Dashboards — a showcase for renewable energy systems

Many building automation systems have energy management software that collects energy data in real time — data that can be used for a variety of purposes. While this information is traditionally used by the building’s facilities group to monitor utility usage and track system performance, more owners see the opportunity to use it for educational purposes and to engage occupants to promote energy conservation. One method of engagement that has gained popularity is a real-time energy consumption display available in web applications or an onsite energy dashboard.

Dashboards are very valuable with renewable energy systems, showcasing the energy generated (or carbon-based fossil energy averted) in a selected time frame. Large, dedicated solar photovoltaic systems are becoming very prevalent as more clients move toward zero net energy designs in a commitment to sustainability.

Many dashboards include options for showing unit equivalents for the renewable energy produced, outside of kilowatt-hours (kWh) and British thermal units (BTUs). Dashboards used in public displays and for educational purposes often equate the renewable energy produced to pounds of carbon averted, or operating hours of conventional appliances or miles not driven by a vehicle. These comparisons often have a greater impact on individuals not familiar with kWh or BTUs.

While dashboards can vary in appearance and features, it is important they contain sufficient information to engage the building operators, occupants and visitors to take the intended action. A successful and engaging dashboard will be dynamic and interactive, with an easy-to-use interface. In addition, it will include charts and tables with appropriate labels and descriptions to ensure users understand the comparisons and trends presented.

Energy dashboards can be an important tool, providing valuable access to the performance of the building’s systems and effectively demonstrating how occupants and visitors can be influenced in their habits and routines.

For further information regarding energy dashboards and their various uses, please contact Tim Schroeder at tschroeder@hanson-inc.com or Bob Knoedler at rknoedler@hanson-inc.com.

Posted on April 20, 2017