The retail sector takes control

Published:  09 May, 2012

Trend Control Systems, BMS, controls

Any organisation seeking to reduce its carbon emissions should take a close look at its Building Energy Management System (BEMS). Yet, there is more to BEMS than just energy, says Clive Ball of Trend Control Systems.

The principal role of a BEMS is to regulate and monitor heating, ventilation and air conditioning – and often lighting too. A BEMS can efficiently control as much as 84% of a building’s energy usage.

Owners and tenants of non-domestic buildings are under mounting pressure to cut their energy usage and carbon emissions. They are faced with the prospect of higher utility prices and ever-more stringent legislation, not to mention public and stakeholder demands that they show high standards of corporate social responsibility. By applying a range of control and monitoring routines – both simple and sophisticated – a BEMS is capable of operating the building’s services in strict accordance with demand, avoiding unnecessary use of energy.

So what should the first priority be for hard-pressed energy and facilities managers? The logical answer is that they should focus on those areas where large energy savings can be made quickly and easily. Clive Ball is key account sales team leader for retail and leisure at Trend Control Systems and has a wealth of experience delivering solutions for an enviable client list that includes Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, M&S, B&Q and the Dixon Retail Group.

On energy-reduction strategies, Ball says: “Inverter drives on air-handling plant are just one way that retailers are looking to reduce plant loads where possible. The BEMS can profile occupancy rates and link to the inverter to reduce air volumes when customer rates are low, or we could use air-quality or CO2 sensors to ramp air volumes accordingly. Lighting is another prime candidate for that type of initiative using modern dimming technologies. Similarly, retailers may use BEMS to help with load balancing, or turning temperatures down at times when tariffs are high.”

To be effective in retail a BEMS strategy must adopt a cradle-to-grave philosophy, and encompass new build, extensions and revamps, effective facilities maintenance and, of course, improved energy efficiency.

A BEMS is an important tool in the drive to reduce energy consumption.

Ball continues: “In new build, we can assist with the standard specifications that can be deployed from store to store, ensuring consistency of operation and incorporating any energy initiatives that the retailer may have. We design the controls scheme, test and optimise it and then feed this information back into the standard specification for future stores. It’s a feedback loop that aims for constant improvement.”

Standardisation also answers a challenge specific to multi site operators which is one of scale and how to enable fast, effective day-to-day management of a huge enterprise. “A retailer may have 500 control parameters per store and more than 500 stores across the country, so if you want to take data from temperature sensors in the check-out areas (say) for benchmarking purposes, you need to do that quickly and accurately,” explains Ball.

Over the lifecycle of a retail store BEMS technology must also be easily adapted to suit many changes, with minimal downtime and continuous operation. For example, supermarket chains add convenience stores and petrol forecourt outlets, store extensions and revamps or introduce new energy strategies. “All current technology must be backwards compatible and plug and play with the existing system. That’s an important part of an effective retail solution“, says Ball.

Many retailers are also integrating their computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) and BEMS systems. “A work ticket can be raised, the work carried out and then it can be closed on the CAFM system, with data from the BEMS used to confirm that the work has been done,” explains Ball. “The lifecycle asset record of a boiler, for example, can be used to benchmark different boiler systems and then a buying decision can be assisted by looking at capital versus maintenance costs.”

Essentially a BEMS must be at the heart of retailers’ constant striving for more efficient operation. “You can’t look at any one of the elements – new build, refurbishment, energy and FM in isolation.” says Ball. “There needs to be a holistic approach.”



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