there for a  energy management solution that is coupled with other areas you might want to venture into at a later time. Seamless is the key, easy training, easy transition, easy money!

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Smart Cities a Thing of The Future?

By | Efficiency, IoT, Uncategorized | No Comments

Flying cars, diners with tv waiters and hovering trash cans…. a scene from the 1989 Back to The Future Part II movie that depicts a severely futuristic 2015. Although we do have semi-autonomous cars and not flying ones, tablets to place your order at restaurants the city of Chicago has a new approach to smart cities and we have some insight at how they plan to get there.

The Smarter City

Chicago has recently been expanding their efforts in becoming a smarter city according to a recent Cnet article that was published. What does that mean? Chicago residents can open a browser on their phone and see the location of every snow plow in the area. City officials can use a computer analysis to predict where rats will be in the city using information like locations of overflowing garbage and planned sewer pipe repairs, helping them combat their immense rat problem, along with replacing 270,000 street lamps with LED’s starting in September 2017.

The new project in progress is a new digital mapping system that will help determine what pipes are where under the city and just what each of those pipes is for. Currently, if any repairs are to be done in the city, crews must contact the office of underground coordination to identify what pipes are nearby and if they encounter an unknown, a specialist has to be brought in to determine if the pipe can be removed. This causes the city time delays and money.

The Solution

A phone app and computer program that creates a digital blueprint of Chicago’s underground pipe maze consisting of water, sewer, electric, gas and broadband lines…not including other services from 30 other companies and utilities. Chicago partners withhttp://www.uilabs.org/ UI labs to create a 3d map of Chicago’s pipeline infrastructure. The map is created by an image analysis startup company called reconstruct, using software from Cityzenith. After a construction crew unearths pipes, replaces old ones with new ones, he then could pull out his phone and take a 360degree video of where the construction took place. This data is given to Reconstruct where they use an analysis technique on the video called point clouds. They analyze the points in the video which helps to create a 3d image of the pipes that were just recorded. Right now it takes 2 weeks to create a 3d image of the construction site video to map the underground of pipes, their hopes are to create a google maps of Chicago’s underground to make several processes more efficient and easier.

They will no longer need paper blueprints of the pipe maps, and can easily update where pipes have been replaced with the new technology. “My whole thing is to allow us not just to use data to be better at what we do, although that’s what it is, but also to continue to give people a chance to interact and interface with their government,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated.

 

Started From The Bottom Now We're Here

This type of innovated thinking all started with snow plows and a simple tracking mechanism and has grown into bettering the city for not just the government planning but the residents who live there. Chicago seems to have embraced technology to its fullest and made moves to become more efficient. This is not only applicable on a city-wide scale but in our everyday lives, our work, our schools, and our home. It’s not about technology taking over but utilizing one of the greatest tools we have at our disposal to be a better, more efficient, sustainable culture.

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Champ Spotted on Earth Day 2017!

By | Efficiency, Energy Management | No Comments

Champ was spotted in the beautiful, picturesque mountains of the Superstition Wilderness on Saturday April 22,2017…. or better known as Earth Day! Champ spent his day hiking and picking up trash along the hieroglyphic trail in the Superstition Wilderness. Many people may not know that many national parks have limited funding and rely heavily on volunteers to help keep the parks clean.

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Here are some eye-opening statistics about littering:

info graphic on litter-01

Here at Small Box Energy we want to keep our Earth beautiful, that’s why we provide services that help restaurants and c-stores cut their energy consumption by up to 30%. Litter is not the only thing endangering our earth…Energy consumption in the United States in 2015 was about 97.7 quadrillion Btu, 39% of that being electric power. This power we get from most power companies are generated by mechanisms that release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere. Knowing is half the battle…but changing…that’s the way to keep our Earth beautiful. Be sure to follow our instagram @smallboxenergy to see where Champ goes next!

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IoT Today & Tomorrow- Tracy Markie Speaks @ RFMA 2017

By | Efficiency, Energy Management, IoT, Tradeshows, Uncategorized | No Comments

Tracy Markie, Small Box Energy’s CEO, spoke at the RFMA conference on IoT Today & Tomorrow- Practical Use for Facility Managers. He expressed the differences in IoT today, how 6.4 billion

David Andow President of Small Box Energy

David Andow President of Small Box Energy

‘things’ will be connected; and IoT of tomorrow and how research suggests that 20.8 billion ‘things’ will be connected. IoT affects everything from the front of the house (POS, Customers, Marketing, Social, etc.), to operations (employees, Accounting, Suppliers, & Inventory), and to the back of house (Food Safety, Equipment Monitoring, Energy Efficiency etc.). The impact that a cloud based platform that connected every aspect of your business to conserve energy and gain visibility is priceless.

The session also included educational content about using EMS (Energy Management System) Data collected with IoT platforms can provide insight into HVAC issues at your restaurant.  Poor performing HVAC systems are energy wasters.  Servicing or replacing old HVAC units also lead to fewer complaints from customers.

RFMA Closing Party

RFMA Closing Party

We enjoy having the chance to attend these trade-shows as it gives us the chance to meet new people and build strong, new relationships; but it also allows us to meet up with old friends and have a great time!

