Life after an ESOS audit
Organisations that had to comply with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) will have recently completed their energy audits. Yasir Sheikh of Trend Control Systems, examines what companies should do next to address any recommendations for lowering consumption.
It was in 2014 that the Government announced the introduction of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), its initiative for implementing Article 8 of the European Union (EU) Energy Efficiency Directive. It is now mandatory for ‘large enterprises’ employing 250 or more staff, or that have an annual turnover in excess of €50 million, to complete regular energy audits.
The Government believes that as well as making a significant contribution to its energy-efficiency strategy, ESOS will drive the take-up of energy-efficiency measures amongst businesses, thereby enhancing their competitiveness and contributing to the wider growth agenda. It is also of the view that it will help to balance the UK’s future energy demand and supply needs.
Over 9000 of the UK’s biggest companies are required to comply, and an ESOS assessment must be reviewed by a board level director and approved by a lead assessor. Companies will have had to measure total energy consumption for buildings, industrial processes and transport, identify areas of significant use, make cost-effective recommendations for lowering consumption and report compliance to the Environment Agency.
Government figures suggest any action taken as a result of findings from ESOS audits could lead to an average 0.7% saving per enterprise, which is expected to provide a net positive benefit to the UK of between £800 million and £3 billion, with a central estimate of £1.9 billion between 2015 and 2030.
According to the Carbon Trust, 20% of an organisation's annual energy costs are wasted through the use of inefficient equipment. Trend’s own research has discovered that as much as 39% of energy is wasted within the workplace. It’s a shocking statistic and highlights the fact that huge amounts of money are being tipped down the drain every day, and an inefficient BEMS can contribute to this figure.
Buildings are constantly evolving environments, so any change to layouts and occupancy patterns can make what was once a perfectly adequate BEMS completely ineffective. Combine this with incorrectly configured calendars and setpoints, conflicting heating and cooling technology, incorrectly calibrated control loops, valves, actuators and sensors, and the problems are obvious.
Similarly, performing reactive and ad-hoc maintenance can lead to unexpected costs, while poorly functioning equipment can drive up energy bills and CO2 emissions. It’s why a growing number of organisations are benefitting from a remotely monitored and centralised BEMS solution that is specifically tailored to their needs. This allows building services to be investigated and controlled off-site, not just by making time and setpoint changes, but also by carrying out remote diagnostics, configuring temporary fixes, addressing any energy-related problems and predicting ways that equipment could be used more efficiently through data analysis.
However, although we live in an age of ‘big data’ it is estimated by IDC that only 0.5% of all data collected is ever analysed. Certainly, some building owners and managers have convinced themselves that because the ability to gather huge amounts of data is there, then they must do it. Ultimately, collecting data from a BEMS just for the sake of it is a pointless exercise; it’s what you do with it that counts.
Organisations need to home in on high value, 'target-rich' data that can lead to positive change if it is given the appropriate analysis and follow-up action.
A good starting point is to monitor consumption and then use analytical software to collate, decipher and present the information in a meaningful format. Some solutions can even ‘learn’ how a building operates and automatically adjust control parameters by running algorithms that optimise efficiency, while smart strategies can initiate demand response, so that plant uses less energy during high peak periods.
This leads to potential opportunities for forward-thinking installation companies, which can capitalise on ESOS by helping organisations gather energy usage data and become more efficient by optimising the use of their building energy management systems (BEMS).
ESOS is just the latest in a range of schemes designed to reduce energy usage. Its success depends on whether the boards of the nation’s largest organisations decide to act upon the recommendations outlined in their audits. If they do, then the role of the BEMS will become even more vital, so maintaining it on a regular basis via physical or remote monitoring will help maximise any energy and cost saving opportunities provided by this technology.
Yasir Sheikh is global head of energy development at Trend Control Systems.