Looking at software that can help you save on energy consumption

12 January 2012 | Michele Bedford Thistle, Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

So far in our Saving Governments Money blog series we've looked at cloud computing for cost savings and efficiency, as well as unified communications, and the cost savings and productivity benefits they offer. Today, I'd like to spend some time talking about energy savings. Specifically, how your organization can save on its energy consumption-and spending-by making your buildings more energy smart.

We're not talking about physical retrofitting like installing solar panels or building more efficient heating and cooling systems. These are great strategies, but they can be capital-intensive and often involve a lengthy retrofitting process. For our post today, we're talking about low-overhead, non-physical ways to produce quick energy and cost-savings for your organization- through the use of data analytics.

Back in October, the Microsoft on Government blog featured a Q&A with Microsoft's Josh Henretig to discuss a groundbreaking smart building program that our company is piloting at our campus in Redmond, Washington. The pilot, which you can read about in our white paper, took our existing energy management system for the entire Redmond campus and updated it with a holistic data analytics solution to improve the system's performance and energy efficiency.

The result

Today, this project is estimated to be saving our company $1 million annually in energy costs, while at the same time reducing emissions-all without having to undertake any physical retrofitting of our existing buildings. It's an outcome that's been getting a lot of attention lately. In fact, Businessweek's Rachael King recently featured our pilot program, which you can read more about here.

I believe that this pilot demonstrates the potential for all organizations, including government agencies, to realize big savings without large capital investment by adopting the latest analytics technologies to better manage their real estate portfolios.

It's an opportunity that I believe remains largely untapped. Despite its proven effectiveness, very few building owners and operators have yet to implement data-driven optimizations to reduce their energy consumption. It may be the case that your buildings are equipped with hundreds of sensors and controls, which is great, but your organization may not be using this data holistically to realize its true energy-saving potential. If you haven't already, perhaps it's time to take a second look.

Looking at the bigger picture, smarter buildings along with an emerging class of "smart grid" technologies and data analytics are the foundation for smarter cities. You can learn how organizations are leveraging all of these technologies together to produce smarter cities in our recent, aptly-named blog post, "Making Cities Energy Smart."

If you'd like to learn more about our other cost saving strategies, please visit our dedicated website for tips on how your organization can maximize its IT infrastructure and drive cost reductions. Also, be sure to stop by again soon for our next installment in the series!

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me know @Microsoft_Gov. Have a question for the author? Please e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Michele Bedford Thistle
Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

About the Author

Michele Bedford Thistle | Business Manager, Government, National Security, and International Organizations, Worldwide Public Sector

Michele is focused on sharing stories from government customers creating real impact for citizens, employees, economies, and students. She joined the worldwide team from Microsoft Canada, where she was also marketing lead for several technology start-ups.