The first step to cost savings

Web-hosted remote energy monitoring services are proving big business in the latest generation of smart buildings for both new facilities and renovation projects. Until now similar online tools have been restrictive in terms of meter compatibility, system complexity and speed. However, the launch in June of Priva Energy Online is about to make web-hosted energy monitoring software more accessible to a far wider user base.

In light of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme, most large companies and organisations (including schools, hotels, hospitals and universities) are acutely aware of the need for regulatory compliance and responsible environmental practice. However, any drive to reduce energy consumption must begin with establishing where the problems lay.

Meters are all well and good but organisations with large or multiple facilities want to be slicker than that. Automation is the answer of course, but capital outlay for in-house server-based systems can be considerable, not to mention installation disruption and issues regarding compatibility with existing hardware and software.

To ease the pain of CRC compliance there are incentives on offer. The CRC is a government cap-and-trade scheme for non-energy intensive large organisations that requires mandatory self certification of CO2 emissions. A cap-and-trade scheme acts as an incentive to reduce emissions, since high polluting organisations must pay out to purchase credits, while low polluting organisations earn money through trading in credits they don’t need.

Perhaps slightly more startling is that the worst performers will be ‘named and shamed’ in a publicly-published league table. Additionally, a proportion of CRC participants will be audited, with a penalty of £40 for each tonne of CO2 incorrectly reported.

Gain control of energy costs

The driver for energy monitoring is therefore clearly identified. Existing aM&T (automated monitoring and targeting) systems such as Van Beek’s Erbis, which has sold over 1,000 licenses, have proved popular, but demand for simpler, faster systems have led vendors such as Priva to develop new software products.

Van Beek, an established energy consultancy formed in 1982 joined the Priva group in 2001. Its Erbis aM&T system formed the platform for Priva Energy Online, an easy-to-use, web-hosted energy monitoring software suite. The system is capable of providing detailed energy consumption profiles, audits and project management at the push of a button without the need to purchase or install new software, thus facilitating cost effective, quick and easy installation.

So, just who is likely to need such a system? Well, the CRC affects organisations that annually use more than 6,000MWh of electricity through half-hourly metering, which equates roughly to £500,000 or more per year spent on electricity. Around 5,000 UK organisations are therefore affected, including large offices, hotel chains, supermarkets, banks, large retailers, universities, local authorities and central government departments. Of course, Energy Online will also be of use to less energy-intensive users who have half-hourly meters but consume less than 6,000MWh of electricity: these organisations will be required to make an ‘information disclosure’ in terms of energy consumption.

Although Priva Energy Online will initially be rolled-out to existing Priva users, the beauty of the system is that it can be used by anyone (including smaller companies) in fact anyone who needs a low-cost solution to keep track of their consumption data. The user only sees the web interface, while the remote central server is maintained by Priva. All data is collected automatically from meters and analysed by the system. Subsequent reports appear on the webpage.

Transform data

Fulfilling the energy consumption needs of the end user, the benefits of Priva Energy Online are far reaching. An efficient energy monitoring system not only helps compliance with the CRC, it also provides a cost effective and easy insight into consumption, highlighting and tracking inefficiencies, showing when and where energy has been used and providing validation of incoming invoices so that existing energy contracts and tariffs can be renegotiated. In short, it transforms energy data into useful management information.

By monitoring all energy flows throughout an organisation, Priva estimates that its new system can provide annual energy savings of 5-15% through greater energy consumption awareness, and by providing alerts to exceptional usage or spikes in consumption.

The attractive and intuitive web interface appears to the end user as a dashboard with associated functionality. As a concept it contains several modules, allowing users to control and optimise energy usage step-by-step. Options include password entry, the ability to switch between predefined reports (such as costs, consumption and emissions), and benchmarking, i.e. seeing how offices or buildings compare to one another. Additionally a broad range of export functions ensures all stakeholders can quickly and easily access the information they need.

Web-based solution

Occasionally, BMS users will want to be able to access important energy monitoring information without having a dedicated PC on site. With this in mind, Priva has developed a new piece of hardware – the Compri HX Web Engine to provide a simple and reliable solution to remote management over the internet, or local management over the network using web technology. The system can be used in conjunction with a range of building management technologies including Priva Energy Online – thus making it an ideally suited technology to organisations looking to make their energy monitoring operations more accessible.

From the end user’s point of view, the Compri HX Web Engine provides a cost effective solution for the operation and management of a BMS as well as full visualisation capability using only an internet browser. It is also easy to re-transmit alarms via SMS or email which guarantees a fast and secure alarm handling process even when there are no users logged onto the Compri HX Web Engine.

The Compri HX WebEngine is designed to work effectively with all kinds of buildings whether they are large or small, new-build or renovation, single buildings or multi-site estates. It is particularly suited to customers who are running large operations which have a common IT network, such as local councils, retails chains and schools and colleges. Organisations which do not have a site wide IT network can also gain remote access to the locally installed Compri HX WebEngine by using ADSL and UTMS broadband connection.

By deploying Compri HX WebEngine, building performance can be easily monitored and historical data can be stored for up to six months. This helps building engineers to analyse and optimise the building’s internal environment and shed light on energy consumption figures. Of course, where used in conjunction with Priva Energy Online, this web-based solution will be of particular benefit to customers who are affected by the Carbon Reduction Commitment – many of whom are running large multi-site operations.

Energy ambitions

Efficient energy management is indispensable. Not just as a result of rising energy costs, but also from a corporate social responsibility point of view. Priva Energy Online and the Compri HX Web Engine provide the tools to visualise, control and optimise an organisation’s energy ambitions, performance and usage.