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City Putting its B.R.A.I.N. to Use

Complete energy management system has saved City $355,000 in its first year.
November 10, 2023

Last year, the City of Albuquerque launched its Balanced Resource Acquisition and Information Network, known as the B.R.A.I.N. It gives the City real time information on utility use across facilities to help the team quickly address any issues to save electricity, natural gas, and water. Since it’s been in place, the B.R.A.I.N. has helped the City save $355,000 in its first year of operation. That figure is expected to rise as the Energy & Sustainability Management team find more projects to invest in.

One example of how the B.R.A.I.N. has helped influence changes and save money is at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial Park. The 25-acre park is now lit by a series of LED lights that are not only brighter and showcase the flags of the branches of service, but also saves the City money and energy. 

“The Veterans Memorial needed improved lighting, but we wanted to make sure that the brighter lights were also more efficient. With the help of the B.R.A.I.N. we are now able to see the savings in real time and also monitor the conditions of the lights,” said Saif Ismail, Energy & Sustainability Division Manager for the City of Albuquerque.

Thanks to the B.R.A.I.N., Ismail calculates that the new lighting will save the city $73,965 annually. The B.R.A.I.N. takes data from connected devices like lights, air conditioning systems, water taps, gas meters and more to help Ismail and his team find ways to save energy in nearly every building the City owns. At the Veterans Memorial Park, for example, the City sees substantial energy and cost savings:

  • Previous annual kWh used: 373,938
  • New annual kWh used: 65,194
  • Total electric kWh reduction: 83%
  • Annual cost savings: $73,965

“We have to have data to justify our needs,” Ismail said. “We used to use excel spreadsheets and a lot of it was guesswork or from annual reports. That didn’t help much. With the B.R.A.I.N., we see it all in real time.”

Simply having data doesn’t mean much unless you use it. Ismail and the team in the Energy & Sustainability Division use this data, and their master control capabilities, to save energy. They can, for example, set air conditioners to turn off in facilities when people are not there.

In the past, if there was a problem City employees would call the 311 to report problems like broken chillers. Now, the B.R.A.I.N. immediately alerts the team of an issue. One common issue the B.R.A.I.N. finds is solar panels that are not producing power, a problem that was harder to diagnose before. Often, one panel on a large grid will stop working. Before the B.R.A.I.N., only a year-end analysis could detect a bad panel.

“We can fix it the same day. That’s how you save money,” Ismail said.

The B.R.A.I.N. was the first tool of its kind in the nation, and will continue to help the City address critical issues and get closer to its sustainability goals to create a more climate-friendly place for Albuquerque families.