Time to find those extra energy savings

By Ian Ellis, President of the

Building Controls Industry Association

A rather sobering message last month from Ofgem: the UK can look forward to serious power cuts and a ‘jump’ in electricity prices in 2015. Analysis by Ofgem shows that the UK’s electricity generation margins (the amount of spare capacity in the system) will drop from 14% to 4% over the next four years.

The closing of coal-fired generation is set to happen earlier than expected under EU environmental legislation, and the risk of shortfalls in electricity supplies is likely to be highest in 2015 to 2016.

This situation will impact on the UK’s security supply, and also see an increase in utility bills for consumers and businesses as the government has to invest in utility infrastructure to close the gap.

Clearly, energy is going to become an ever-more important business and political issue. However, research by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)  shows that over the past decade, the UK has in fact demonstrated one of the largest reductions in energy consumption in Europe.  In the service sector (i.e. non-industrial business) energy consumption fell by 13% between 2000 and 2008 and energy consumption per employee fell by 26% in the same period.

The challenge therefore is going to be to find more energy savings than we already have. DECC’s Energy Efficiency Deployment Office (EEDO) sent out a call for evidence earlier in 2012 with the aim of identifying where to look for the big efficiencies.

But for most businesses, the question is more pressing – how can we reduce our energy consumption and as a result our bills, or at least stop them spiralling ever-higher? From the BCIA’s point of view, we believe that the most powerful tool to bring about better energy efficiency is information.

Metering is now a requirement in commercial buildings, but energy and facilities managers must turn that raw data into usable and actionable information. The controls industry has produced numerous software tools and systems for collecting, monitoring and analysing data from meters.

It is this information that will show exactly where savings can be made on a building by building basis. Information can also be used to highlight areas of a business that are particularly efficient – or otherwise. There are a growing number of case studies showing how energy managers in large organisations are using data to measure the energy performance of individual stores or departments.

If the news about our energy supply looks bad, the silver lining is that the tools to get a grip on our energy use are already available, and probably installed in most buildings. All we have to do is use them.

FMP helps education take shape

Three major construction firms from Northern Ireland have collaborated to deliver a series of schools in a contract worth £70m in the Scottish Western Isles.

Farrans, H&J Martin and Patton, working under the joint-venture name of FMP, beat off stiff competition to win the construction contract for six schools as part of the Western Isles Schools Project (WISP) funded by the Scottish Government.

The WISP generated £35million for the local economy and at its peak 300 jobs were created throughout the construction project with over 3,500 site inductions across the new school sites.

Grant Robinson, Managing Director of FMP said: “The WISP contract represents a significant piece of business for FMP. It has been a challenging and rewarding series of projects to manage as working on an island created significant access and logistical barriers, while the weather conditions forced us to halt work on a number of occasions.”

Excellent standards

Work on the schools, which comprised a mix of new-build and refurbishment, began two years ago. Each of the schools has been designed to meet the BREEAM Excellent standards, one of the most comprehensive and widely recognised measures of a building’s environmental performance. Combined, the six schools have provided over 28,000sq m of facility floor space and will accommodate almost 2,000 pupils in pre-school, primary and secondary education. 

One of the schools, the Nicolson Institute, Stornoway, Lewis is the largest secondary school in the Western Isles and is located adjacent to the existing site on Springfield Road, Stornoway. While the old school consisted of several buildings spread over a large, disparate campus, the new school is a single new-build facility providing in excess of 13,500sq m of floor space.  The new campus also includes the retained C-listed Pentland Building and the B-listed Matheson hall which have been extensively upgraded and refurbished to provide CDT and ICT facilities respectively – this ICT Hub will also provide centralised services to all schools in the Western Isles.

Grant Robinson continues: “We are proud to have contributed to each school and the local communities they serve.  The sheer commitment and effort from the Comhairle and Sgoiltean Ùra generated the energy, foresight and can-do attitude that was infectious for the entire team. We are delighted that construction of each of the schools has been completed on time and within budget, paving the way for the schools to open on time for the commencement of the academic year.”

Apprenticeship training

As part of FMP’s commitment to integrating with the communities on the Western Isles, FMP provided opportunities for the long-term unemployed to work on the projects. FMP worked closely and engaged directly with ConstructionSkills, Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation (SNIPEF) and Skills Development Scotland through the ‘Adopt an Apprentice’ scheme. This initiative targeted redundant apprentices offering them a second chance to complete their apprenticeship training.

Grant continues: “A key element of our activity was focused on working collaboratively to safeguard apprentices on the islands who had been made redundant.  This scheme is one of the biggest success stories that has come about as a result of the WISP. FMP is delighted to have contributed to giving so many unemployed people and apprentices job opportunities during the construction of the six schools.”

Garrandale leads the anti-graffiti revolution

The recent Olympics have left us with a legacy of champions, but just as important was the work which went on behind the scenes to help the UK put its best side on show.

Garrandale worked on one such project with Network Rail as part of the Visual Image Impact cleanup programme by providing GraffStop Self Release clear and pigmented which was used to great effect on several main line routes into London. Unsightly graffiti was successfully erased through the use of GraffStop products and a number of structures have now been protected against future attacks.

Developed by Garrandale’s dedicated team of chemists, the GraffStop System is a range of anti-graffiti coatings that have been proved to be unlike any other products on the market. A single pack polymer, all of the GraffStop range can be used on a wide range of surfaces and, once the system has been applied, graffiti can be removed using only water.

Jim Nightingale, Maintenance Protection Coordinator Leicester, commented: “Prior to the Olympics, Network Rail ran a nationwide project to tidy up the railway which focused on graffiti and litter removal. On the Midland Main Line the key cities to benefit were Leicester, London and Nottingham where various lineside equipment cabinets and buildings were painted in light grey, whilst on bridges and walls anthracite, light grey, holly green or brick red was used.

“The intention was to rely on the deterrent effect of GraffStop to keep these assets in good condition, particularly for the duration of the games when the eyes of the world were on London. Having rendered them water washable, they could easily be cleaned, negating the need for an application of fresh paint.”

GraffStop has been proven to work comprehensively on buildings, bridges and stations, protecting the public from offensive graffiti and images.

Kentec earns a place at Oxford

Kentec fire control panels are central to a new fire detection system installed at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) – a research institute of the University of Oxford.

Based in the Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine located on the University of Oxford’s Old Road Campus, WTCHG houses more than 400 occupants spread over three floors. The Centre aims to explore all aspects of the genetic susceptibility to disease, including the understanding of how DNA variants contribute to the risk of disease in the population.

 When the university decided to replace the existing 10-year-old fire alarm and detection system, it was agreed with Oxfordshire based Pyrotec Services that the new system would be based around Hochiki’s Enhanced Systems Protocol (ESP), Hochiki devices and Kentec control panels.

The University of Oxford Safety Office insists on open protocol systems, together with commonality of equipment. The use of Hochiki devices and Kentec control panels for all replacement and new systems has been the norm for the past 20 years.

The project involved installing a Kentec Syncro 12 loop, 96 zone analogue addressable control panel and two Syncro Focus Network LCD Repeater Panels using the existing cabling infrastructure. Approximately 1,000 devices were installed including nearly 500 ACB-E analogue multi-sensors, which incorporate a variable temperature heat element and a rate of rise heat element – both of which are controlled from the control panel, allowing either one or both elements to be active in making the fire decision.

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