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Take control of energy savings

Author : Alan Hickman, managing director at Carlo Gavazzi UK

21 July 2017

Every facilities and estates manager knows the 10-80-10 rule. 10-80-10 reflects the fact that 10% of the total lifetime cost of a building is invested at the construction stage, 80% on operating it and 10% on dismantling and demolition.

Too often, the focus on building procurement is on cutting costs at the outset (the 10%) which can make buildings less comfortable for occupants and more difficult to operate (the 80%).

It makes sense to prioritise the operational costs at the inception of any building project, whether that’s new build or refurbishment. When it comes to operational expenditure, energy costs are a significant overhead for any business.

It’s not just fuel bills that are a reason for seeking to reduce energy consumption. Although less in the headlines these days as Brexit looms, energy legislation continues to get tighter.

It is widely expected that there will be no scrapping of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), Display Energy Certificates (DECs), Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, the Energy-related Products (ErP) Regulations and Building Regulations following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Indeed, the Climate Change Act commits the UK to tough carbon reduction targets. The fifth carbon budget aims for a 57% cut in emissions by 2032, based on 1990 levels.

The long-term goal remains a colossal reduction of 80% by 2050. Can we meet such ambitious targets in the current uncertain economic climate? I believe we can.

There is scope for massive energy reduction in the buildings sector and investment in energy-saving technology can be recouped relatively quickly.

According to the Building Research Establishment (BRE), controls are the easiest and most cost effective solution for saving energy in buildings. Buildings already represent 50% of global electricity consumption and, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), that figure is going to jump by 80% due to rapid urbanisation over the next 25 years.

The IEA argues that there is massive potential for improved energy efficiency in buildings. It says that up to 82% of energy efficiency measures remain untapped in buildings today; up to half of this energy efficiency potential can be realised through improved control of the building and the integration of systems that work together.

It’s worth remembering that energy is 40% of the life costs and 50% of the running costs of a building. Managing these costs effectively requires controls.

Facilities and estates managers of course need to build a persuasive case for any capital spend, including controls, and the BS EN 15232 standard is a useful tool in this regard.

BS EN 15232, due for review in 2018, describes methods for evaluating the influence of building automation and technical building management on the energy consumption of buildings.

It details four efficiency classes from A to D for this purpose, from non-energy efficient controls at Class D, through to a fully-programmable building energy management system (BEMS) at Class A.

The potential savings for thermal and electrical energy can be calculated for each class based on the building type and building purpose. The standard uses the values of the energy Class C as the reference for comparing the efficiency.

Class C would be the level required by Part L of the Building Regulations. According to the BRE, most of the building stock in the UK currently has controls at Class D or worse. For office buildings, installing Class C controls could realise 34% savings, while an additional 13% can be achieved through Class B controls.

Pre-programmable BEMS would satisfy the Class B criteria. To achieve Class A of the standard and realise the final 7% of energy savings, fully programmable BEMS would be required.

A massive 54% saving in energy can be achieved by the installation of BS EN 15232 Class A controls. Even greater savings can be realised in other building types.

For example, in some wholesale and retail service buildings it may be possible to reduce energy by 62%, and that figure is only slightly less (60%) in lecture halls.

These are considerable savings in running costs that mean that the expenditure on technology will pay for itself very quickly and make a significant contribution to cutting carbon.

Such savings will undoubtedly prove attractive to companies looking to cut costs in a tough economic climate. Yet, building controls may not deliver on their promise unless they are backed up by an effective monitoring and targeting strategy.

Over time, re-commissioning and optimisation of a BEMS to reflect a building’s current and actual usage can reduce a building’s CO2 emissions by up to 20%.

Metering data will provide visibility of excessive consumption and identify opportunities for savings through simple BEMS strategy adjustments.

Energy legislation is not going away and BS EN 15232 should be embraced by businesses to make a case for the installation of advanced building controls in all types of buildings.

The economic picture may be uncertain, but what is certain is that building energy management systems will save you money, reduce energy demand and cut carbon.

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