Implementing a structured energy management plan

Priva UK, energy management, control, BMS
Effective energy management — Gavin Holvey.

A scattershot approach to saving energy will never be as effective as a structured strategy. Gavin Holvey of Priva UK explains how putting in place a framework for energy management can unlock much deeper energy savings than an ad hoc approach.

It used to be that energy management was typically dealt with on an ad hoc basis (if it was dealt with at all!). Now, however, ‘big-picture’ ideas of structure and strategy are rising in popularity. Nowhere is this illustrated more strikingly than in the number of organisations choosing certification to the ISO 50001 global energy-management standard.

Between 2011 and 2012, this ISO saw a 332% jump in the number of certifications awarded for ISO 50001, an increase of 1522 certifications. So how does ISO 50001 work, and can implementing this type of structured approach to energy management actually boost energy saving?

For many organisations, the picture of energy efficiency looks like this.

• Single instances of energy waste are dealt with on a case by case basis.

• Energy-saving equipment is installed in isolation.

• Different departments or zones manage energy independently of one another.

This type of scattershot approach can, and does, yield some energy savings — but without looking at the big picture, many more opportunities for energy savings are likely to be missed.

It’s a mistake to assume that energy savings come only from upgrading low-energy equipment or changing settings to cut out needless energy drains. Some of the most significant and sustained energy savings come from people within the organisation changing their attitudes towards energy use.

A structured energy-management plan can be used to underpin a programme of behavioural change, getting staff to change their energy-wasting ways, and it can be used to set and achieve energy-saving targets. Putting in place an energy strategy can also influence external parties, giving clients and suppliers’ confidence that the organisation is reliable, quality-focused and environmentally-responsible.

However, to foster a company culture where energy efficiency is prioritised, an orderly framework is needed. This is where schemes like ISO 50001 come in. ISO, or the International Organization for Standardization, is a highly-regarded independent body dedicated to helping to increase good practice and efficiency within all types of organisations. ISO 50001 (Energy Management) is a voluntary standard designed to support organisations to use energy more efficiently.

ISO 50001 provides a framework of requirements for organisations to develop a policy for more efficient use of energy. By fixing targets and objectives to meet this policy and using gathered data to better understand a site’s energy consumption, it’s possible to continually reassess and improve energy management.

Priva UK, energy management, control, BMS

ISO 50001 is just one example of a structured approach to energy management. Many organisations put in place tailored strategies, rather than going down the route of official certification. However, what most energy-management strategies have in common is a ‘plan, do, study, act’ structure.

Often called the Deming Cycle (after Dr W. Edwards Deming), a ‘plan, do, study, act’ structure is, as the name suggests, a cycle. It’s one that is intended to run continually, allowing organisations to constantly re-examine their own energy management.

In the ‘plan’ stage, an energy-management goal is identified, success metrics are defined, and a plan of action is formulated. This stage involves discussion of relevant legislation, carbon targets and KPIs (key performance indicators).

In the ‘do’ stage, the plan of action is undertaken — for instance, with energy-saving technologies installed or behavioural change processes put in place. Relevant parts of the plan are documented and communicated to individuals across the organisation.

In the ‘study’ stage, an internal audit is carried out, with signs of progress and success monitored to test how well the plan worked, or if there are problems/areas for improvement.

In the ‘act’ stage, a management review can be used to revise policies, adjust goals, and change methods, in order to ensure a better outcome going forward. Following this stage, another plan of action is formulated, and the cycle continues.

For many building-services managers, ‘big-picture thinking’ along the lines of ISO 50001 and the Deming Cycle may sound good in theory, but in reality, there still remains a disconnect surrounding energy management. Although the uptake to ISO 50001 has grown hugely, there are still many more organisations where energy-management practices are rudimentary to say the least.

This is understandable, since the energy-management sphere can be complex, with technology rapidly evolving and market drivers constantly shifting. For this reason, Priva UK, a leading supplier of technologies for building automation, has produced a white paper to help facilities managers and building managers get to grips with their on-site energy use. The white paper is designed to provide a starting point for understanding energy management and formulating a strategy and framework.

This white paper, ‘Taking a structured approach to energy management’, is available to download for free at the Priva website:link below 

Gavin Holvey is the UK & Ireland sales manager of Priva UK.

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