Data analysis: taking behaviour change to the ‘next level’

EXCLUSIVE: Data analysis can be an integral method to ignite energy-conscious behaviour change among staff, with energy management company SSE Enterprise claiming that the Internet of Things (IoT) could revolutionise how companies interact with sustainability number-crunching.

Speaking to edie ahead of his appearance at edie Live next month (scroll down for details), SSE Enterprise’s energy analytics manager Paul Keigher explained that translating the vast amounts of energy-related data into a streamlined and understandable message can create key changes among staff that ensure that basic-level energy management is controlled on the ground.

“Data is one of the most important, if not the most important thing you can utilise,” Keigher said. “It’s both fundamental and core to a successful business. If you can piece the data together in the right way you can change behaviour, which is absolutely key to getting all of your systems to work.

“By showing someone the impact of flicking switches and transforming it into a message that they understand – whether through financial or product comparisons – you’ll create the biggest change in behaviour.

“But you have to present it in a way that the common person, who isn’t trained to account for energy, can understand.”

SSE Enterprise attempts to give businesses the relevant data in a streamlined manner – ideally consisting of just one page of relevant data – before arranging face-to-face meetings to address potential solutions and reductions. This method reduces the chances of a company getting “lost among the data”, allowing it to focus on company-wide interaction instead.

Keigher noted that hardware and software that is introduced by businesses to streamline energy management can often be negated by a basic lack of understanding and interest from staff.

To combat this, Keigher said that making the data interactive, either through reports, the increasing popular league table system, or even gamification, can shift perceptions on energy use and make it a central thought across the entirety of a company’s staff.

To help businesses understand exactly where energy is being lost, Keigher hopes to couple condensed reports – which are often followed by more detailed analysis – with a new disaggregation system, which uses a central software platform to identify what aspects and devices are consuming energy and what time they are switched on.

Through this system, businesses can pinpoint the exact time that a device begins to use energy and whether it was manually switched on by staff or automatically programmed to turn on. Once the data has been collected, SSE Enterprise can then inform businesses of potential tweaks to operating systems and the effect that it could have on energy bills.

“The news disaggregation system we’re working on is about taking single data sources and examining what’s being switched off,” Keigher said. “We then strip this backwards and push it into software algorithm to overcome some big barriers.

“It helps customers understand how their energy is being used by individuals, meters and devices. It will probably be one of the big disruptive introductions to the market within the next 18 months.”

Internet of Things

Keigher is so impressed with the disaggregation system that he is anticipating it to replace current building management systems altogether, as part of the ongoing growth of the IoT.

SSE Enterprise is currently using an ‘Energy ICT’ model which incorporates some of the ideologies and innovations that appear in the IoT concept. Used in the management system for Glasgow City Council, and subsequently shortlisted for a hat-trick of awards, Energy ICT works to systematically power-down IP connected devices to preserve energy consumption.

Formed in partnership with networking company Cisco, Energy ICT proactively manages hardware – including laptops, servers and routers – to monitor power use, and control operational times of unused equipment. By measuring energy use the system can actually offer a procurement process based on more efficient IT devices.

The Energy ICT system has just finished a nation-wide roll-out and is an early example of how connectivity can really drive energy management. Keigher believes that, as innovation in the IoT sector continues to boom, building management systems could actually soon be phased out and replaced with more advanced models.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if, over the next five to 10 years, building management systems disappear entirely because it will all be driven by IoT. There are millions of smart devices which you can manage and you won’t need the software. It’s something we’re looking at for the next level of innovation.”

The relationship between energy use and behaviour change is one of the least-transparent issues facing businesses looking to accelerate their sustainability journey. While storytelling is a still a key part of bridging the gap between data and staff behaviour, edie last week called on the expertise of a ‘carbon psychologist’ to bring you 10 innovative, non-technical methods to change behaviours, improve energy efficiency and reduce consumption.

Paul Keigher at edie Live

Paul Keigher will be speaking at the Energy Efficiency Theatre at edie Live in May, discussing the potential of data analysis, alongside associates from Sainsbury’s, EEVS, and Next Control Systems.

If you manage your company’s energy, sustainability, environmental or corporate responsibility, then two days at edie Live will give you a free pass to all the learning, peer-to-peer networking, innovative suppliers and inspiration you need to drive sustainability through your organisation.

View the full edie Live agenda and register to attend for free here.

Matt Mace

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