The Carbon Reduction Commitment kicked in earlier this month, calling on businesses to assess energy consumption across their workplace. David Arminas explores various methods introduced by some companies to meet the recent legislative requirements.
22 April 2010
Never before has the pressure been so great for FMs to fully understand energy consumption, thanks largely to legislative requirements including the Carbon Reduction Commitment.
Measurement of electricity and gas are a must for companies obligated by the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme, says Bekir Andrews, sustainability manager at Romec. The business was founded in 1989 by Royal Mail to look after its 2,500 buildings and in 2002 Balfour Beatty Workplace took a 49 per cent share in the company.
Although water is still relatively cheap, it is increasingly important for carbon reporting under part of Scope 3 Carbon Accounting because of its embodies energy.
The government’s Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme lists a wide range of water saving technologies. These include water meters, low-flush toilets, urinal controls, restrictor valves, water efficient water treatment technologies and the use of water efficient appliances such as dishwashers.
A number of software providers can now collate data from half-hourly meters, automatic meter-readers, sub-meters, building management systems, third-party utility and fuel websites and provide custom reports.
Such reporting systems can be used to alert FMs and their colleagues of irregular consumption patterns, based on preset parameters, by text or email. In the past many monitoring systems have had limited success, as changes in consumption patterns were not always picked up by the recipient.
These systems can provide dashboard data for reception areas or the Intranet. Building users can see the effect of their actions whereas many energy or environmental campaigns fail to feedback the savings that have been achieved and, therefore, disengage staff after a while.
Another important ingredient to successful data management is the use of remote building management system (BMS) helpdesks. These significantly reduce the workload of an FM who may look after several sites and minimise the number of engineer call-outs, resulting in reduced costs.
Romec’s remote BMS helpdesk can dial into a client’s site and fix problems remotely in the vast majority of cases. The real trick lies in providing the remote BMS helpdesk with consumption patterns for a building, allowing the BMS helpdesk to take action 24/7 whenever problems occur.
Finding the right fit
Selecting the most appropriate lighting source and control system is often the single biggest factor in reducing energy costs. Around a 60 per cent saving is not uncommon, says David Stone, operations manager for ENER-G Efficiency Solutions that does not back a particular lighting product.
ENERG-G supports ‘open’ technologies such as the Dali and KNX protocol standards that are supported by manufacturers that make products across the entire market range.
“People often look at changing lighting systems based on installation costs and forget that the cheapest short-term option is not always the best long-term solution,” said Stone.
The goal is to achieve appropriate light quality for employees who will be more productive and motivated if their working conditions are optimised.
“In a building with a large amount of day lighting, traditionally a dimmable fluorescent system is recommended, but recent developments in electronic high intensity discharge lighting mean that this high-wattage ‘white’ source can now do the same tricks.”
Stone emphasises the difference between lighting controls and management technology, which produces ongoing, long-term data on the performance of the overall system, including the control element.
“If you are looking at management or control, management may cause the luminaire to be more expensive initially, but it will give you an ongoing ability to match the lighting operation with changing working practices in the long term. This may well reduce your operating costs over the life-time of the system.”
Whatever system and software is chosen, it is important to consider its flexibility to allow adaptations due to changing operational and economic factors.
“In three years’ time someone who didn’t take a longer view may have to replace a whole system part way through its operational life because of changes in legislative and economic cost structures.
“Taking time to make an informed and comprehensive decision on the right system for your organisation over the long term is crucial. Getting it wrong can be very costly indeed – both in terms of financial and environmental performance.”
Future systems and trends include having software programmes that not only display real-time information, but allow a kind of mini-simulation of ‘what would happen if I did this?’, explains Mark Magee, business solutions advisor for FM software developer FSI.
“It’s a natural progression of real-time data systems such as that displayed by FSI’s Concept Evolution,” says Magee who has 22 years experience in software applications. The object is to use the dashboard to also effect changes to building management systems based on what they are telling you in the first place.
The next step is for the software to be able to accept parameters inputted by the FM and send back data that says if you do this then the temperature will be raised or lowered and – importantly – it will cost you this much more or less than what is being spent at the moment.
It is important that whatever software is being used, it can produce instantly readable and understandable information for an FM and senior management. They have to be able to see that a building’s heating is producing a certain temperature. This, says Magee, will allow FMs to know what scenarios they might want to consider. “Software could even tell me what my energy supplier is going to charge me,” says Magee.
Taking this even further, the software might also allow an FM to change gas or electricity supplier as well given the time of day or month. It all comes down to having software tell the FM that if some parameter is changed then the impact on people comfort as well as the bottom line will be this or that.
• Selecting the most appropriate lighting source and control system is often the single biggest factor in reducing energy costs
• Romec was founded in 1989 by Royal Mail to look after its 2,500 buildings and in 2002 Balfour Beatty Workplace took a 49 per cent share in the company