Big Data, Big Savings: Environmentalism and High-Tech Collide

Data empowers business: it gives us the information we need to make the decisions that drive enterprises, industries, and economies. Big Data enables us to collect a massive amount of information (that we can store, search, share, and analyze) to bring us closer to the goal of finding trends that lead to smarter business decisions.  Big data has big impact on businesses, governments, and societies, and its impact is continuously growing.  And it gets even bigger than that.

Big Data in Energy Management

Big Data has long been used by governments to prevent fraud in healthcare, secure global supply chains, alleviate traffic congestion, and much more.[1] But Big Data’s benefits extend also to energy management.  Big Data can help us reduce energy consumption and drive down energy costs, increase energy efficiencies and optimize processes, and make big progress toward our global goal of sustainability.

Big time.

Big data is used in energy management to gain transparency, identify trends and opportunities for savings, and anticipate (and prevent) problems before they occur.

Can Big Data Deliver Big Savings?  

As it relates to energy costs: it can and it does. 

In fact, excess energy consumption, though costly, is not only a financial problem.  Wasted power is also wasting away our planet.  

For example: the real estate sector.  Real estate managers at large enterprises and government agencies already use big data for security applications, site selection, tracking costs, and managing projects. They can (and should) also effectively leverage Big Data for big energy reductions.[2] Facility managers can use big data to benchmark a building’s energy consumption against the data on their entire property portfolio, they can find opportunities to save energy through operational efficiencies and equipment maintenance.  

What kind of big savings are possible?  The state of Missouri uses big data in their building management to save over two percent annually for 10 years![3] 

Big data solutions mitigate wasteful energy consumption by lifting the opaque veil of obscurity and providing transparency into system-level energy usage.  Beyond increasing awareness into consumption, these energy management technologies provide analyses that reveal patterns and trends, compare outlets, and identify maintenance issues and retrofitting necessary to avoid major equipment failures.  

Enterprises and governments leverage the actionable insights these systems produce to optimize their energy use and reduce consumption throughout their operations, thereby reducing their energy bills by 30% or more. 

Big data of energy management leads to big savings of energy. 

Selling Sustainability

Financial savings, of course, should be enough to motivate any organization to adopt energy efficiency solutions.  But “flexing your power” is about more than just dollars and cents.  Environmentalism and capitalism are no longer mutually exclusive: they are now mutually profitable. 

Optimizing energy consumption saves money. Profits increase. 

Integrating corporate or government sustainability objectives into marketing strategies builds brand reputation; evangelizing it internally builds employee loyalty. Enhanced brand reputation and increased employee loyalty increase sales. Profits increase further. 

Selling sustainability is a two-fold proposition. Leading the effort requires success on both fronts. The benefits of a sustainability program must be sold internally to company stakeholders and externally to customers. 

Big data findings, once again, to the rescue.

To sell sustainability inside an organization is not just to sell it to the C-suite, thought their buy-in is critical to get the program started. Once goals are in place, sustainability requires the power of the masses. Beth Shiroishi, VP of Sustainability & Philanthropy at AT&T, explains, "I think of myself and my team as chameleons. Being able to think and communicate in the same fashion as a business unit we're working with is, for me, the most important skill set needed to be successful." By using the information gathered by big data, statistics can empower the people.

Selling sustainability to customers is about branding philosophy. Here, too, the insights of big data deliver big results. “Our company reduced its carbon footprint by 5% last year” builds a brand that people can trust . . . one they happily invest in and do business with. 

High Tech Environmentalism

Imagining an espresso-drinking, designer-jeans-wearing, sports-car-driving techie getting together with a Chai-sipping, hemp-clad, bird-watching environmentalist seems comical, but that is precisely what big data has done.  By simultaneously forwarding the goals of sustainability and profitability, big data has matched the unmatchable and achieved sustainable profits and profitable sustainability.

About the Author

Jon Rabinowitz is Senior Director of Marketing at Panoramic Power, a leading provider of energy management solutions for retail business around the world. In this role he advocates on the use of sensor energy monitoring technology to make proactive operational decisions and reduce energy costs. 

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Tags: Big, Data, Energy, Management


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