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The world changed abruptly in 2020 with the arrival of a global pandemic. As companies quickly sought to safeguard people and stabilize operations, conserving cash became a necessary and immediate priority. Retailers shored up liquidity through rent deferrals and lines of credit in response to store closures and revenue constraints, creating large bills coming due with interest. Grocers spent billions on pandemic-related expenses to meet consumer demands and operate safely. According to recent McKinsey & Company insights, 98% of the world’s largest companies have announced capital budget reductions, and companies across all sectors have made cuts in capital expenditures ranging from 10-80%.1 These CapEx spending halts are expected to continue at least for the short or mid-term.

Over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, commercial building owners and operators face increased pressure to make progress toward energy reduction and sustainability goals while having to defer CapEx projects like lighting retrofits, HVAC equipment upgrades, and building automation system (BAS) installations to the next fiscal year. Given this challenging dichotomy, energy and sustainability teams need to find new approaches to meet their 2021 objectives while preserving their company’s balance sheet.

Adaptability is key.

From restaurants and retail chains to office buildings and distribution centers, building usage has not correlated with original design conditions since the start of the pandemic. We are still amidst a continually changing landscape where businesses are operating at a “new normal” of reduced occupancy levels and shortened business hours, making it challenging to optimize energy efficiency. Facility and energy managers continue to be tasked with reducing energy use, maintaining building comfort, and supporting sustainability initiatives, while confronting significant cuts to operating and capital budgets.

Business owners and operators are now realizing they were not agile enough in their HVAC operations to respond efficiently to lockdown measures or other deviations in facility utilization. Conducting business as usual is no longer an option, especially with reductions and fluctuations in building occupancy.

While several factors influence the thermal heat load of a building, occupancy can dominate energy demands internally. This is especially true for densely populated facilities like office buildings or gyms. The level of a person’s activity and their use of equipment combine to add heat to an environment. Facility operators and energy managers understand this causal relationship but lack the resources and budgets to hit these and other moving targets concerning energy efficiency, facility optimization, and occupant comfort.

Fortunately, advances in technology and services have brought forward new offerings that are game-changers in delivering energy efficiency in recent years. We’re seeing this today with Turntide, a visionary manufacturer that marries its patented switch reluctance motor with computing technology to produce the world’s most efficient motor system. Honeywell Forge is leading the digital transformation charge. The Enterprise Management Performance Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) measures, optimizes, and automates operations as an open, extensible offering designed to work across any enterprise. Targeting the largest electricity in consumer in commercial buildings, Encycle’s Swarm Logic® HVAC optimization technology unlocks new levels of energy savings for large multi-site companies across North America.

Doing more with less is entirely possible for businesses willing to embrace newer, IoT-enabled technologies powered by data gathering and artificial intelligence (AI).

The right moves now can unlock impactful savings with a quick return.

Encycle’s unique, data-driven Swarm Logic energy management technology is a prime example of how multi-site companies can achieve significant energy reductions without capital investment. The SaaS solution uses a subscription-based fee model that removes financial barriers and saves typical Encycle customers 10%-20% on HVAC-related electric consumption and spend.

Swarm Logic was developed by Encycle to dynamically synchronize HVAC rooftop units (RTU) control decisions, enabling RTUs to operate most efficiently by responding in real time to changing conditions such as outdoor temperature and building occupancy levels. The multi-patented technology creates dynamic models for each building’s thermal load profile and RTU performance. With Swarm Logic, RTUs become part of an IoT-based closed-loop system that coordinates their activity and distributes energy consumption more logically among the individual RTUs. The enterprise-wide solution operates quietly in the background, requiring no human interaction to maintain or monitor its actions.

Swarm Logic also addresses many other building owner and operator objectives:

  • Swarm Logic reduces energy costs without impacting comfort
  • Delivers 2X to 5X return on program fees almost immediately after deployment
  • The robust analytics and reporting platform provides insights into HVAC equipment performance, shifting maintenance activities from reactive to proactive
  • Supports sustainability goals by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through improved energy efficiency
  • Data gathering and AI capabilities respond efficiently and remotely to shifts in energy usage and demand patterns
  • Hands-free, autonomous operation frees facility management teams to focus on higher value-add activities
  • Minimizes risk of technology obsolescence

Today’s energy efficiency strategies don’t have to center on capital-intensive projects. Measurable savings opportunities exist with IoT-based approaches that overcome upfront financial barriers and require no extra work from facility personnel. To learn more about Encycle’s Swarm Logic HVAC energy-saving technology, give us a call at 1-855-857-4031.

Contributing author: Chris Hensley, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Encycle Corporation

1 Brinded, Tom, et al. “Resetting Capital Spending in the Wake of COVID-19.” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 20 Oct. 2020, www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/resetting-capital-spending-in-the-wake-of-covid-19.

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