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Get them involved

23 January 2013

The success of many energy-saving initiatives depends heavily on the level of stakeholder engagement, so that the approach to project management can be just as important as the technologies being deployed, says Geoff Newman.

In the last few years over 5,000 of our energy-saving products have been installed in a wide range of public and private sector buildings. In most cases we have managed the project, from initial feasibility studies through to final commissioning and validation of energy-savings. This experience has clearly demonstrated the importance of stakeholder engagement in the successful implementation of new technologies in existing facilities.

The key factor is that in any such project there are typically a number of people who can influence its success. So, from the start, it’s important to identify all stakeholders which the project ‘touches’ and ensure they are included. The last thing you want is for someone to intervene saying “I didn’t know this was happening” when the project has already begun.

For example, many such projects involve retrofitting energy-saving equipment to existing building services plant. Initially the proposed technology may be identified by an in-house FM or an FM service provider, who will typically carry out an initial evaluation of the product and perhaps talk to other organisations that have used it. Where an FM service provider is leading the initiative, they will clearly need to introduce the concept, and perhaps the technology provider, to their client.

Assuming senior managers in the organisation are happy with the concept in principle, the next stage will involve the finance or procurement department to build a business case. Remember a robust asset log and consumption data not only helps with building the business case but is also important during the delivery of the project.

Clearly, any retrofit project will require access to the necessary areas within the estate. For example, our experience lies in the retrofit of the M2G intelligent boiler load optimiser, which when retrofitted to existing boilers will typically reduce energy consumption by between 10% and 25% by preventing the inherent problem of boiler dry cycling (see for more information about this).

So, in the case of the M2G, the project will involve arranging access to all boilers listed on the asset log and included in the project, often across many different properties. This requires close liaison and effective communication with the managers of each building to ensure that plant rooms are accessible at the appropriate times. Such people will also need to understand the technology, the purpose of the project and be reassured that their building will be unaffected e.g. in terms of ambient temperatures and designed set points.

Our product integrates with other controls, such as a building management system (BMS) and weather compensation. It does not affect these systems but the company responsible for maintaining the BMS must be aware of the project and how the technologies complement each other. Similarly, if another company is maintaining the boilers they should be made aware of what is being done and how the technology controls the boiler and what the benefits are for the client.

Once the project has been completed there will also be a desire to measure the energy savings to ensure the business case has been realised. This may require further engagement with maintenance providers to gain data on energy consumption.

The ultimate purpose of any such project is to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, a very important objective that justifies the effort required to ensure that stakeholder engagement is integral to the project management.

Of course, such extensive stakeholder engagement can be very time-consuming and taxing on resources but it will mitigate obstacles to deliver a seamless project. It is therefore important to verify that the technology provider can take care of much of this, with the FM providing contact details etc. An experienced technology provider will have done this many times before so if you’ve checked out their track record you can feel secure in leaving the project in their hands.

Geoff Newman is Marketing Director with Sabien Technology

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