Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is one of the world’s leading research institutions with a reputation for developing innovative technologies.  The University’s Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics looks for ways to improve energy and operational efficiency in buildings worldwide.  Modern buildings include many complex control systems with its own sensors, interfaces and data storage.  For example, the center’s own Robert L. Preger Intelligent Workplace laboratory includes more than 10 data collection and control systems with hundreds of sensors and actuators.

In 2011, CMU implemented the PI system from Microsoft Partner OSI Soft.  The PI system integrated all the building automation systems as well as lights, ventilation, air, quality, weather and security data sources, providing real-time insight into performance.

As a next step, CMU and OSISoft decided to extend the solution with Power BI for Office 365 so that they could share data more easily with a more diverse set of users. Senior Researcher, Azizan Aziz highlights “We believe that there are multiple level of engagement, ranging from individuals working in offices to facility managers to government leaders and policy makers.  An example, is the new Q&A feature that helps CMU serve a broader range of user roles.  “So you can have 10 people, each with different priorities, and instead of creating a dashboard for each one, they can just type in a question. It’s a much faster process” says Bernard Lasternas, CMU Researcher.

By making data more accessible, CMU has gained actionable insight such as identifying faulty equipment and cut energy consumption in its laboratory by approximately one third.  CMU also worked with a major bank in Pittsburgh that wanted to improve energy consumption across multiple branches. – providing similar beneficial results. 

CMU believes that such project will help shape energy policies and improve energy management in the public sector as well. “With all the data they can access and analyze using Power BI for Office 365, governments can precisely targets ways to reduce energy consumption” says Aziz. You can learn more about the CMU solution by reading the more detailed case study here.