Improving building-energy performance without expense
The urgent need for organisations to achieve energy efficiency savings to combat spiralling energy costs and improve carbon performance can be achieved without any upfront investment, says Gary Dowsett of Ener-G Controls.
There is a common misconception that installing and operating energy efficient or renewable technologies is out of budget.
The availability of the government's Green Deal loans for business may have been delayed, but commercial shared-savings agreements, such as the guaranteed savings schemes provided by Ener-G, provide the results businesses are looking for on a 'pay-as-you-save' basis. In addition, incentives such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed in Tariff can also make energy saving financially attractive. The availability of Enhanced Capital Allowances also makes energy saving technologies financially attractive.
Such schemes can deliver the step change required — paid for via the financial and operational returns.
My top tips for boosting energy performance are summarised below.
1. Make energy a board room, not just a plant room issue.
It is essential to lead from the top in developing and delivering a robust strategic plan. All organisations require a detailed action plan for reducing energy use and carbon emissions that sets out how they will control and reduce energy consumption to mitigate rising costs; how they will adopt sustainable and renewable practices and technologies; how they will measure and monitor performance; and, crucially, how they will keep the momentum going in the medium and long term. It is crucial to review your plan regularly and implement a reporting system to evaluate progress.
2. Measure your energy consumption and understand how, when and where you are using it.
If you are to save energy, the first step is to gain a true insight into how you are using it. Smart metering provides frequent and accurate energy-consumption data. This data can then be collated, analysed and transformed into the useful information you require using automatic monitoring and targeting software. This will enable you to monitor energy consumption, identify waste, highlight areas for improvement and benchmark your consumption against other similar buildings or organisations.
Installing a building energy controls system delivers rapid payback on investment.
3. Look first to energy efficiency to mitigate the pressure of rising energy costs.
The priority for every organisation must be to avoid consuming energy in the first place. Start with the quick wins such as installing a building energy controls system. New-generation systems, such as Ener-G's E-magine technology will deliver rapid payback on investment and reduce taxes on carbon emissions. Look for a system that offers the dual benefit of acting as an automatic monitoring and targeting system that will monitor, measure and analyse consumption to assist with carbon reporting and managing efficiency. Energy-efficient lighting will also deliver quick returns, and incorporating a lighting strategy into your controls multiplies the savings.
4. Complete a comprehensive on-site energy survey leading to a costed implementation plan.
This is often an illuminating exercise that will pinpoint inefficiencies and identify opportunities to stem wastage or utilise technologies — and can achieve an impressive return on investment. Start with the basics, such as checking heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems — as well as boilers, lighting, machinery and electrical items. Look for quick wins such as high night-time or weekend consumption and control of air conditioning. You must also examine the building fabric, exploring standards of insulation and repair. With the survey completed, the next step is to create a detailed and costed implementation plan of improvement — highlighting what measures will deliver the best return on investment and aligning these plans to fiscal and operational business planning.
5. Harness the power of your people by involving them in saving energy.
Involve all your people in the business-critical mission of saving energy. Monitor your energy consumption and share the headline results with them to highlight the issues and motivate them to achieve and witness the savings in real time. Consider appointing energy champions and engage cross-departmental teams to challenge existing processes, behaviours and infrastructure and identify and evaluate opportunities to rapidly improve energy performance.
6. Become a sustainable power generator.
On-site generation can provide some cost certainty and protection from volatile market rates. If you have a constant heat demand, combined heat and power can be an attractive option, as can heat pumps. The Renewable Heat Incentive, and Feed in Tariff can make micro-generation an attractive option. A guaranteed, tax-free, index-linked payment is worth serious consideration.
7. Optimise your voltage.
UK electricity is supplied at 240 V, yet electrical equipment is generally optimised to operate at between 216 and 253 V, leading to wasted energy and additional stress on appliances and plant. All users are typically wasting 5 to 25% of electricity purchased through failing to optimise their supply voltage through the use of dynamic voltage optimisation technology. Initial assessment can generally be undertaken through desk-top analysis of billing and data history, which will give an initial indication of voltage efficiency
The ENER-G ‘Quick Guide to Energy Saving at No Cost' is available free to download from the web address below. Click ‘downloads’ in the top bar.
Gary Dowsett is general manager and sales director with Ener-G Controls.
Further information:web address below, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. 01527 855072