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Thought Leadership from Sieben Energy Associates

Exploring the Future of Energy Data Analytics at SkyPosium


Together with 150 other members of the global SkySpark community, Syed Suhail and I spent two interesting and stimulating days at SkyPosium 2017. SkySpark is an increasingly popular analytics platform developed by the company SkyFoundry, whose vision is "SkySpark Everywhere." The SkySpark community includes value-added resellers and distributors, engineering consultants, software-as-a-service (SaaS) program developers, and some end users.

SkyPosium was convened at the Washington Dulles Airport Marriott in Dulles, Virginia. From 12 noon on Tuesday, November 14 through 4:30 pm on Wednesday, November 15, we learned about the expanding suite of tools and capabilities available to SkySpark users. Sieben Energy Associates, an early adopter of using large dataset analytics to optimize HVAC system performance, has been a SkySpark software user since 2010.

We learned that SkySpark is being used to monitor more than 13,000 buildings totaling more than a billion square feet. SkyFoundry is driving greater flexibility, reliability, and simplicity for SkySpark users. The platform has evolved to allow for a much more distributed architecture. The SkySpark founders who spoke at the event shared their observation about the future of energy data analytics: "The data is more valuable than the equipment."

The first day of SkyPosium featured a "bake-off" competition with five companies presenting how they employ ViewBuilder on their projects. ViewBuilder is SkySpark's enhanced reporting engine, which was designed with the goal of making data more meaningful to users (and their clients). In some sense, SkySpark's purpose is transitioning from "Find What Matters" to "See What Matters." ViewBuilder offers users the flexibility to create apps, views, and reports.

During the morning of the second day, in another "bake-off" competition, Syed Suhail presented an energy reduction measure he had identified using SkySpark as our example of "the most astounding findings" employing SkySpark. His presentation was very well-received by SkyPosium attendees. The particular energy reduction measure he discussed had saved a significant amount of electricity (and money) for The Franklin, a large multi-tenant office skyscraper in Chicago.

That afternoon, we learned about progress made to enhance SkySpark's machine-learning capabilities, which involve the anticipation of future equipment performance issues. Several presenters shared their machine-learning projects with the audience. The conversation became fairly geeky and in some ways was overwhelming to some without an IT background.

For me personally, it was heartening to meet and hear from so many people in our industry at SkyPosium—including companies like Sieben Energy Associates from all across the U.S. We saw other firms present projects bearing some similarity to ours. Although we are the only firm based in the greater Chicago area providing certain SkySpark-enabled services, on a nationwide basis, we're not alone in the way we assess buildings for improvement opportunities. Most if not all buildings—including newly constructed buildings—are, frankly, overloaded with energy performance issues. The general consensus of SkyPosium attendees is that the commissioning process for new buildings leaves a large gap between existing and optimal energy performance. In the hands of an expert, SkySpark helps close that gap.

Based on our experience, SkySpark offers a lot of value to building owners and managers when it is used effectively by a knowledgeable service provider. This new wave of energy data analytics software enables competent energy consultants to deliver exceptional operational efficiency for single buildings and multi-facility enterprises alike.

SkyPosium 2017 was the first of its kind, and in our view, it was a roaring success. We look forward to attending SkyPosium next year if SkyFoundry plans a similar event in 2018.

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