In a recent post, I wrote about how next-generation Energy Management Systems (which we call “EMS 2.0”) are enabling facilities management firms to be heroes to their clients by providing unprecedented visibility and automated analytics down to the equipment level, allowing service companies to respond more proactively to equipment issues. Similarly, EMS 2.0 can enable managed energy services through the remote visibility and control they provide.
There are several definitions of “managed energy services”, depending on the firm providing the service. Some firms define this as a very specific agreement in which an energy service provider takes over customer energy bill payment, guaranteeing that costs will be no higher than they have been historically, and financing energy efficiency upgrades through energy savings. Other firms define managed energy services in the more general sense: they manage energy consumption for their clients by taking over control of HVAC and other loads through remote automation and analytics.
Because of the availability of low-cost wireless sensors, coupled with ubiquitous internet connectivity and cloud-hosted software solutions, next-generation energy management systems can enable all types of managed energy services for quick service restaurants, convenience stores, and specialty retailers. Traditional EMS designed for large commercial properties were never viable for these types of facilities previously, because “EMS 1.0” are too complex and too costly to meet the needs of companies managing portfolios of small commercial properties. This is great news for quick service restaurants, convenience stores, and specialty retailers. This is also great news for companies that provide managed energy services. You might even say that EMS and managed services are two great things that go great together, like chocolate and peanut butter.
In most cases, the owners of chain restaurants, retail store chains, and other small facilities would much rather have their staff focus on their core business – making food, selling products, and serving customers– than managing thermostats and equipment. And managed energy service providers would love to get access to previously inaccessible markets. Enter EMS 2.0.
We’re seeing the “early adopters” – both end customers and service providers — recognize the new potential behind deploying EMS 2.0 in new markets such as quick service restaurants and succeeding with their programs, getting a head-start on their competitors. We’re also seeing new service models created to optimize the use of such technologies in companies managing large numbers of small commercial properties, a fundamentally different challenge than managing energy in large commercial properties. It will be interesting to see which companies emerge as the dominant players in providing managed energy services to these new markets. Stay tuned.