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Saving Begins at Home

10 December 2010

Dewi Jones

As the public sector comes under pressure to reduce costs and consolidate its operations, Amey’s recent agreement with the Home Office on energy management and carbon reductions points to the future. Jane Fenwick reports

AMEY AND BRITISH GAS have entered into a partnership for shared services and investment on a 50:50 basis on behalf of the Home Office, and then monitor the results and recoup the energy savings to repay the investment. The benefits of lower operational costs go to the Home Office. This tie up with British Gas stems from Amey’s relationship with energy consultants, EBMS with whom it has worked over time, and which has been acquired by British Gas.
As Dewi Jones, Operations Director Amey Built Environment, (criminal justice sector)explained, “Gainshare agreements are not unusual, but this one takes risk from the customer. It is a flexible model that can be applied across the country.”
This three year deal will see Amey and British Gas work together to maximise the efficiency of all the Home Office property in its south east region extending from The Wash, across to Leicester and down to Southampton.
Amey already provides total FM services to the Home Office across this region in a £7.3m total FM contract deal, and it has built up an extensive knowledge and understanding of the department’s property, systems and infrastructure. This energy management deal builds on this knowledge and extends it to other departments including the Ministry of Justice, NOMS, the UK Border Agency, IPS (Identity and Passport Service) and the NPIA (National Policing Improvement Agency).
As Jones explained, “Through delivery of soft and hard FM services to the Home Office estate, we have access to its power plants and have built up knowledge and data about the buildings. We already have a role as asset managers and assist in checking bills against usage and ensure payment of bills on time. “
Jones continued: “This contract has two strands – an engineering approach involving the optimisation of chillers and boilers, and adjusting switch on and off times, and secondly,
investment in equipment. We are monitoring and managing usage of plant and equipment in buildings, and remote monitoring of BMS where these are installed, to discover trends and indentify anomolies. These include local manual overrides that have unintended consequences on heating and ventilating systems and leaving them operating on full power for longer than needed, for example.
Since we started the contract in July, energy utilisation alone has saved £40,000 in without much intervention, helping to reduce the total Home Office’s £7m energy bill.”
As the Civil Service seeks to shrink its property holdings, this information can be fed into these decisions and utility usage for each buildings will be published on the DECC website.
A key aspect of this deal is investment in energy saving equipment to optimise existing plant. For example, optimisation equipment has been installed on 52 boilers in 20 buildings and in a Home Office property in Croydon, a redundant and inefficient desiccant wheel in the HVAC system has been removed.
Another target area for efficiency savings is the installation of standalone cooling systems for in server rooms so that a whole building does not have to be cooled just to keep the server room at the right temperature.
Amey and BG provides the funding for these investment which typically range from about £5,000 to £60-70,000 per project. As a three year contract, it is designed to tie in with the FM contract which also lasts for another 3 years.
Jones explained, “We are Identifying capital investment projects of low cost that we can roll out quickly. This kind of investment in energy saving is likely to give quick return within about two years. We are not at this stage not looking at big changes to plant installations.”
Jones also explained that energy monitoring equipment is not widely installed across the Home Office estate and currently much of the monitoring is manual. As a result, in additon to an energy manager and a sustainability manager dedicated to the contract, Amey’s M&E staff are monitoring the equipment they maintain to optimise energy efficiency. Amey has developed a checklist for them for this purpose.
“We are just embarking on how to change behaviours,” Jones continued. “We are working with the Home Office to, for example, consider changing the hours that Amey cleans the facilities including day time cleaning to reduce lighting consumption, and switching off heating earlier. We are consulting with users of the buildings and looking at ideas from the staff.
“To better understand the relationship between energy costs and behaviours, we have linked up with behavioural psychologist, Professor Chris Clegg to show us how people interact with buildings and to analyse the importance of behaviour in operating in an environmental responsibility way.”
Jones is clearly looking beyond the three year contract, saying of the expected savings of £1.3m, “This is the start of the journey.”

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