Design Brief: Energy Management Systems

May 1, 2006
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Table of ContentsOn average, energy management systems save about 10 percent of overall annual building energy consumption.

An energy management system (EMS) is a computer that controls the operation of all major building systems, in order to run the building efficiently and effectively. An EMS can reduce a building's overall energy use by about 10 percent.

Today, nearly one-third of all U.S. buildings larger than 100,000-square feet have an EMS. Unfortunately, many of these systems are not saving as much energy as they could be saving. In one study, 5 out of 11 energy management systems were found to be "underachievers."

This Design Brief outlines several steps that building owners and designers can take to ensure that an EMS produces maximum benefits:

  • Take advantage of advanced control strategies that make good use of EMS computer power.
  • Specify the EMS clearly and accurately. (For instance, provide complete information about intended performance, control strategies, and project team responsibilities.)
  • Utilize the commissioning process. This process requires frequent reviews of all building systems (including the EMS) throughout design and construction, as well as performance tests before occupancy.
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