Category

Efficiency

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.

2000px-Energy_Star_logo.svg

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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Equipment Performance – A Portfolio Perspective

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

Quarterly reports review your entire portfolio highlighting run-times, energy usage, and alarms.

Whether you own 2 stores or 200, being efficient is the key to reducing operating costs. Small Box Energy understands that need, which is why we provide quarterly ‘Fit’ reports specifically for your equipment.

You’ll be able to see and compare:

  • HVAC compressor runtimes
  • Walk-in compressor runtimes
  • Alarms over the period
  • HVAC target temperature overrides
  • Energy Usage

A sample report looks like the picture below.

portfolio - partial -2

Data Enables Strategic Decision Making

One of the advantages of IoT is the ability to access data. In fact, we serve up over 140,000 data points each day for each of our sites that we monitor. But what do you do with it? How do you analyze it? What is the real advantage of having all this data? The advantage isn’t the data, the advantage is having the tools to combine and display the data you need into a useful format that is easy to read and understand. As the picture depicts above, we segregate and display the data by equipment so you can easily read and compare. Colors indicate performance evaluations. You can quickly scan the data, pick out the equipment in danger and compare the data across your entire portfolio. Customers have been able to make strategic decisions for efficiency, such as these:

  • Modify temperature settings to maximize energy efficiency
  • Choose to repair or replace equipment based on performance and other portfolio equipment needs
  • Evaluate a 3rd party vendor
  • Eliminate or modify existing preventative maintenance program based on equipment needs
  • Reevaluate the design and equipment needs for new locations

IoT and data provide the means, Small Box Energy makes it useful and actionable. Call us today or request a presentation.

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balancing a restaurant for comfort

A Balancing Act: Room Comfort

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

It’s probably the most common complaint in any restaurant, “it’s too cold in here!” Of course, almost everyone’s comfort level is different; however, we can agree that there are some acceptable standards for restaurants. We can also agree that the room temperature should be even across the room(s) for everyone’s dining pleasure. But achieving those standards can be very challenging.

Many people don’t understand air conditioners rely on sensors placed in the room and to balance the comfort across the space, the sensors need to be located correctly. For example, if there is a room with a lot of windows and sunlight; a sensor should be located near that area and at the opposite end of the room where these is no sunlight/heat from the windows. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to place a sensor near the door to the outside because heat/cold air rushing in from the outside will affect the space temperature. Therefore, placing the sensors strategically around the room enables an average to be taken and used as the input, so the HVAC unit can determine how long to blow cool air and effectively cool the space evenly.

Typically, this isn’t something business owners worry about – I mean let’s face it we have enough on our minds as it is. When the HVAC units are placed, the contractors place the sensors based on traffic flow and building factors to optimize your efficiency and comfort. But overtime, these sensors could stop working, be moved by other contractors, or the space itself could have been modified or changed.  That is why having remote diagnostics can help you determine when your HVAC unit is running efficiently due to sensors.

Case Study: Remote Diagnostics Uncovered Sensors Placed Incorrectly

Problem:  Managers told the Small Box Energy Client Success Manager (CSM) they felt the space was warmer than the thermostats indicated, and often had trouble keeping the space at a comfortable temperature for customers.

Upon inspection of the equipment through remote diagnostics, the CSM could see the target room temperature was barely being reached and the compressors were running constantly in 2 stages of cooling.

Sensor MisPlacement

Diagnosis: When the technician visited the space; they found the sensors were located incorrectly causing the room temperature being reported to be drastically different than if the sensors were placed properly.

Solution: The SBE technicians relocated the sensors, and the CSM noticed a significant difference in run-time for the compressor and the unit is now consistently reaching the target temperature.

sensor placed correctly

Additionally, the managers have reported back that the room temperature feels comfortable.

The Turquoise line is the Current Temperature

  • The straight Black line is the Target Temperature
  • The Purple line is the Discharge Temperature (this should be 15-20° below the target temperature)
  • The Blue lines are when the unit is in the Cooling Stage

 For more information on how Small Box Energy can help you save energy and money through remote equipment diagnostics, contact us today.

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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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