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Future savings based on CSI Energy!

Author : Tim Fryer

20 December 2012

In a bid to make energy management a more scientific and reliable activity, GSH has focussed on a new service. Tim Fryer spoke to the company’s Associate Director of Energy, Aneysha Minocha about how the offering works

Aneysha Minocha, GSH’s Associate Director of Energy

The main thrust of the new service is to provide customers with an accurate profile of energy usuage, where savings can be made and guarantees that they will be. Aneysha Minocha explained: “A lot of it is driven by the market and our customers and where they see things heading. A lot of customers want guarantees as they say they have had energy reports done before but when they have implemented them they have not received the energy savings that they were expecting. So those days have gone and customers need more certainty in their budgets and forecasts. And as energy is an increasing percentage of every businesses operating model purely down to the volatility of the market it makes sense to be offering guarantees and ours is based on a scientific evaluation and thermal evaluation and the dynamic simulation models to make sure that it is spot on.

“We call it our Forensic Audit, and the reason we call it forensic is because we go down to the forensic detail of every asset and how it is performing. It has got four parts to it. We will get the building or portfolio data up front, we will analyse historical data and benchmark it, normalise it for specific useage etc following a benchmarking against industry standards to see how it is performing – good, typical or worse – and then focus in on the whole building. So for the whole portfolio we can focus on the worst performing or the worst consumers in the portfolio. We then can conduct a site audit, which will be a multi-skilled audit. So there will be people from my team who will be HVAC specialists, electrical specialists and there will be control specialists who go in. They will talk to the FMs to understand what the specific useage patterns are, quirky behaviours – every organisation and every building has its own little things that need to be taken onto account. That then, along with all the plant information, is captured along with how it is performing and is all fed in with all the architectural drawings as we also know what the thermal make-up of the building fabric is. All that information is then fed back into another part of my team and they start doing the thermal modelling and thermal dynamics of it.

All the data is compared to historical information to ensure accuracy before doing any predictive analysis. From start to finish the whole process can take anything from six to eight weeks, so how can that be representative of how a building will behave at different times of year. Minocha said: “When we are there for six to eight weeks we are not bridging seasons on the spot but we have historical data that goes back to billing or any other data the customer might have. Our software model is capable of modelling any location, take live weather data feeds and historical weather data from everywhere in the world and simulates it for every location and every season – the software is capable of modelling all of that and how that building will perform.”

The thermal modelling, which is core to the energy profile uses an off the shelf software solution that is used by design engineers. However this is the first time, GSH believes, that softwre of this nature is being used in the retrofit and existing buildings market. The reason the company concentrates on the existing buildings market is because it maintains them from a technical and engineering perspective, but also 98% of the buildings in the UK are already exist and construction rate is very low, so those are the ones that need most attention. At least half of these buildings are more than 20 years old and so are the most energy inefficient. The off-the-shelf software was not immediately applicable to the retrofit market so GSH’s specialists adapted it to make it very specific to how the nature of a building will interact once it is built and once its use has changed over time. “From an FM perspective,” continued Minocha, “once this model is built, any time there is any change in the workplace, an new configuration, adding a new data or server room, adding a new catering facility or actually churn in the building we can model that back again. It becomes a very easy iterative process after it has been built the first time.”

Is this a way of attracting new customers? Not yet according to Minocha: “We haven’t seen that yet – I don’t think the industry has matured to that level. It is more that we have a technical services contract with you, could we also look at the energy. We believe energy-lead maintenance is the way forward for our customers, and a few of them are starting to recognise that.”

The savings an FM can make can depend on a number of factors, as Minocha explained: “One of the key variables is if the customer has done something before. Another variable is how long their leases are as this can vary, also depending on the lease structure who is responsible for paying the bills. Then the key question of how much they want to invest, including in people and time. And the final one from a strategic perspective – what is the acceptable business payback that they would be willing to consider. If a customer says that it is 12 months then that limits the amount of savings that we can put on the table, and some customers that are more forward thinking and a bit more cash rich can look at five or six year paybacks. But if a customer has previously not done anything, the leases were favourable and there were no limits on payback time, then typically up to about 25% is achievable.

“There are things like BMS control strategies, making sure your operational settings are right, getting the drives on motors, putting some timers in places - those are easy wins and to be honest most customers have done all of that. The real challenge is to find really sustainable energy savings that will actually reduce your operating cost over a longer period of time. I think in general FMs are more aware and energy has become part of the FMs role over a period of time. But from a technical perspective, for FMs who are used to dealing with front of house, catering, cleaning, security and so on, I think that there is still some way to go on energy issues.”


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