Energy Management System

A building management system (BMS) is a software and hardware-based computerized system that monitors and/or control’s the building’s energy, water and/or safety systems, including but not limited to heat, air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, lighting, and security systems.

A building management system is a computerized program that uses both software and hardware to monitor and/or control the building’s energy use, water use, and/or fire prevention or security systems. It can integrate systems like HVAC, plumbing, and safety.

The BMS may create significant energy or water savings for the building, because it can either create automatic feedback loops that decrease system inefficiencies, or it can help a facilities manager to personally target and correct those inefficiencies. Their monitoring and reporting capabilities allow the building owner or manager to analyze the building’s energy or water data and find behavioral solutions for occupants for conservation.

Some systems have easily accessible occupant controls that can increase productivity and satisfaction.

A home energy management system is essentially a BMS that is designed for residences. When installed, it can monitor and/or control the home’s energy use.

These systems may allow the user to create automated controls or adjust the system manually from a control panel, smartphone, computer or tablet. Some systems allow the occupant to monitor the building’s energy use and track progress.

Examples of home energy management systems include:

1. Savant Smart Energy

Smart Energy, a whole-home platform from Smart Energy, has a range of automated responses and controllable features, which users can access either at home or remotely via Apple devices, including iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches.

The system automatically changes the thermostat’s temperature based on the current weather conditions, and can automatically adjust the lighting based on the amount of sunlight and occupation sensors. It will also shut window shades in warmer weather to save energy.

2. GE Nucleus

General Electric's home energy management system, the Nucleus, collects energy use information from either outlets or smart meters and reports it on a centralized dashboard. The dashboard, which reports energy usage in kilowatt hours and estimated cost, can be viewed from a personal computer or iPhone app. It allows the user to monitor their energy use so that they can make changes to save energy over time. The consumer can even take advantage of demand response, which is using more energy during the utility’s off-peak times so that they are charged lower electricity rates.

The Nucleus can be plugged into an electrical outlet, or can wirelessly communicate with smart meters via ZigBee and Wifi radios. Alternatively, it can collect information from General Electric’s Brillion line of appliances.

3. Control4 Home Control

The Control4 is a home control platform that manages the building’s systems, including the thermostat, TV, security, music, lighting, and more. The owner can use the Control4 from wall-mounted control panels, the television, a smartphone, or a tablet. It can automatically adjust the temperature, control the lights, or pull or draw shades based on consumer inputs. It also tracks and monitors energy use to give the owner feedback.

4. Lowe's Iris

Lowes recently released the Iris, the company’s first smart home product. Created in partnership with AlertMe, the Iris comes in three versions, all which come with the Iris “Hub”. The Hub is a cloud-based system that syncs with computers and smartphones so that the user can control their energy or security systems inside or outside of their home. The Iris products also come with a free basic monitoring program, which tracks the home’s energy use or security system and can be accessed remotely from computers or smartphones. It gives the customer alerts and remote control over the systems. With the Premium monitoring service ($9.99), the customers can use “Iris Magic”, which allows them to program their home in “vacation” and other modes.

The three available systems are:

• Safe & Secure, $179: This home security system uses motion sensors to alert the homeowner when events occur at the home.

• Comfort & Control, $179: This is a home automation kit for energy conservation. It includes a smart thermostat and smart plug, which sync with the Hub for remote device and appliance control.

• Smart Kit, $299: A combination of the Safe & Secure and Comfort & Control products for both security and energy control.

All products can be installed by the homeowner and do not require a professional installation.

Home Energy Management Systems and LEED for Homes

Home energy management systems can currently contribute to the Innovation in Design category in LEED for Homes. While not addressed in the rating system, USGBC has created a form specifically for energy management and monitoring systems (seemingly because of high demand). The system can contribute 1-2 points, depending on whether it can provide automated control, monitoring, or both.

According to the form, 1 point will be awarded if the home has "an energy management system that provides the occupant automated control over various loads in the home". It will also receive 1 point if it "provides the occupant with clear and regular feedback on their energy and/or resource usage". It will receive 2 points for achieving both.

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