Make the most of help from the experts

The capabilities of building controls and building energy management systems (BEMS) extend and develop at an exciting pace. As well as controlling heating, ventilation, cooling and lighting, a BEMS can also be the backbone of an energy management strategy.

It can also help to ensure that a building is always using the most energy efficient source of power (switching to renewables whenever possible, for example). Services such as automated demand response can even support better use of power from the grid by balancing demand and supply.

But as the potential of BEMS and controls grows, it is even more important that building managers take an active role in managing and using them. This includes working with controls experts whose input can ensure that end-users are getting the most out of their systems.

In so many buildings today, the controls are not being used to their full potential. A lot of energy that’s being wasted could be saved by simple application of controls that are already installed. This does not include the potential of basic enhancements that might also save energy and money in the long term, such as demand-controlled systems.

As we come into what we hope will be the UK’s summer months, the use of energy in buildings with mechanical cooling and air conditioning are highly likely to rise with outdoor temperatures. Now is the time to ensure that these systems are correctly controlled – that timers, thermostats and sensors are operating as they should.

What’s more, ensuring that building managers understand the BEMS, and can utilise the data it produces with confidence means they are provided with a long term method of tracking energy use. This will lead to greater savings, because information from the BEMS will highlight areas of the building that are using more energy than required and pinpoint areas for the greatest potential savings.

One of the challenges of modern buildings is that their usage can change significantly over time. Rearrangement of office space or movement of occupants into a previously unoccupied area can affect building performance. Not only does this lead to changes in energy use, but also to potential discomfort for occupants where heating and cooling were not set up for the new office layout.

Calling in experts to recommission a controls system, and to offer advice on using it to its full potential, is an investment in the long term energy efficiency of a building. But payback can be very quick, and reduced energy bills are an immediate boost to the business bottom line.

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