Have you heard the phrase ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure?’ This is true for your data center, and having an energy management system in place with your hands on the reigns gives you a good means to measure and manage. An energy management system (EMS) is to let you see where your energy is going as well as to help control and ultimately optimize the performance of the many seemingly disparate systems on your site.
How is this different from the controls systems? An EMS is more comprehensive as it looks into the energy use for the many systems and also using the utility energy use. It can be broken down into certain sectors to help separate groups take more responsibility for their energy utilization.
A good EMS will take you beyond kWh and natural gas to look at your fuel oil and water consumption, sewer discharge costs, and even to manage your vehicle fleet consumption. It can be used to do a number of great things for your data center, including: performance bench-marking; emissions reporting; site-wide power quality; public kiosks; and customized reporting of any of the information it receives. That EMS might be so good that you’d like to expand it across your enterprise – and it would be able to. A not-so-good EMS might do one or two things very well, but it may not be robust enough to cover the many facets of your business.
The EMS is a software package and it has limitations. If you do not have the meters and reliable utilities to feed your system you cannot expect to receive accurate results, let alone trend future energy costs. Implementing an EMS should be as important as selecting the system to use. Finding the gaps in your energy measuring can be found and closed and discrepancies between your meters and utilities can be resolved as you work to bring the EMS online. The implementation process will let you see how to manage the EMS and how you expect to do reporting and future trending.
The EMS can help you budget your energy needs year to year using month to month results. The energy forecast can be normalized for weather conditions and aid in giving justifiable reasons energy use. While the software can do all of this and plenty more, it cannot mitigate the energy use – it can only point the way to efficiency. It is still the responsibility of the user to understand the data, step in, and change operating methods and/or behavior.