Improving building performance and energy efficiency is a key priority for any Facilities Manager. If done correctly, building performance optimisation can help reduce operating costs, improve comfort conditions, reduce energy waste and unnecessary maintenance costs. Whilst the gaps in building performance is a multi-faceted issue, there are some common contributing factors; these include:
- Building design or change of use
- Building Management Systems (BMS) and Controls Automation
- Plant life and degradation
- Poor energy monitoring / reporting
- Organisational energy culture
The following low-cost solutions are the starting point for any organisation that wishes to improve its building performance. These two approaches combined will provide you with a holistic view of your energy waste and operational inefficiencies giving you a platform to start the journey towards improving building performance.
Solution 1 - Energy Culture
The first step to improving operational performance and energy efficiency for any organisation is to review its energy culture. It is important to appraise the company’s current energy policy and sustainability objectives before considering any energy efficiency measures. Energy culture is often overlooked by organisations, ignoring the most important variable in achieving energy efficiency or building performance optimisation – individuals. If the workforce is not fully engaged and knowledgeable about how their behaviours effect energy efficiency, the full potential of any energy saving initiative introduced within the firm will not be realised.
A well-implemented energy management system is essential to achieving good energy performance. However, outstanding performance and continual improvement will only be achieved when there is a significant cultural swing in the organisation so that key elements of the system are adopted and embraced fully through behavioural initiatives. Therefore, aspiring companies wishing to maximise the benefits and adoption of their energy management system will need to consider their organisational culture.
Solution 2 - Building Performance Report (Energy Optimisation Health Check)
Undertaking a site survey will provide a detailed view of the serviceability, maintainability and condition of the buildings plant equipment and controls. Site surveys also provide an opportunity to assess the current controls automation, building energy performance and identify opportunity for savings.
Building controls and automations are one of the most significant challenges in improving operational performance. It is very common for buildings to undergo refurbishments and alterations that result in the use of the building differing significantly from its original design. In addition, Building Management Control philosophies, strategies and misuse also act as a catalyst for energy inefficiencies.
A site survey will reveal any issues with the BMS or its controls and act as benchmark for improvements. Assessing the condition of the HVAC plant and equipment, current occupancy levels, operating times and current BMS control strategy will provide a clearer picture into the building’s operational performance. The information gathered from these surveys can then be reported back to Facilities Managers in the form of corrective actions.
Operational and controls corrective actions offer significant energy saving opportunities. During a seven-month period in 2017 – 2018, one client saved of £200,000 through system tuning and control optimisation. These types of changes not only have a direct effect on the amount of gas and electricity being consumed, but also the amount of CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere and Climate Change Levy Tax (CCL) incurred.
Any savings proposed should be supported with a validation report to qualify savings achieved. Our Technical Energy Centre (TEC) undertakes this type of analysis following the IPMVP guidelines. It is important to assess your energy data through continual monitoring to both qualify the savings achieved but also proactively respond to energy inefficiencies. For further information, click here and read our article on how to benchmark your organisations energy use.
More Answers to Commercial Energy Management
- Start with your energy culture first! – Why so many energy saving initiatives do not deliver the predicted results
- How to improve operational efficiency and reduce capital expenditure
- BMS Controls: Key Considerations
- How to benchmark your organisations energy use
- Understanding your energy culture webinar