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AI-Enabled Smart Meters Are Reshaping Energy Efficiency

Data access barriers are disappearing, thanks to asset-level meters driven by AI.

To quote Peter Drucker, "You can't manage what you can't measure." Understanding current energy consumption baselines is the first step towards meeting corporate sustainability goals. Yet, many companies face challenges in identifying and addressing energy waste, often due to factors such as old buildings with outdated equipment or a lack of an equipment upgrade strategy. 

I recently spoke with a colleague who manages a portfolio of 250 facilities across the country. Her team works tirelessly to aggregate utility data from 140 utility companies. The sheer volume of data they have to manually collect, cleanse, and parse through is enormous. Remarkably, this covers only 70% of their portfolio, leaving room for an undesirable margin of error. A miscalculation can translate into significant investor risk, as a recent PWC study suggests that 49% of investors are willing to divest from companies not taking sufficient ESG action.

Fortunately, recent innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) are simplifying the process of energy monitoring and action. I expect that Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) companies using smart sensors will start to offer more AI-integrated solutions.


Smart meters as an energy efficiency solution

Smart meters offer granular level data that can transform the way we understand and manage energy consumption. These meters collect building-specific energy data, even at the asset level. They can capture data from various sources such as rooftop HVAC units, central plants, and lighting systems. The result? A comprehensive view that allows you to establish sustainability baselines, pinpoint energy waste, monitor performance, and better comprehend the economic and environmental costs of equipment ownership. Combine these sensors with AI, and we are looking at a game-changing combo.


Gamechanger #1: Streamlined ESG reporting

Aggregating large data sets, ensuring data integrity, and reporting data consistently across numerous frameworks can be challenging. For the Fortune 500 companies with sustainability pledges and those sitting on the sidelines, streamlined ESG reporting powered by AI will be a game-changer. AI can simplify the process by aggregating building data and generating reports based on a customer's chosen ESG reporting standards. This not only ensures compliance with sustainability regulations but also makes reporting more efficient and accurate.

Gamechanger #2: Dynamic energy management

Imagine buildings that adapt to their occupants, optimizing energy usage instead of the other way around. AI-powered energy management systems can analyze dynamic variables such as occupancy, weather, and asset performance in a cost-effective and user-friendly manner. With smart meter sensors and adaptive controls, buildings can adjust heating, cooling, and lighting systems in real-time, reducing energy waste and enhancing comfort. Buildings should soon be capable of optimizing their performance at all times.

Gamechanger #3: Predictive Maintenance & Opportunity Identification

When equipment fails, it can be cataclysmic. Beyond the servicing or replacement costs, mechanical failure can result in millions of dollars in lost operational output. But what if you knew days, weeks, or even months in advance that the equipment you rely on will cause significant problems? 

“Predictive maintenance powered by AI can identify equipment issues before they become major problems, reducing operational disruptions and the need for emergency repairs.”

Leveraging AI to monitor building and equipment performance continuously will also be foundational for identifying energy and emission savings opportunities. AI can monitor equipment and present operational improvement solutions and project recommendations that can bolster sustainability and economic benefits from reducing energy waste. 


AI is a competitive advantage for energy management

If we're going to solve the climate crisis, we need simple solutions for companies to deploy. And those solutions must provide financial, environmental, and performance benefits. We have the technology today to deliver on this promise, and it's already benefiting customers with 50% reductions in ESG reporting costs and 15% cost reductions in business operations. 

All of this goes to say that the synergy between AI and smart meters is poised to revolutionize how we manage and meet our energy goals. The real-time insights, predictive capabilities, and automated optimization offered by this combination empower individuals and organizations to take control of their energy consumption. By doing so, we not only reduce costs but also contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly future. As AI technology continues to advance and smart meters become more widespread, the possibilities for energy efficiency are limitless. Learn how your organization can use AI right now to enable better decision making.

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