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logoShaping Tomorrow's Built Environment Today

Driving Energy Savings with Data

By Jason Volz, P.E., Member ASHRAE; Matt Branham, P.E., Associate Member ASHRAE; Braydi McPherson-Hathaway, Associate Member ASHRAE; Ashley Eimers

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©2022 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 64, no. 4, April 2022.

About the Authors
Jason Volz, P.E., and Matt Branham, P.E., are project managers and partners at CMTA in Louisville, Ky., in the Energy Solutions performance contracting group. Braydi McPherson-Hathaway is a project manager at CMTA in Media, Pa. Ashley Eimers is a mechanical engineer at CMTA in Louisville, Ky.

A Kentucky college system turned its building data into results. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System now has more energy-efficient systems, better maintained facilities, and—most importantly—a better learning environment.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) encompasses 16 colleges located throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In 2015, KCTCS released a request for proposal for a guaranteed energy savings contract (GESC). The goals were to reduce energy and water consumption, resolve ongoing mechanical system issues and replace obsolete equipment, enhance efficiency through the building automation system (BAS) and integrate the BAS into a state managed building data analytics platform. The Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet helped develop and manages their own platform called the Commonwealth Energy Management and Controls Systems (CEMCS). 

CEMCS is a web-based energy tracking platform for building data analysis ( The platform was created to document the progress of energy reduction goals within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Additionally, CEMCS is a data acquisition tool that polls trend data from all of KCTCS’s modern BAS systems.

By pairing this data with a third-party commissioning service, this data has been leveraged to capture additional energy savings, bridging the gap between data acquisition and action. Those energy savings are detailed in the campus energy use intensity reductions shown in Figure 1.

To effectively use the data available in the building analytics platform, the project lead offered a third-party continual commissioning service to KCTCS in the years following the GESC. This service includes: BAS data review of HVAC system performance and occupancy schedules; recommending a course of action for identified mechanical and BAS deficiencies; and, finally, implementing those actions. This process of turning data into action has been provided to eight colleges to date: Ashland (ACTC), Bluegrass (BCTC), Jefferson (JCTC), Elizabethtown (ECTC), Big Sandy (BSCTC), Maysville (MCTC), Somerset (SCC), and Southcentral (SKYCTC).

Energy Efficiency

Each KCTCS college went through an extensive energy project before the continual commissioning program began. All facilities were upgraded with LED lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures were installed, HVAC systems were replaced, new DDC controls systems were installed and, finally, each BAS was integrated into the CEMCS data platform.

Not only did each college energy use intensity numbers decrease after the energy project’s implementation, these numbers continued to decrease in the years following. This is due to the continual commissioning provided in the CEMCS Support Services. The CEMCS data platform gave project engineers comprehensive access to trend data of the BAS points, occupancy sensors and utility meters.

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