Want to make the most of AMI data today? Look to whole building benchmarking.

When AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) entered the scene in 2009, it provided a textbook innovation, making an existing process better. We needed the change – traditional metering relies heavily on manual monitoring and mechanical devices, while AMI enables granular customer data to be transmitted with incredible frequency. As the industry has evolved, AMI (and AMI data) has become a path towards use of smart meter connected devices, IoT applications, BTM programs and expansion of electrification, along with endless ways to analyze, visualize and interpret the data. No doubt, AMI is part of powering the grid of the future.

In theory, AMI should have completely revolutionized how we interact with energy usage. But the AMI revolution still has a long way to go. One big reason? The industry continues to overlook a main component of AMI data utilization (viewing it as supplementary rather than fundamental to our data-driven innovations): whole building benchmarking.

To support current and future innovations, we need to focus on getting data to the right places for productive assessment and pragmatic architecture. One way to make meaningful use of AMI data today is to leverage it at the building level. And that’s where AMI data and whole building benchmarking intersect.

Without mapping to the built world, our AMI programs miss a pivotal opportunity. And if we only rely on billing data in benchmarking, our picture of usage is incomplete. Imagine if you could see hourly interval data on a multi-tenant building consumption report? What if you could compare the weather at those intervals? With AMI-driven building consumption insights in hand, a multi-tenant building owner or manager’s awareness of relevant, post-benchmarking actions (retrofits, etc.) increases exponentially.

The first hurdle in unlocking AMI’s potential is managing the data – AMI creates a mind-boggling amount of information. If you’re thinking through how to make the most of AMI data, and wrangle it at scale, I suggest taking a close look at how your organization handles or supports benchmarking.

Depending on where you sit in the industry, there are a few straightforward ways to support benchmarking programs that can leverage AMI data. The following are my top recommendations for 3 key groups:

Regulators and Policy Makers (city, county, state): Whole building benchmarking is the foundation for many sustainability and carbon reduction policies – make it a priority.

Benchmarking is baselining a building for any purpose, so make it a tenet of sustainability and smart grid evolution plans – we can use this data to create better plans for reducing sector consumption. To shape meaningful policy, engage subject matter experts to investigate supporting benchmarking data at scale. Gather feedback, especially from utilities and coops of all sizes, and collaborate where possible.

Also confer with policy makers (in and out of state) who have tackled (or plan to) benchmarking. We need to build on successes AND learn from missteps to build an ecosystem with more consistency, less confusion, and fewer discrepancies location to location.

Utilities: Get the right people involved in the conversation and planning.

Assemble your subject matter experts and experienced benchmarking and/or data vendors. Find thought leaders in benchmarking. The initial time and cost of planning might seem daunting but if you want an effective benchmarking program (and not an expensive anecdote), it’s essential. As solutions evolve, leverage AMI data – with more buildings in the program, there’s going to be a trove of information. When you retain the building data point, you can apply it reliably and repeatedly in advantageous ways.

If you haven’t already, dedicate resources to whole building benchmarking – organizational SMEs can handle the early problems and search for technology solutions to address both compliance and long-term data value.

Vendors: Work with utilities to make the data manageable.

Utilities don’t need huge applications that can do and connect to everything. They need tools that dovetail. They need us (vendors) to create simple solutions for complex problems that enable them to provide reliable data and communication to their customers. We must work together to accomplish this goal. Let’s develop partnerships with each other and utilities to help make utility data accessible and manageable.

At Calico, we believe the future of AMI and whole building benchmarking are intertwined – we’re working on solutions today that will unlock the potential of both. If you’re interested to know more, contact Calico today.

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About the author...

As Calico Energy’s Product Manager, Juliana Smith takes varying energy data IT and business services to create a manageable, scalable product line capable of evolving to meet current and future Calico customer and partner needs. She brings 7+ years’ experience planning and implementing enterprise-level SaaS products and over 15 years as an expert working on customer-focused teams.

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