Category Archives: energy

McMaster University ties up with IBM Business Analytics to create energy-efficient buildings

Business analytics can play an increasingly important role in academia these days. Recently we heard about how business intelligence could be used to locate students in need of further assistance by mining data on lecture attendance and course performance. This week we see a press announcement detailing how Canada’s McMaster University is using business analytics to make its buildings greener.

So how exactly does the technology help reduce operating costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions?

On the one hand, a series of sensors, actuators and meters collect real-time data on energy consumption and temperature levels. When combined with dynamic-pricing data, this can give an accurate reading of exactly how much it costs to use a certain amount of energy at a certain time of day.

What can McMaster do with all this information?

  • Assess how much given building is costing them to run
  • Track energy usage and cost across the whole campus
  • Forecast what future costs and usage will be based on past performance
  • Simulate different environments and scenarios to understand more about energy usage and cost under different climate conditions
  • Optimize energy consumption based on the forecasts and simulations

Looking across the 60 campus buildings, the system will be able to identify under-performing buildings and the causes of energy inefficiencies. With the help of IBM Business Analytics technologies, McMaster will improve its decision making process and raise the bar for sustainable, cost-saving building management practices.

How CIPCO use IBM SPSS Statistics to improve energy supply

imageSPSS have put out a case study showing how the Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) switched from using Excel spreadsheets to IBM SPSS Statistics to optimize those decisions an energy utility provider has to make: capital planning, utility rate setting, power purchases, emissions tracking and more.

Given that energy requirements: supply, demand, price can shift on an hourly basis, tracking these across the 3,000 power nodes CIPCO provides is no trivial matter. As CIPCO’s Lisa Sell points out, "IBM SPSS Statistics gives us the power and flexibility to keep track of everything, with very little manual manipulation." The growing wind farm industry in Iowa adds even more uncertainty into the equation. Sell and her team use Statistics to analyze the dynamic pricing of wind-generated energy and its effect on the rest of the system.

In addition to forecasting and planning the IBM SPSS solution also helps CIPCO keep compliant with the annual power generation and cost reporting required by government agencies, as well as calculating the profitability of the various plants.

Read the full case study