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University Wins 2020 Innovation Award for Energy Data Management

Innovation award

Stony Brook University has been awarded a 2020 Innovation Award by Smart Energy Decisions — an online-based resource dedicated to addressing the information needs of commercial and industrial electric power consumers — in recognition of the data analytics platform designed and used by the Office of Energy Management. The platform consists of sophisticated energy analytics tools including an energy intensity heat map program that allows the department to quickly and effectively analyze data and uncover anomalies in energy use on campus. Introduced in Fall 2018, the program was initially designed to analyze electric energy consumed by campus buildings throughout the University. At the conclusion of 2018, the successful program had expanded to include energy consumed by heating and cooling systems.

Energy Data Coordinator Christian Guzman
Energy Data Coordinator Christian Guzman

The program was developed by the Office of Energy Management, led by Director of Utilities Mike Martino, Campus Sustainability and Energy Manager Tom Lanzilotta, and Energy Data Coordinator Christian Guzman. With more than 400 metered points on campus that provide an endless stream of data, there was a growing need for a way to quickly analyze large quantities of data in an efficient and effective way. The process began by brainstorming with the team on how data should be visualized and presented. With a framework in place and extensive programming performed by Guzman using JavaScript, the team was able to pull data directly from the energy management server and insert it into a Google Sheet before populating the energy intensity heat maps using Google Sheets formulas. Additionally, the script was able to detect gaps in data and backfill if necessary while also factoring in weather data provided directly from local weather stations.

“The building heat maps are used daily to ensure buildings are operating as efficiently as possible and do not drift out of range,” said Lanzilotta. “We are also using the analytics to confirm the effectiveness of recent campus wide energy projects. We’ve already seen savings provided by this program, and it has proven to be an invaluable tool for us and will be going forward.”

By choosing to develop the system in-house rather than purchase an analytical tool from an outside company, the Energy Management team was able to design a program that was tailored to its needs. In addition to the energy intensity heat maps, e-mail alerts were introduced providing notifications of potential issues with building management system schedules or equipment issues. This allows staff to quickly address problems before energy is wasted. The program can also detect atypical energy use in a building and automatically sends an e-mail alert to the energy management team so they could look into it further.

As the program matured to include additional analytics, building managers were provided access to annual energy reports that highlight energy use and costs in their buildings, as well as detailed heat maps and year-to-year comparisons to help operate their buildings more efficiently.

“It’s great to see our hard work pay off with an honor like the 2020 Innovation Award,” said Guzman. “Hopefully the program can lead to more awards and additional savings in the future.”

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