How your transit agency can cut utility bills and emissions (Boston's doing it)

Fri, 2016-06-03 06:00 -- Doug Peeples

Two goals for any smart city transformation are livability and sustainability. And transportation systems offer a great place to start: they use a lot of energy and they typically contribute heavily to air pollution in bustling urban areas. The news release that follows explains an initiative the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Council Lead Partner Schneider Electric have taken on to cut high energy costs and emissions. But pay particular attention to how they're first identifying the most cost-effective opportunities, the targets most likely to give the city a truly smart transportation system — and how deeply they're digging to get the detailed information they need for a successful project. — Doug Peeples

Schneider Electric Helps Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Drive Energy Savings

Powerful software and services provide new insight into energy data, uncover opportunities for efficiency

ANDOVER, Mass., June 1, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, today announced it's working with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to cut utility bills and carbon emissions tied to public transportation in the greater Boston area. Together, the organizations will develop a comprehensive energy management plan and implement technology to help the MBTA reach its goal of reducing energy costs 12 percent next year.

The fifth largest transit agency in the nation, the MBTA operates bus, subway, railway and ferry routes in and around Boston metro, serving more than 1.35 million riders a day. The amount of power required to run such an extensive operation makes the authority the largest consumer of electricity in Massachusetts. The MBTA currently spends more than $48 million annually on utilities and uses enough electricity to power 50,000 homes.

"Energy-saving opportunities are everywhere. But for sizeable organizations such as the T, the challenge is finding those with the greatest return and moving in a coordinated fashion," said Steve Wilhite, Senior Vice President of Energy and Sustainability Services at Schneider Electric. "How do you know if the Boylston station is using 15 percent more energy than other, similar subway stops? And what do you do? It takes a system-wide view and the ability to turn data into action."

Through the partnership, the MBTA will use Schneider Electric's cloud-based Resource Advisor to visualize, measure and manage efficiency and sustainability initiatives across its entire footprint — in one single interface. The software will compile and track data from up to 218 energy meters across 45 sites to start. This includes the analysis of both utility and interval data to identify trends, allocate spend and pinpoint efficiency measures to deliver savings.

The MBTA will leverage the Performance Analytics Module within Resource Advisor to gain a complete view of all consumption-related interval data streams in near real-time. Analytics captured within this module will help the MBTA to:

  • Benchmark site performance across its portfolio
  • Identify non-optimized stations, equipment and behavioral inefficiencies
  • Monitor and control consumption to identify anomalies
  • Prioritize energy efficiency projects and validate ROI

The work marks the start of a long-term collaboration that will form the cornerstone of a comprehensive energy-management strategy for the MBTA. The full scope will include aggregating main utility meters and submeters — to get a granular view of where and when energy is used — developing sustainability and renewable energy plans, optimizing utility purchasing, and tracking and improving building performance using tools such as the Energy Star Portfolio Manager.

All the activity and data will flow through Resource Advisor for unified access to information and metrics. This will ultimately allow the MBTA to proactively manage energy use to reduce consumption and save money.

From the Smart Cities Readiness Guide…

The Transportation chapter of the Readiness Guide provides a variety of resources and expertise in how cities can and are developing smart transportation systems and improving their investments and budgets by integrating smart technologies. It also addresses the building blocks of a smart system, from data and analytics to asset optimization and situational awareness. And case studies offer real world glimpses into how cities around the world are successfully keeping commuters moving, increasing operational efficiency and doing it for less cost.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.