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Proven Results – Case Study Shows Significant Equipment Energy Savings

By | Case Studies, Efficiency, Energy Management | No Comments

Real Data. Real Results.

Every day we get asked, ‘How can we be certain we are saving energy and money?”  The truth is we monitor your equipment daily. We take action if we see a warning or get an alarm. More so, we look at the details of the equipment and if a something is running too long, or too short we take action to notify you.  Equipment runtime is provided in quarterly reports and compared across your entire portfolio. See Portfolio Post.

Occasionally, customers ask for a pre-metering phase so they can understand the baseline metrics of each store. This is a bit more expensive, but it does help you understand the amount of energy your critical equipment is using and how much money we will save you.  We never pre-meter your entire portfolio, but we will pre-meter up to three stores.

I wanted to share with you a recent pre-metering case study because it is homogenous to most of the portfolios using Small Box Energy’s chameleon™.  The estimated ROI for this portfolio ranged from 30-49% depending on the location and equipment used – after the managed service fee.

Below are metrics from three stores. This is real data; we just omitted the name.

Overall Energy Savings

All three stores experienced overall energy savings based on the pre and post meter data. Overall savings were achieved by reducing refrigeration defrost cycles and automating HVAC and lighting schedules.

Store 1 Savings

Overall, the largest reduction in energy consumption from this site comes from their refrigeration equipment. By eliminating unnecessary defrost cycles, our chameleon adaptable controller reduces energy, eliminates ice formation and maintains a steady inside temperature.

Store 2 Savings

For this site, the largest improvement was for the HVAC equipment. In most cases, we find employees override the system and forgot to set the temperatures back. With chameleon, the system is locked with limited override capability. This ensures comfort and conserves energy.

Store 3 Savings

This site also saw a large reduction in refrigeration energy use. However; not all equipment improved. For Store 3, we had to move the room sensors. While this increased the comfort, it also increased the run-time for the unit. Room balance and sensor placement will always dictate the run-time for the HVAC unit. Many times we find moving the sensors improves efficiency, where in this situation it did not.

To learn more about how we can help you, call us at 480-253-3999.

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Achieving Energy Star Advantages Everyday

By | Efficiency, Energy Management | No Comments

Why wait to do routine energy and equipment audits when chameleon™ provides it 24/7.

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Energy Star recommends 5 practical things for increasing profitability by making improvements to your building.

Step1: Retrocommissioning –Identify underperforming equipment, determine which equipment should be replaced, and review operational tips to improve building performance.

Step 2: Lighting – Improve your lighting systems to reduce lighting energy use, improve the visual environment, and affect the sizing of HVAC and electrical systems.

Step 3: Supplemental Load Reductions –Improve heating, cooling, and electric loads in your building to reduce the size and cost of equipment upgrades.

Step 4: Air Distribution Systems – Upgrade or adjust your fan systems to maximize energy efficiency.

Step 5: Heating and Cooling Systems – After implementing the steps above, you may be ready to upgrade to a new, properly sized system, or to retrofit your existing system to optimize operation, reduce noise, and reduce the amount of required maintenance.

chameleon webDid you know Small Box Energy gives you the tools and data to achieve all these requirements, every day? In fact, these are part of our goals.  

Retrocommissioning – 24/7 data allows you to easily find underperforming equipment through graphical analysis, as well as urgent and warning alarms. Small Box Energy’s chameleon platform provides continuous commissioning meaning your system settings will never be left off target.

Lighting Controls – Controlling and scheduling lighting is instrumental in keeping lights off during non-operating hours and exterior lights off during daylight hours. We can also add motion-based sensors for maximum efficiency in less used areas.

Supplemental Load Reductions – Being able to review run-times and how often your equipment reaches the target room temperature gives you the data necessary to see if your equipment is sized accurately for your demand, or if it just needs maintenance. Because of the details our system provides, customers have identified a number of small improvements to reduce energy and load on the equipment including window shades and temperature set-point adjustments. And if anything starts to go off track, our alarms and alerts let you know immediately.

Air Distribution Systems – Our interface shows the status of the equipment at all times. Sometimes, the room isn’t balanced, sometimes the duct work isn’t correct for the configuration of the room, or sometimes users believe fans need to be running for ventilation. Use the data to make the adjustments and you will save money.

Heating/Cooling and Refrigeration Systems – Having the data for your entire portfolio helps you become more strategic with your cash flow when determining when to replace or upgrade your current equipment. Our chameleon controllers also optimize runtimes, maintain food quality and extend the life of existing equipment.

Small Box Energy is more than an energy management solution for today; we are your operational efficiency partner well poised to support your business every day for years to come.  All this data is available to you 24/7, so you are always maximizing equipment efficiency with early equipment diagnostics when repairs or replacements are needed.

What’s stopping you from getting started with us? Call your sales representative and let’s talk through your concerns. We have many customers saving money and seeing the value of early equipment diagnostics, temperature monitoring, and remote portfolio management and we want you to achieve these same great results!

The entire list and additional information from Energy Star can be found here.

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