Identify, maintain and review
We are all getting better at identifying energy savings and while this is a good start it simply is not enough in the longer term because saving energy should be a continuous process of identifying, maintaining and reviewing as James Hart of CP Northern explains.
Energy Performance Certificates are just one of the drivers for achieving energy efficiency, but ultimately everyone wants to save money so whether it is as a result of Government or internal pressure, the need to reduce the amount of energy used and therefore cost is a very real and necessary target.
But for many people the ability to achieve real savings doesn’t seem to be within their grasp and although a number of efficiency measures have already been implemented, many companies are still fighting to meet their targets.
The main problem lies with the way in which the efficiency measures have been implemented because many companies look no further than the initial installation to achieve savings and while there are some initial savings, this certainly shouldn’t be the end of the story.
Long term commitment
Energy efficiency requires a long term commitment to identifying savings, maintaining the equipment and constantly reviewing in order to be really successful, but even the most energy conscious of our customers struggle to meet this 24/7 requirement.
In addition there are so many new products and services available that many people simply do not know where to start. The ability to make an informed decision can therefore be one of the biggest problems because while every business wants to save energy, if you don’t know how to do it or how to measure the energy that you are already using then you will be unable to achieve the savings that you need to.
It is this issue which has led to the launch of MACP Energy which is a joint venture between ourselves and Keith Maloney of Maloney Associates, and offers a comprehensive energy management service that incorporates comprehensive energy monitoring with lighting and building controls to optimise the energy usage in a commercial building.
One of the main drivers for the launch was the need for a proactive service which drives down energy costs because we feel that this is one area which the industry lacks. For example, every commercial building has some form of energy efficiency measures installed but one of the main areas of concern is that the energy use is not being measured on a daily basis. This basically means that changes to the layout or use of the building will not be taken into account and as a result the ability to achieve savings could be drastically reduced.
What the industry needs is a 360 degree service which looks at the energy which is being used on a daily basis and which is then constantly monitored and reviewed. For some people this may sound like overkill but I can assure you that it isn’t because if a problem does occur which is costing money then you need to jump on it immediately and ensure that action is taken to sort it out because this is the only way that those energy saving products which you installed will really pay for themselves.
One of the other main benefits of this service is the ability for your building to be monitored remotely. All too often we hear about companies who do not have enough manpower to provide the level of monitoring and maintenance which is required and as a result numerous opportunities are being lost and companies are failing to take full advantage of the energy savings available.
What this also means is that we can flag up management and behavioural issues at an early stage and ensure that the plant and the personnel are not working against each other to create a detrimental effect on the building.
Whatever your type of business, planning for energy efficiency is the same for everyone and therefore stage one of any process needs to identify and target the reductions. This is one area where our joint venture proves to be very worthwhile because Keith’s background as an energy and environmental consultant allows him to see where savings can be made or where simple adjustments can reap rewards.
This initial stage is followed up with the installation of the relevant hardware which includes a combination of sub-metering and remote metering to allow us to monitor your entire site in real time and then suggest areas for improvement. For example, if the monitoring shows that your lighting costs are disproportionately high then we can recommend a controls strategy and products which will ensure that lights are not left on when everyone has left the building.
In fact it is this process of continuous review which is the most important part of the service which we offer because by optimising and maintaining any control system you are able to manage the building in a more efficient and cost effective manner.
Taking a proactive approach to energy management is definitely the way forward but where time is limited (as everyone’s generally is) it is important to get that information right and to act on it in the most efficient way possible. The integration of energy monitoring in real time with simple to use control packages provides the solution and ensures that any changes in behaviour or building usage can be acted upon immediately.
Perhaps more importantly, the energy management service offered by MACP Energy ensures that a company is able to make the most of any energy efficiency measures which have been introduced to a commercial building (such as lighting controls).
So next time the issue of achieving energy savings raises its head remember that just because you installed a controls system two years ago it doesn’t necessarily follow that it is still functioning in the way it was meant to. Commercial buildings and the way they are used are constantly changing and as a result we must accept that energy efficiency is a continuous process which requires regular maintenance and review in order to achieve success.