Have we got the energy?

When history writes about the era we are now living through, it will be the politicians, scientists and the higher-profile green activists who will feature when issues relating to climate change are held up for scrutiny.

The truth of who created these differences will however lie at the door of organisations and individuals who contributed towards making significant change possible through facilitating the demand for increased awareness – something that is always the precursor to change.

The road to truly sustainable building services solutions is a lengthy one and can be likened to the complexities of trying to reach the top of the F1 rankings.  In F1 the overall vehicle design including the intricacies of the components, mechanical tuning and back-up, as well as the communications and strategy need to work together.

Trying to create a sustainable commercial building solution needs a similar commitment, attention to detail, will to win and team ethic. Pumps are only one of the many sustainable component blocks, but as they account for up to 20% of a commercial buildings energy daily usage, they are a critical part of the end result, and one aspect that is often overlooked. 

Gaining improvement is all about raising the bar and to do this you have to set increasingly tough challenges. The UK government has taken a very firm stand on setting difficult challenges and, demonstrated within the G8, their huge commitment to reducing carbon emissions and to implementing different initiatives to support their tough targets

None of these ambitions can be reached in isolation and the government are heavily reliant on individual companies achieving increasingly complex levels of product innovation to enable a return on their well documented promises. 

Grundfos Pumps, supply a wide range of pump system solutions to many different areas including domestic, commercial building services and process industry applications, as well as being a major supplier to the water supply and treatment industries and provider of packaged fire sets, and are very conscious of the contribution that they make towards the overall national energy consumption.  This is because:

  • Pumps account for 47.24TWh of electricity used in the UK – the largest single user
  • Energy accounts for 90%+ of their total cost during their life cycle
  • A 20% reduction in speed returns a 50% energy reduction, with a 50% reduction equally an 87% savings (based on cube law)
  • Just a 2% saving would equal 1033 GWhr, 9% would equal 4265 GWhr (Source: DEFRA)

Although energy labelling on smaller circulators was introduced within the EU on a voluntary basis in March 2005 but it will be 2013 before only the more intelligent domestic circulators will be available to the market. 

With the wheels of government grinding so slowly and back in late 2007,  Peter Reynolds, Grundfos’ managing director decided to take on the responsibility for raising the profile of energy efficient pumps within the UK government.  To do this and reach the right ears he undertook some research to establish the best route to reach the very heart of government. 

It quickly became apparent to achieve this ambition Grundfos would need to seek the expertise and advice of a specialist consultant who would be able to gain access for Peter to go to speak to key decision makers to put the case for changing the rules – not simply for Grundfos – but for the pump industry.   This work is ongoing but has started to reap rewards with the many meetings already held with key government contacts, right up to ministerial level, starting to result in real initiatives.

All this is happening against a backdrop where currently less than 1% of the installed domestic pump base in the UK are ‘A’ rated.  Things are a little better on the commercial building services side where in 2008 Grundfos results have shown a more positive increase in variable speed sales with 42% of the total sales value attributable to these energy efficient options, an increase of over 10% over the previous year. Great news, but it still leaves some way to go.

The decisions that all of us, as significant players in commercial building services, make in our working lives today will have significant ramifications for many years to come. As each generation is just a custodian of planet earth until it is time to pass it onto our children, let’s make the right decisions, not just for today, but for all our tomorrows.  

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