Energy management and environmental performance have become an integral part of managing commercial buildings. To meet consumer and regulatory demand, software developers have launched a range of handy standalone applications that perform energy-related tasks and consumption assessments. Whether you’re seeking an official ENERGY STAR score, an air quality analysis, or an overall energy audit, here are three affordable (and even free) applications your organization should know about.
Purpose: Calculates an ENERGY STAR benchmark.
Pricing: $500 per building, with a discount for owners of multiple buildings.
New state laws require commercial buildings to measure and report their ENERGY STAR performance scores to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Melon Power–which won second-place for “Best Overall App” in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Apps for Energy contest–does just that.
Melon Power was designed in response to a White House call-to-action–an industry-wide Green Button initiative in which several utility companies have agreed to provide consumption data to customers through Web-based portals.
The Web-based app works by capturing user-provided building metrics (like square footage), along with consumption data supplied by utility companies hosting a Green Button. Melon Power then reports that data to the EPA Portfolio Manager. Once the benchmark assessment is complete, the application determines an official ENERGY STAR score and offers suggestions to boost a building’s performance.
Purpose: Measures air quality and minimum ventilation rates.
Designed by Carmel Software Corporation, this application for Apple iOS devices helps ensure compliance with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning’s (ASHRAE’s) standard for indoor air quality (IAQ) in commercial buildings.
ASHRAE’s Standard 62.1 has long-served as the primary standard for ventilation and IAQ in the building industry. This app ensures commercial buildings are meeting the minimum requirements for filtration and air cleaning. It also gauges when a ventilation system must be operated.
The app performs ventilation calculations once the user defines parameters like the type of space, input, floor area, zone population, and design airflow. The application then allows the user to adjust input values and immediately see the calculated results. From there, it can export results for later analysis in Excel–allowing users to determine where inefficiencies may be occurring.
Purpose: Performs energy audits.
ecoInsight is an energy audit tool for the Apple iPad. It provides features to easily collect data while performing an audit of a building’s energy performance–specifically, measurements for lighting and control systems, motors/drives, occupancy, and operations schedules. Relevant data–area, space, luminary wattage, etc.–can be entered manually, or through multimedia features such as pictures and voice notes.
Once an audit has been completed, the data is uploaded for analysis by ecoInsight’s online application, which proposes efficiency upgrades and generates customer proposals.
These applications address a broad range of energy management challenges. With features that measure real consumption and identify where inefficiencies exist, these products provide building operators with a deeper understanding of their environmental performance.
By demonstrating where consumption is the highest–and by providing suggestions for upgrades and improvements–these apps are a valuable resource for facility managers. And for mere pennies, their findings and upgrade suggestions could save by reducing costly operations over time.
Has your organization implemented an energy management application? If so, what experiences have you had? Have the products proven useful as standalone applications? What products would you recommend to other industry professionals? We’d love to hear your insight and suggestions below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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