Facing unprecedented challenges and complexities, utilities around the world are looking to building energy management systems (BEMS) to help boost the effectiveness of their energy efficiency and demand-side management programs, better understand customer energy use patterns, and engage multiple segments of their commercial client base with new and innovative money-saving programs. At the same time, commercial energy management vendors are finding that these technologies can help them gain access to large new customer bases that were previously cost-prohibitive to access. According to a new report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, global spending on building energy management systems will total $41 million in 2012 and will reach $319 million worldwide by 2020.

“The market for BEMS for utility customers is still nascent, with most of the leading activity being driven by utilities in the United States and Canada,” says senior research analyst Eric Bloom. “On the vendor side, the BEMS market is made up of large, well-established players as well as smaller, more nimble companies that have the ability to disrupt the market dynamics with innovative technical solutions and pricing models. Other formidable market entrants include large IT firms, which offer expertise in handling enterprise-level integration and large volumes of data.”

The capabilities of BEMS solutions vary widely, according to the report. While active systems can control all or portions of the building’s infrastructure systems, passive BEMS perform a monitoring and analysis function only. Enterprise-wide solutions can report information to all levels of a large and geographically diverse organization, whereas others are designed for a single facility. Some systems require connection to a host of meters and building systems for their data, while others require no touch at all and can be implemented remotely, without ever visiting the structure.