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By Candice Rogers, President, Paladin, Inc.

This month, we mark ten years since the Commonwealth of Kentucky turned a spotlight on how taxpayer dollars were being spent building and operating state-owned facilities. Before House Bill 2 and its High Performance Building Standards were implemented, our state knew next to nothing about how our publicly funded buildings were consuming electric, gas, and water. Thanks to that visionary legislation, we now have access to excellent information about performance that can be retrieved with a couple of keystrokes at the state’s energy dashboard.

While putting energy data in a publicly accessible location would seem like a relatively straightforward task, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, the Commonwealth Energy Management and Control System (affectionately called CEMCS) is a cross-discipline collision of information from IT, data analysis, energy management, engineering, project management, finance, and facilities management professionals. Weaving the diverse information from each into a coherent dashboard has been a mammoth task, for which Kentucky has received numerous awards for innovation and persistence from the United States Department of Energy. The most recent award was in 2017 from the Better Buildings Smart Energy Analytics Campaign for the size of their most recent implementation.

Since the inception of CEMCS, our company has worked with the rapidly expanding database in a variety of roles, allowing us to see it from multiple perspectives. This exposure has not only helped us leverage the data, it has made us appreciate the complex and comprehensive nature of CEMCS. To help you use it better, here are a few points of clarification about what CEMCS really is and how it can help you:

  • CEMCS is a data mining warehouse. As warehouses go, this one is huge – the sheer volume of information stored inside CEMCS is amazing. Buildings in CEMCS are sorted into multiple levels (called Tiers) according to the amount and complexity of their data. Some buildings may only report utility consumption while others report a full array of building automation system data. CEMCS’s role is to receive the information, sort it into the right building, and perform a predefined set of calculations to fuel data analysis.
  • CEMCS can’t operate or modify building behaviors. A common misconception is that CEMCS can “do something” to a building. After all, CEMCS can see that a building schedule is off so it could certainly reinstate that schedule, right? While that would be interesting, CEMCS is exclusively a reporting tool. Any system modifications are done at the building automation system layer of building controls.
  • CEMCS has the ability to automatically import monthly energy consumption data. If a utility offers EDI (electronic data interchange), then CEMCS can and does accept that data to allow the building utility consumption to be as up to date as the most recent bill. There are a handful of large utilities in Kentucky supporting this effort, but there are many municipal and non-EDI utilities that require manual bill entry by a defined party.
  • CEMCS is maintained by a host of individuals. There are many cooks in the CEMCS kitchen, working to keep the data flowing and the energy savings identified. The head chef is the Division of Facility Efficiency (DFE), which not only maintains CEMCS function, but also mines outputs from CEMCS to reduce energy consumption. DFE collaborates with multiple other Using Agencies as they fulfill their distinct role in the system. Ranging from the Department of Juvenile Justice and Kentucky Fairgrounds to KCTCS, these entities keep their data up to date. Behind the scenes, the Commonwealth Office of Technology keeps the data flow secure and steady while Kentucky utility providers furnish consumption and cost data. Interval Data Systems created the CEMCS software-as-a-service and provides initial analysis of buildings. Fulfillment companies – like Paladin – analyze data and help develop projects.

After ten years, Kentucky taxpayers are benefiting from this visionary program to the tune of $5.8 million dollars saved. If you’re not reaping the benefits from this treasure trove of useful information, it’s time to get up to speed and help make the next ten years even better across the Commonwealth.