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Save Building Energy with an IT Retrofit, says Microsoft

It can prove more cost efficient and less resource-intensive to introduce software that harnesses and utilizes building systems already in use, than to carry out a full-blown physical retrofit, a Microsoft pilot test has found.

The software giant experimented with a “smart building” approach on 2.6 million-square-feet of its 14.9-million-square-foot campus at Redmond, Wash., according to Energy Smart Buildings a white paper published by consultants Accenture in which Microsoft’s experience is used as a case study.

Microsoft’s approach focused on three areas: Fault detection and diagnosis; alarm management and energy management.

Prior to the new system, the site’s facilities managers carried out periodic spot checks on equipment around campus. But with 30,000 pieces of equipment to check, in 118 buildings, a building would get checked on average just every five years.

Energy savings under the new system outweigh those made by improvements carried out during the physical spot checks, Microsoft’s research says. The company’s current annual cost savings from the project exceed $1 million, under its current planned roll-out the upgrade should pay for itself in 18 months.

In March, Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist for Microsoft, announced that the company was moving in on the market for energy management in commercial buildings.

The environmental strategist said the company was working with partners to figure out what software and services it could offer and how it could marry building management systems with predictive analysis tools.

Bernard’s take on the Redmond pilot test can be read at SustainableFacility.com.

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