Industry Spotlight: Reducing Payback Periods through Cloud-based Building Analysis Software

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By Doug Smith

Developed in 2015, Datakwip is transforming the energy efficiency industry with their software-as-a-service cloud-based platform. It allows customers to achieve energy savings and monitor performance with low investment, short ROI periods, and minimal effort.

Energy savings is an increasingly high priority in commercial and publicly owned buildings, and this is particularly true when updating older buildings to newer energy efficiency standards. Energy efficiency project models, such as energy performance contracting, provide a robust and well-established process to achieve energy savings. However, any energy project involves hurdles in gathering building energy usage metrics that impact the timing and project results. The first obstacle stems from the difficulty in extracting data from legacy, 15- or 20-year-old energy management systems. Too often, legacy systems are written off as data sources because there is limited capability to retrieve the information. The second hurdle arises from delays in receiving energy usage metrics. Projects move at a slower pace because the building owner or contractor is waiting to see energy usage statistics at the end of the month or designated period.

Data drives analytics that determine retrofit recommendations, baseline energy usage, and verify that the energy system meets performance standards. It is paramount that the data accumulated in all phases of the project is comprehensive, accurate, and readily available.

The Datakwip Model

Cory Perdue, President & CEO

Datakwip has leveraged better and quicker data to an unprecedented degree and is producing incredible results. Cory Perdue, President & CEO of Datakwip, summarizes the benefits in this way:

“We’re literally going into buildings and saving people 15 percent off their utility bill with payback periods of less than a year, all with low or no-cost opportunities. That’s how critical this data-driven approach is—it’s that powerful. Most customers are used to considering 5-, 10- or 15-year payback periods, but we can often produce the same results in one.”

This advanced system is conceptually simple but technologically powerful.

How Datakwip Works

Datakwip is a cloud-based platform that connects to existing and new assets in commercial facilities. It is hardware and software agnostic, with the ability to integrate with a building’s legacy systems. This enables real-time data collection, insight into how each system is operating individually, and how all building systems are working as a whole. Datakwip can access all available system performance indicators to generate extremely precise information.

One of the most remarkable features of how Datakwip is implemented is its remote nature. Perdue tells of a building that was onboarded in the first month following a COVID-induced lockdown:

“A lot of competitors require a specific hardware gateway that needs to be physically installed. Datakwip doesn’t. We actually did a building one month after we went into our first state of emergency here; we never had to send anybody on-site, and we were able to run analytics on the building while it was starting up and shutting down due to COVID policies. We could tell the customer, in real-time, the impacts each policy change had on their energy use.”

After Datakwip has onboarded the facility, the company creates a portal for the customer. They can log into the cloud from anywhere in the world and review their building’s performance.  

The Advantages Datakwip Offers

There are three primary advantages Datakwip offers customers. The first is identifying savings that a client wouldn’t otherwise have been able to find. The software can access and monitor all systems, then feed data to artificial intelligence (AI) that will scrub it for energy-saving opportunities. Using data-driven insights facilitates analysis that is several layers deeper than was previously possible.

Second, Datakwip can review system performance and confirm that energy conservation measures (ECMs) were properly implemented. The AI can highlight anomalies for human review, pointing to specific factors that need to be optimized to achieve maximum performance and cost savings.

Finally, using this data-based approach lets the customer verify that they’re getting the performance they expected out of their investment. Once the project is complete, Datakwip’s platform can immediately validate that the air, water, lighting, and electricity systems are operating to performance standards. Simultaneously, they can evaluate the financial impact of the overall design to ensure savings goals are met. 

The availability and breadth of data have led to Datakwip’s ESCO partners improving current business models or unlocking new models. ESCOs now have the capability to know precisely what’s going on in a building from the moment they first engage with the customer.  

Predicting Opportunity & Fault Detection

A key component of Datakwip’s platform is its ability to estimate energy savings from opportunities it identifies. This information helps craft and prioritize ECMs. The platform also supports more traditional fault detection and predictive maintenance features that operators have come to expect, reducing unplanned downtime and failures.

How ESCOs Can Partner with Datakwip

To be as effective as possible, Datakwip must flexibly interact with ESCOs. Perdue explains how ESCOs can partner with them:

“We have to be flexible because the structure that’s built around ESPCs and performance contracts is inherently complex. We try not to become another constraint on the customer or our partner, the ESCO. Our objective when working with ESCOs is to be ‘agreeable’ in a sense. We want our partners to understand that our platform can be introduced and integrated into a given energy efficiency project at virtually any stage. The catch, however, is that our platform delivers greater for our partners the earlier they integrate it into their project. What we have found works best is when we’re in the building from the back-of-the-envelope analysis forward.”  

During the initial audit Datakwip has the ability to replace the process of manually harvesting data with data loggers. Perdue states, “We can either deploy IoT sensors or integrate with the existing BAS. This is essentially the data logger experience, except it’s live 24/7, and they (the customer or ESCO) can log in from anywhere they want to see what’s going on.” This feature allows targeted and specific recommendations for which systems should be prioritized for retrofit and can even identify simple cost-saving measures that can be taken without substantial renovation. 

Datakwip is a crucial part of retro-commissioning and often acts as an ECM themselves. Multiple studies have shown that retro-commissioning produces instant utility bill savings of 15 percent, and Datakwip has essentially digitally automated that entire process, generating long-term customer savings.

When asked how the Datakwip platform and its team interacts with ESCOs, Perdue responded with, “We find our most successful partners combine our platform with some managed service. The managed service becomes valuable because, once we find that pattern in the data, our partners take ownership of that issue. The ESCOs already have great management pipelines and can implement these opportunities quickly.” 

What the Future Holds

Perdue wants to see Datakwip in every building in the world. He believes that data is crucial to success in energy savings; when used correctly, one can see that the data has many cross-functional value points, which Datakwip has termed as “value stacking”. Most energy savings initiatives are currently introduced with each system being viewed as a standalone resource. This is primarily due to the lack of a comprehensive dashboard that allows an intelligent, automated review of each system’s performance. Datakwip makes that a reality.

For more information about Datakwip’s platform, visit their website at www.Datakwip.com.