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On Target for Monitoring

13 April 2010

A growing focus on obtaining accurate and current data on energy use across property portfolios will from this month become more critical as the first phase of the CRC gets underway. Using experts to interpret the data informs energy saving investment decisions

TOTAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT (TEM) has been working with clients since 1991 offering energy saving recommendations and action plans. It has seen a recent surge in clients paying close attention to their energy spend as it accounts for an increasing proportion of expenditure. With environmental and sustainability issues rapidly becoming a key part of an organisation’s CSR objectives, knowing how much energy a site uses and when it is used is imperative.
The saying ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’ is certainly true. If an organisation wishes to manage its energy, reviewing usage data is crucial. If an electricity supply is sizeable, FMs have the provision to receive half hourly data (a meter reading taken every 30 minutes automatically and provided by the supplier or data collector) from the meter. It is still possible to receive similar data on smaller suppliers through the installation a ‘smart meter’.
The management and analysis of half hourly data - Targeting and Monitoring (T&M) - can be undertaken by TEM. In any thorough T&M activity, the fundamentals of the supply should be analysed, and TEM looks at the key facets of a supply that may flag an anomaly in the usage. If these anomalies go unnoticed, they can prove extremely costly.
As Andrew Bowden, MD of TEM, explains, “Organisations should undertake T&M activity on, at least, their major half hourly and non half hourly supplies. At one of TEM’s clients sites in Guildford, Surrey, a 23 percent saving on its 2008 electricity spend was achieved through the implementation of a T&M programme, which highlighted that the plant run times were unnecessary for the function of the building. Clearly in the current economic climate, savings of this magnitude are significant and no organisation would wish to be throwing money away.”
Put simply, when used correctly the data made available from smart meters and half hourly meters increases an organisation’s awareness of how its buildings use energy, and most importantly, sheds light on the specific usage profile, and enables building managers to assess the specific times energy is being used. The function of a T&M programme is to visually illustrate where energy is being used, in a user friendly format, to make the necessary changes to the day to day running of the building.
MWB Business Exchange Plc is the UK’s second largest provider of serviced office space and currently operates a portfolio of over 70 centres throughout the UK, providing more than 20,000 workstations and 300 meeting and conference rooms. Anita Adams, Property Services Director at MWB Business Exchange, explains the need for ensuring the organisation knows how much energy is being used and where: “With energy prices rising in the long term, it is essential that MWB Business Exchange has control of what it is using, and where it is being used. Our clients rely on us to ensure we are doing all we can to use energy efficiently, as well as limiting our business activity’s impact on the environment. Through the use of T&M we can be confident that our centres are only using energy when they should be. It is a very valuable tool.”
Working with TEM, MWB Business Exchange has driven down its total energy use by 10 percent with low or no capital expenditure solutions.
Accurate data
As a first step towards lowering its environmental impact, MWB Business Exchange installed check meters (sub metering) linked to data logging equipment. With this technology installed, MWB and TEM, could access accurate data which could then be processed for analysis by its T&M team. “We knew that to ensure the targeting and monitoring program was successful we needed access to the most accurate data possible. This can then be analysed by TEM and we receive weekly reports that bring to our attention any unusual usage. We then work with the team at TEM to correct any problems. T&M plays a large part in the management of our expenditure on energy at a time when all businesses need to watch all areas of expense.”
She continued, “We also limit our exposure to the gas and electricity markets by seeking professional advice on utility contracts. We work with TEM to ensure that we are paying the lowest market rates available, and we also receive advice on market trends and movements. This allows TEM to place contracts early for us. This year we saved over 20 percent on our annual electricity spend by keeping a close eye on the market.”
Bowden concludes, “Many of TEM’s clients are pursuing T&M schemes. Many buildings are using large amounts of energy unnecessarily and thanks to a number of T&M programmes undertaken, clients have seen substantial savings – one site in particular saved over 25 percent of its annual energy spend.
It has a three step process to energy efficiency:
1. the identification of the anomaly
2. investigate and identify the cause of the anomaly
3. take corrective action where appropriate.
Any organisation looking to reduce its energy usage needs to create a strategy that takes both a top down and bottom up approach. TEM has devised an Energy Master Plan, which includes T&M and tackles all areas of a building. Andrew Bowden explains, “It is important that the building use is factored in when looking at an energy strategy. At TEM, we look to create a bespoke approach for our clients including detailed surveys, T&M, automated meter reading and bring it all together with a variety of options in reporting. With the introduction of the CarbonReduction Commitment this month, the requirement for organisations to reduce its energy usage will be even more important as it is one of the key metrics in determining the league table position and consequently the repayment from the Environment Agency.”
When any organisation implements an energy management strategy, everyone must be involved. From the management at the top of the organisation, to the employees working in a building. Everyone is key in the delivery of a successful strategy. Whilst changing out central plant and light bulbs for more efficient equipment plays a key role in reducing a buildings energy usage, behavioural change needs to be enforced as well. Tenants/occupants need to be involved to ensure they do not leave lights on  unnecessarily or attempt to heat and cool two areas in close proximity as this can account for a surprising amount of unnecessary usage.
Bowden recognises that when an organisation designs an energy management strategy, it needs to include several methods of reducing usage. “There is not one single tactic that can be used to reduce usage, the best way is by utilising several energy management tools harmoniously working to improve efficiency. However it is fair to say that T & M should be used as the cornerstone of any energy management plan.”

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