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Intelligent Indoor Energy Management

Donegal CoCo is using real-time sensor data and historical data analysis to optimise energy usage in public buildings

Interpretation of the SEMM model

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This pilot uses IoT sensors to capture real-time energy consumption data in 5 public buildings and share it with building managers via an Energy Management System. The objectives are to: 1. demonstrate that individuals can manage energy consumption more effectively by participating in a community-based approach  2. show that using IoT to make data accessible via a simple interface is essential in a community based energy project 3. demonstrate that benchmarking energy consumption against comparable buildings is an effective way of motivating users to make energy changes 4. Observe how often community stakeholders must interact to effectively help each other manage energy consumption
Target Groups

Target Groups

Technologies Used

Techologies Used

Sensors: Temperature and Relative Humidity Sensors installed at each site Footfall sensors installed at each site Electricity smart meter installed at each site Heating Sensors installed at each site Network: SigFox - a reliable, low-power network solution to connect sensors and devices  Data: Electricity Data Oil Data Footfall Sensor Data Temperature and Humidity Data Data from Legacy billing system for up to 12 months Engagement: Data consumed from sensors is presented via the Energy Management System for stakeholders to engage with through reports, charts, models etc.

Pilot Story

This pilot involves using energy data from:
  • Building Management Systems
  • Energy suppliers
  • Manual bills
  • Sensors
  • BER energy rating certificates
  • Asset register
  • Building plans
in 5 public buildings in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal to optimise energy usage. Our pilot is based on a collective community approach to energy management. Traditionally, managing energy consumption is based on a silo methodology in relation to purchasing, planning and using energy. We believe that people make better energy consumption decisions if they were able to see the data in a usable format and make comparisons against buildings of a similar size and usage. The information must be provided in real time and provide comparative analysis and patterns of energy usage. This also involves regular meetings with the other members of the community group, and some education and training. Five Co. Donegal public buildings, which are different models in terms of age and energy profile, were selected for the pilot. They are the County Library, County Museum, Regional Cultural Centre, An Grianan Theatre and Letterkenny Public Services Centre. Some of these buildings did not even have an energy rating at the beginning of the pilot project. The common element was that the main sources of energy were electricity and oil. Sensors were installed to measure temperature and relative humidity, footfall, electricity consumption and heating at each of these buildings. All this data is consumed by an Energy Management System (EMS), which is accessible to all the stakeholders on the project. They are able to compare and contrast their energy consumption with the other buildings and make adjustments accordingly for improvements. The key goal of the pilot was to ensure the stakeholders interacted and learned from each other’s experiences. They were exposed to energy consumption in buildings of a similar size. The instances of significant disparity in terms of energy consumption encouraged them to upgrade to more energy efficient systems and renewable energy solutions. Another element of the pilot was to educate and train the stakeholders in energy management, so they are all operating at the same level. This has encouraged them to interact as a community, where they are working together to develop an ongoing sustainable energy efficiency program and move towards renewable energy solutions where feasible. In practical terms, building access had to be arranged in advance with building supervisors. An electrician had to be on site for the installation of the smart meters. Oil sensors were attached to each of the oil boilers. The Sigfox signal was tested in each location and a booster was placed in one location to boost the signal. Sigfox was used as the network to relay the data back to a cloud server, where the data was then disseminated via an Energy Management System called Verve. It has multiple features and enables the users to view data in multiple formats. It enables the user to generate reports, overlay results, view locations, view meter locations, overview budget comparisons, and compare statistics against other buildings. 
Pilot Results

Pilot Results

A community of public owned building managers has been established and the impact has been positive. There was no visibility of energy consumption before this project. The budget holders were isolated and were paying for energy without being fully aware of the consumption patterns. They had little knowledge of energy, apart from being aware that the bills were high. They now have real-time visibility into their consumption, the ability to compare it against similar buildings and a forum to discuss issues and gain advice.

Recommendations And Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned & Recommendations

The original pilot plan was adjusted based on building accessibility due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the building managers' engagement and eagerness to learn about energy and reduce consumption ensured its success. The building owners are engaged as a community, there is visibility into the energy status and consumption of each of the buildings and consumption has been reduced as a result. This project is expected to expand to other buildings and stakeholders beyond the end of the project.