Visibility is the key

In this article Mike Brand, Business Development Manager at DEDICATEDengines, explains how visibility of energy consumption will only achieve significant energy reductions when combined with motivation and the right tools.

If you have a water meter in your home, you are probably an efficient user of water, even if you are not the world’s leading environmentalist. Similarly, your electricity bill helps you to monitor the energy costs of your daily life and recent fluctuations in the price of energy will doubtless have caught your attention.

You may even have a smart meter for your gas and electricity supply or you could have purchased an energy monitor that provides you with a real-time display of electricity consumption. All of these tools are designed to give you visibility of your energy consumption and if you have the motivation, (environmental or financial, or both) it helps you to identify energy-hungry devices.

The problem is that you are a human being (and so is the rest of your family!) which means that you sometimes forget to turn off lights, computers, televisions etc or to adjust radiators and change the thermostat setting. So, what is the solution?

A smart approach

Smart buildings have the ability to both monitor and control energy, thereby preventing the impact of human forgetfulness. In business and industrial buildings, advances in technology have enabled building monitoring and control systems that can be retrofitted and operated remotely over the internet. Such systems are able to manage enormous numbers of buildings and thereby deliver substantial energy savings. An example of this is one of our customers who is achieving 20% energy reduction following the installation of one of our eFM (internet-based Facilities Management) systems.

A quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the energy we use to heat our homes and a similar amount comes from businesses, industry and workplaces. At a national level, the UK needs to become more energy efficient to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and the Climate Change Act 2008 legislated for a reduction in our carbon emissions.

It set legally-binding carbon budgets across all sectors of the UK economy including homes and communities, and workplaces. Regulatory tools such as the CRCEES are forcing businesses to address energy efficiency and the recent recession is also encouraging focus on cost reduction.

The issues in the workplace mirror those in the home; if HVAC, electrical equipment and lighting are entirely controlled by human beings, errors will be made unless controls are in place. Furthermore, staff are often disconnected with the financial costs associated with energy in businesses, so they may be less likely to voluntarily implement energy efficiency measures. However, as people become more environmentally aware, motivation for improvements grows.

Key objectives

The key objective is to create tools that provide real-time visibility of energy use, coupled with the ability to create controls that prevent energy wastage and empower asset managers to use energy as efficiently as possible.

The internet has made an enormous contribution to the simplification of energy efficiency. We can now manage multiple buildings from a single PC, setting estate wide controls for electrical equipment, temperature, lighting, ventilation and air conditioning. We can identify individual pieces of equipment that are left running unnecessarily and we can introduce controls to prevent this from happening.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to energy management but we have found that modular systems are required which means that solutions can be tailored to meet specific needs.

Some clients require aM&T (automated Monitoring and Targeting), others CRC compliance reporting or real-time building monitoring and control, or a combination of these; so we have developed systems that have the flexibility to satisfy any current or future need.

At the heart of each system is a monitoring and control zone kit which is deployed in workspaces and plant room HVAC equipment such as boilers. Core web functionality consists of the Remote BEMS (Buildings Energy Management System) module for HVAC environmental, management and control and the Alarming/Help desk module for FM asset management and maintenance.

The move to implement energy efficiency in buildings and estates is gathering a powerful momentum, so if we can provide asset managers with both visibility of energy use and control tools, we will be able to save substantial costs and make a major contribution to the targets set out in the Climate Change Act.

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