Energy efficiency with artificial intelligence and Internet of Things

Dubai building demonstrates how advanced analytics and sensing can reduce energy consumption
Published: Thu 24 May 2018

Buildings are major consumers of electricity accounting for almost one-third of energy consumption globally. Hence, improved energy efficiency in buildings is key to meeting the carbon reduction targets demanded by the COP21 Paris Agreement.

So far, however, this isn’t happening. According to the International Energy Agency, while there have been marginal improvements, these have been offset by the growth in building space.

Recognising the challenge, a growing number of countries have policies in place to improve building energy performance. And new technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) are demonstrably making these easier to achieve.

Fig.1 Year-on-year energy Consumption at Al Thuraya Tower 1 (EDGE Zeus deployed August 2017)

Improving building energy efficiency

As an example, consider the case of Al Thuraya Tower 1, in Dubai Media City.

As part of the Emirates NBD Asset Management real estate investment trust (ENBD REIT) strategy to adopt green initiatives, the company engaged energy management solution provider EP&T Global to deploy its EDGE Zeus technology in the 28-floor 18,000m2 building.

Comprising IoT sensors collecting data in real time, big data analytics and artificial intelligence, the solution has identified over 30 energy savings opportunities worth US$68,000 (AED250,000) and reduced energy consumption by 7%, according to a statement (See figure 1).

Through the realisation of additional energy saving opportunities, this project is expected to deliver a return on investment of 30-40%.

“Key benefits to this project will include a projected return on investment of up to 40%, as well as significant greenhouse gas emissions reduction, which is an increasingly important objective for ENBD REIT as it works to reduce the carbon footprint of its portfolio,” says Anthony Taylor, Head of Real Estate at Emirates NBD Asset Management. “At the same time, commercial tenants at Al Thuraya Tower 1 will enjoy greater levels of comfort.”

Keith Gunaratne, Founder and Managing Director of EP&T Global, comments that a key ingredient to the success of the project is “the integrated approach” with the asset and facilities management teams, bringing owners, contractors and service providers together to maximise the operational efficiency of the building and enhance comfort conditions for occupiers.

ENBD REIT has indicated that it will now look to apply similar initiatives across its AED1.7bn (US$460m) property portfolio over time. Recent acquisitions include The Edge in Dubai Internet City and the Souq Extra Retail Centre in Dubai Silicon Oasis.

Fig. 2 Abnormal chiller load illustrated

Power of machine learning

EP&T Global boasts deployments of its technology in locations in Europe, Africa, Asia and its native Australia, in addition to the Middle East. In cases presented, average energy reductions are recorded as high as 44% with several in the 30s.

The company also presents a graphical example of the power of machine learning and AI (See figure 2). The EDGE Zeus technology autonomously compares energy data readings against those taken from days of similar temperature and humidity. Through similar temperature analytics, the technology identified an abnormal 80kW increase in the load of a chiller versus a comparable temperature day.

When notified, the client discovered the cause to be a faulty pressure sensor which was triggering the chiller to draw higher current. The pressure sensor on the chiller was replaced, resulting in potential saving over £2,000 over the course of a month.