Five Tips: Cutting Energy Spend, Efficiently

JVR-(1)By Joan Vidal, Energy Solutions Development Leader at Honeywell Building Solutions

When it comes to improving your building’s efficiency, knowing where to start and how to maintain a successful, long-term programme can prove challenging given the array of systems and processes that impact energy use. Robust energy management is about striking a balance between business needs and operational effectiveness. This entails taking a holistic view at how energy is both consumed and purchased, and the resulting gains can be significant.

Here are five things to keep in mind as you look for savings beyond the lights:

  1. View your building as an interconnected ecosystem that should run in sync
    Ballasts, bulbs and thermostats are just the tip of the spear. The building is an extensive collection of equipment that should all be working in concert. By viewing it as a living ecosystem, you’ll be better equipped to gather, analyse and act on data. You can then uncover connections between the building’s performance, comfort, safety and energy costs to make more informed adjustments in the future.

  1. Understand your utility’s pricing structures and available incentives
    Utility pricing, tariff mechanisms and incentives for participating in programmes, such as the UK National Energy Efficiency Action Plan,that help solve transmission and distribution issues all present opportunities to trim your spend. Understanding how you pay for energy gives you the ability to develop and implement strategies for things like peak pricing, points in time that can make or break an energy management programme. Even if you’re using an outside consultant, stay informed and engaged.

  1. Establish your base and peak load benchmarks
    To better respond to external factors like utility pricing, take an inventory of your building equipment and establish a baseline of performance at all times of the day. Improving efficiency is all about determining how to manage a building’s base load and making adjustments when grid-wide energy use and costs peak. It’s not one or the other.
    With this insight, you can ensure your building is only using the amount of power necessary at specific times, helping to squeeze out as much energy savings as possible.

  1. Don’t ignore the obvious when looking for improvements
    In your busy day-to-day life of managing a building, it’s easy to fall into a mode of responding to the most urgent needs and overlooking seemingly minor tweaks. However, what initially looks insignificant can potentially be a gold mine for energy savings. Take HVAC system alarms for example which are so routine they’re often ignored. These alarms, however, not only highlight a concern that needs near-term attention, but analysed in aggregate they can show patterns that indicate much larger issues and opportunities.
    Using technology to your advantage can ensure you don’t overlook the obvious. And now, cloud-based software like Honeywell Attune can help ease the burden of synthesising data generated by your building and accelerate the discovery process to provide smart, targeted recommendations for efficiency improvements.

  1. Assume energy efficiency opportunities are always available
    While it’s true that a newer building may not have as many savings opportunities as an older building — or one that’s been poorly managed — all buildings will display some level of degradation, and steps can be taken to mitigate or slow that process. It’s important to adopt the mindset that there are energy-efficiency opportunities in all buildings. For example, we’ve seen new buildings that weren’t properly commissioned from the outset. As a result, we uncovered significant efficiency opportunities, catching what was initially missed.

Whether you’re managing a school campus or in charge of a hospital site, improving energy efficiency is likely an ongoing theme in your daily operations. Use these pieces of advice as a starting framework to give these efforts the necessary, holistic attention they deserve.

However, also keep in mind that improving efficiency is more than just following a series of steps. It takes establishing a culture that believes there’s always a better way to do things — and a culture that is committed to uncovering the insights necessary to make those improvements.

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Reducing your carbon footprint in the FM sector

FM companies are introducing new initiatives to help manage client premises more sustainably, explains George Parish, HSEQ Director, at Grosvenor Services

Like many industries, the FM sector is striving to make more efficient use of resources and reduce waste. There are a growing number of initiatives that are being adopted by FM service providers to reduce their carbon footprint, while at the same time helping client organisations to cut costs, and build their reputations for corporate responsibility.

Setting the standard

International standards can be used as a framework to reduce environmental impact and to support the sustainability goals of FM clients. For example, the international energy management standard, ISO 50001, supports energy management practices that help organisations reduce energy consumption, cut costs and meet environmental requirements. The standard is a natural addition to ISO 14001, linked to reducing resource usage, waste and costs. Holding these type of certifications gives organisations the confidence that they have chosen a service provider which has achieved third party verification and the assurance that it has proven sustainability credentials.

Evaluate impacts

Naturally clients will have their own environmental targets and the facilities service provider should work with them to support their goals. A good starting point for any business is to identify the greatest impacts that it has on the environment such as vehicle emissions and electricity and gas usage. Through initiating activities like an energy audit, you can then look at practical ways to reduce the amount used and set out an action plan to improve your carbon footprint.

Conducting regular asset studies and assessing the cost and payback period of malfunctioning or poorly functioning equipment, will help you clearly see the upfront replacement cost and the projected savings which can result.

Acting as the eyes and ears

Another option is to get your FM partner acting as the ‘first line of defence’ in terms of reporting minor maintenance issues that may become major – if left unattended to. Having an onsite professional remedy the problem can help organisations avoid having to call out for expensive maintenance or even replacement solutions, with its attendant cost and travel-related impact on the environment. Similarly, if they are up to speed on your environmental policies and procedures, they can notify you of any energy wastage or actually take action themselves. This can be anything from putting unattended screens into sleep mode or turning off heating or air conditioning.

Fully equipped

FM service providers will often provide their own systems and equipment, which are typically more effective – and less costly to run – than equipment that might have come with the building, helping to reduce energy and maintenance costs.

Outsourcing to a facilities management company also means that expensive items of equipment need not be sourced for every site, but can be called on as and when required. This means that companies can avoid the prospect of having expensive equipment lie idle for long periods of time – with its consequent financial cost and the need to replicate that equipment for each individual site.

A reputable FM service partner will use products and equipment on a day-to-day basis that can contribute greatly to minimising an organisation’s carbon footprint, for example, using environmentally friendly cleaning products and microfibre cleaning cloths and mops. Products that are in powder form instead of liquid form can significantly reduce transport and delivery costs. As water is added to the super-concentrates at the point of use, the amount of product to be shipped and handled is greatly reduced. The environmental benefits are considerable, in terms of reduced packaging, carbon emissions and road miles.

Using fleets with low CO2 and fuel efficient cars and vans is another way that FM service providers can improve their environmental footprint.

Smart use of technology

Finally, advances in technology provide new ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Many companies are already starting to use dedicated systems to monitor and better manage their energy usage. Remote monitoring is another trend contributing to sustainable practices, resulting in a greater shift towards planned maintenance – and away from much more expensive emergency maintenance. Greater availability of data is enabling companies to develop systems of predictive maintenance that are super-smart and super-efficient.

What’s more, smart use of data generated by surveillance and other systems can be used to manage other facility services, like cleaning provision, more effectively; if a room isn’t used as much as others, it may not require the same regularity or intensity of cleaning.

So what’s stopping you?

There are not many procedures that are the same today as they were decades ago. Advancements in machinery, products and technologies mean that more environmentally friendly methods can be used in every business sector, whilst maintaining the highest standards of facilities management. www.grosvenorservices.com

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