Specifier Review
carbon reduction

Think in £s not kWhs

While energy saving initiatives can enhance an organisation’s carbon reduction status they also have significant economic benefits. Steve Browning, Marketing Manager of Trend Controls, explains how Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) can increase the bottom line.

Organisations are under increasing pressure to lower their carbon emissions and make sure that they reduce expenditure wherever and whenever possible. However, many companies are failing to ensure that energy is being used as well as it could be – and are paying the price.

Wasting energy can be like pouring money down the drain but by maximising the potential of an existing BEMS, energy savings of 10-20% are easily achievable. This could equate to a 0.1-0.4% saving on a company’s total cost base instantly increasing profitability.

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Percentage points

UK carbon reduction targets are tough and the long-term framework outlined by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) sets out plans for achieving the reductions stated in the Climate Change Act 2008.

When compared to 1990 levels, this equates to a reduction of at least 34% by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050. As they are responsible for 17% of the UK’s carbon emissions, the nation’s 1.8 million non-domestic buildings are at the very heart of meeting this challenge.

However, energy management being on organizations radar is still something of an anomaly. One reason for this could be that for most companies the energy bill is low compared to other outgoings. Even so, for the average company, the energy bill is around 1% of its annual base; equal to the annual advertising and promotional spend.

Seeing is believing

Despite the growing uncertainty surrounding the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme, in all probability it will be replaced by a similar scheme, such as a carbon tax, which could affect businesses of all sizes.

The CRC isn’t the only driver for energy reduction – the Climate Change Levy (CCL), Air Conditioning Assessments, Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) all impact upon businesses – and compliance with voluntary certification standards such as ISO 5001 puts the onus on companies to address their energy use.

On the plus side

The good news is that most buildings will already have a BEMS installed. However, in many cases it will not have been properly maintained and could therefore be ineffective.

When a BEMS is first commissioned it is configured around an existing building layout and occupancy patterns. These can change over time and incorrectly configured time clocks and set points, new layouts, and repartitioning can all lead to poor control and energy wastage.

Failure to maintain a BEMS on an on-going basis will result in degradation of the building’s energy performance. In order to rectify this, it is advisable to undertake an audit that ascertains what can be achieved and energy saving opportunities.

Instant savings

Most adjustments can be made to the operation of the BEMS that deliver immediate savings of between 5-10%.  While items such as boilers, chillers, air conditioning, and pumps can be checked to make sure they are working correctly, any maintenance issues to do with the BEMS itself or the building services equipment use can also be addressed.

Regular audits are recommended, to ensure that everything is as it should be.  BEMS manufacturers even offer secure monitoring service, allowing remote intervention in order to maintain energy performance.

Suggestions can also be made about how to enhance the existing operation of plant by installing items such as variable speed drives. The investment can pay for itself in a matter of months; for instance a centrifugal pump or fan running at 80% speed consumes only half of the energy compared to one running at full speed.

On side

It is critical to achieve stakeholder buy-in for any business enhancement programme.  By using a standard web browser, software based packages are available that act as a window to a BEMS.  It is also possible to access utility meter readings from a BEMS and present a continually updated record of a building’s energy consumption and carbon emissions – showing at a glance whether they are on, below or above performance targets.

This software can be easily connected to a wall mounted LCD monitor, and placed in reception or other communal area and highlight the companies’ energy saving achievements to stakeholders.carbon reductionPositive impact

Reducing carbon emissions and lowering energy expenditure are closely linked and the savings that can be made through the use of a correctly specified and maintained energy management system are considerable. So next time the energy bill comes – don’t just accept it – remember there is a way to make cost savings that is right under your nose.

For further information please call Trend Marketing on 01403 211888 or email marketing@trendcontrols.com.