The Results Are In: Decision Drivers for EMS Purchases

Alison Liaboe

ems_survey_landing_page_imageThe market for Energy Management Systems (EMS) is growing, fueled by companies’ needs to reduce energy consumption and achieve energy savings. Ecova recently surveyed over 100 of our multi-site clients to learn about current adoption, management, and maintenance of EMS. There were many interesting findings from the survey, which I’ll explore in a three-part blog series:

  • Decision drivers for EMS Purchases
  • How EMS Systems are Used
  • Challenges in Realizing Expected ROI on EMS

Survey respondents represented multiple industries and job functions, including operations, facilities, energy management, real estate, construction, property management, as well as C-Suite executives. Most of the responses came from the retail sector, followed by grocery, finance, telecom, real estate, and many additional industries.


According to the survey results, 85 percent of respondents have an EMS installed within their site portfolio. Installation rates within portfolios range significantly; which we expected given the relative newness of the technology and the size of the portfolios of clients surveyed. Although some respondents had EMS installed at very few sites, 38 percent had EMS installed at between 75 and 100 percent of sites. For those with EMS installed at a small percentage of sites, it is unclear why they have not implemented EMS more broadly. They may be testing the benefits of EMS within their portfolios by rolling out small pilot programs, or they may not have seen the expected ROI on earlier pilot programs.

In terms of vendor selection, no clear market leader was identified. We asked survey respondents to identify the manufactures of EMS systems installed within their site portfolio and over 30 different manufacturers were named. Honeywell, Siemens/Site Controls, Johnson Controls and Trane were the most referenced, but there was no dominant leader and many EMS manufacturers followed these four brands.

Additionally, respondents consistently listed multiple manufacturers in their response. This could be an indication that purchasers have very little brand loyalty, or that, due to various acquisitions or a recent centralization effort of facility management, this is simply the mix they inherited. Either way, facility management teams appear to be managing multiple EMS systems.

Not surprisingly, nearly 75 percent of respondents that only have EMS in less than 25 percent of their site portfolio have only one or two brands installed. These companies are more than likely beginning the process of evaluating EMS systems and want to start small.


The survey revealed that the top five criteria, in order of importance, for purchase decision are:

  1. Cost/Price
  2. Ease of Use
  3. Reliability
  4. Capability
  5. Integration

As is common with many capital expenditures, the price of EMS was the most common purchasing criteria referenced. Decision makers also weigh the ease of use of the systems they plan to install. With hundreds or thousands of sites to manage, making sure the EMS software interface is intuitive is a must.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my EMS survey results blog series as I explore how companies are using these systems.

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