An commercial electrician performing an electrical load analysis in Charlotte

What is a Commercial Energy Analysis?

A commercial energy analysis, AKA an electrical load analysis, is like a pre-flight checklist where trained, professional airline mechanic checks every part of the plane to ensure flight-worthy. In addition, these checklists determine where possible problem areas are developing that may need to be addressed soon.

A commercial energy analysis studies your building’s energy requirements and how that energy is used to see what improvements can be made to improve your energy efficiency, resulting in energy savings. For the same reasons that you want a trained and qualified airliner mechanic to be reviewing your plane’s operations, you want to make sure that your commercial energy analysis is performed by an accredited professional from organizations such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), or the Building Performance Institute (BPI).

An commercial electrician performing an electrical load analysis in Charlotte

You can find DIY commercial energy audit instructions online, but why would you do it? It may save you some money in the short term, but why? A certified pro has all the knowledge, training, and specialized tools necessary to conduct comprehensive and accurate testing of your building’s energy equipment.

Level 1 Commercial Energy Analysis

ASHRAE has identified and categorized three levels of commercial energy audits that can be performed for your company. The Level I audit is a high-level energy survey that consists of a review of the company’s utility bills and a brief visual inspection of energy-consuming equipment within the company buildings. The objective of a Level I Energy Audit is to deliver a simple overview of the energy-saving changes for the building using low-cost or no-cost measures. The suggested actions may include educating employees on energy conservation, making minor upgrades to lighting or thermostat controls, or recommending a more comprehensive commercial energy analysis (a Level II or Level III energy analysis).

Level II Commercial Energy Analysis

The Level II Commercial Energy Analysis digs in deeper within the company’s facilities and equipment, looking at its use, when it is used, how it is used, and more. Typically this also includes comprehensive interviews of owners and managers as well as the equipment operators, maintenance staff, and other front-line workers to learn how the building operates, identify problem areas, and solidify the goals of the analysis.

The energy analysis auditor studies the business’s electricity and natural gas consumption to see where opportunities for savings exist. Additionally, the auditor will review utility rates for electricity and natural gas to see if switching to another energy plan or provider would be cheaper.

In addition, the commercial energy analysis auditor closely examines all equipment within the business that uses energy. This includes heating, cooling, lighting, air circulation, and other specialty systems. The auditor looks at the equipment’s age, size, condition, technology, and how it operates.

Level II Commercial Energy Analyses often include an in-depth infrared scan to see where heat escapes from the building(s) to determine if better insulation or other infrastructure upgrades are needed. Once the audit has been completed, the auditor typically delivers a comprehensive report to the company’s management and staff about the findings. This includes recommendations for new energy efficiency measures, system control changes, operation, procedural changes, and potential capital upgrades. These recommendations also include implementation costs and how long it will take the company to recoup its new equipment/processes investment before it’s paid back.

Level III Commercial Energy Analysis

A Level III Commercial Energy Analysis is sometimes known as an investment-grade energy analysis because it provides more details about the performance, costs, and benefits of implementing the recommendations described in the Level II analysis. Level III analyses typically use a computer model to simulate how a building reacts to changes in its energy systems or modifications to its structure. This is possible due to more detailed data collection over weeks or even months to track equipment operation such as pumps and motors, temperature, humidity, lighting, and more. The goal is to construct the computer model to react just like the actual buildings act so that simulated changes within the model will work with the real building and deliver accurate data.

Another significant component of a Level III analysis is the use of benchmarking to compare the energy use of your building with other buildings that have similar characteristics. This often involves using Portfolio Manager, a benchmarking tool used by the federal government’s Energy Star program. This program rates your company’s buildings on a scale of 1 to 100. A building scores a rating of 50; for example, it’s typical of similar facilities in terms of energy efficiency. A rating of 25 means your building requires significant improvements and measures to bring it up to the standards of other similar structures out there.

A commercial energy analysis will lead to savings in your monthly energy bills, no matter which level of analysis you choose.

Tri-State Electrical Contractors Provide Best-in-Class Commercial Energy Analysis in the Southeastern US

Tri-State Electrical Contractors understands how to deliver cost-effective, productive electrical solutions for modern commercial companies to keep them competitive in the ever-changing, complex, online world. We provide comprehensive commercial energy analyses in addition to all other commercial electrical services you need. We can handle any commercial or industrial electrical work you need to be completed quickly and competently. For more information, give us a call at (423) 800-2134, fill out our simple online form, or email us at today.

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How to Secure Your Industrial Control Systems

Cyberattacks appear in headline news daily, and industrial control systems are high-value targets because they are vulnerable and can cause great turmoil if disrupted. Because of this, many hackers have shifted their attention to industrial control systems over traditional IT systems.

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Why Industrial Control Systems Are Vulnerable

There are many reasons why industrial control systems are particularly vulnerable to hacker attacks:

  • Industrial control systems now rely more on connectivity than ever before for basic operations and keep things running smoothly.
  • Because these systems often are comprised of equipment from many different vendors, each part within the system has different security measures in place, meaning that one software vulnerability can allow hackers into the entire industrial control system.
  • Industrial control systems do not have the same security oversight as traditional IT systems.
  • Equipment within these systems often includes software that cannot be updated or patched.
  • Industrial control systems equipment is typically used by manufacturing personnel, who don’t often have IT experience, especially with cybersecurity

Industrial control systems consist of operational technology such as sensors, programmable logic controllers, actuators, and even robots that manage, monitor, and maintain the systems—the more interconnected the systems, the greater the damage that can be done overall.

Damage that Hackers Can Do Through Industrial Control Systems

So you might think hackers can’t do any damage if they can access the conveyor belt system used in shipping and receiving, but you would be completely wrong. Here are some of the ways hackers can do damage to your company by hacking industrial control systems:

  • Access primary IT systems or more critical systems by moving into these systems laterally.
  • Steal trade secrets and intellectual property.
  • Obtain confidential information such as customer lists, marketing plans, policies and procedures, etc.
  • Secretly monitor internal traffic and other data such as email.
  • Take control of manufacturing, operations, or infrastructure equipment and cause damage, sabotage operations, or even hold it hostage.

Tips for Keeping Your Industrial Control System Safe

So what can you do to protect yourself from this damage? Take these actions:

  • Create security policies for the industrial control system equipment specifically and ensure that everyone follows them.
  • When purchasing new equipment for your industrial control system, be sure that it has a means to update the software and/or hardware for the system so that newly discovered vulnerabilities can be addressed.
  • Assign an individual or team that works with IT to maintain the control system equipment and make sure that hackers cannot get into the system through industrial control system equipment.
  • Hire an industrial control system specialist who understands the importance of security and designs these systems to maximize operational security.

The moral of the story is that don’t allow the security of industrial control system equipment to be forgotten or fall through the cracks. Create awareness of security vulnerabilities and ensure the key individuals know how to address them. Don’t put your whole organization at risk by allowing a security breach to occur via your industrial control systems.

Hire the Best Industrial Control System Specialists in the Southeastern US

Tri-State Electrical Contractors do not only install electrical equipment for commercial and industrial customers all over the Southeastern United States but also can help you install and configure industrial control systems for your operations securely. For more information, give us a call at (423) 800-2134, fill out our simple online form, or email us at today.