The BMS at the heart of CRC reporting
The masses of data that can be made available by a building-management system can make it easy to prepare CRC reports, with the help of additional specialist software — as Jennifer Eastman explains.
If you’re one of the lucky many to qualify for the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, you are no doubt scrabbling around with a multitude of spreadsheets to manage energy consumption data. Alternatively, you might be making yourself unpopular with the finance director by raising a budget request for yet another piece of technology to help you report for the CRC. But, have you ever considered that you might already have the technology under your roof to solve your CRC needs?
Building-management systems (BMSs) are absolute powerhouses and provide a simple way to integrate building services and automation. But, BMSs also naturally collect a plethora of data about energy consumption and efficiency to be exploited for energy management and CRC reporting. There are a number of ways to do this — but one of the simplest is using a BMS-compatible energy-management system with a dedicated CRC module, such as eSight.
Such an EMS will also integrate data from a range of other sources (meters, loggers, spreadsheets, invoices, statements and manual reads) so all energy-consumption data is in a central location ready to serve every CRC requirement fired at you.
First, an EMS will help you determine if you qualify for CRC and will help you select which meters need including in your CRC submission.
For the evidence pack, you need to provide ‘data records showing your energy supplies — such as copies of monthly invoices or statements from suppliers.... Where HHM [half-hourly] or AMR [automatic-reading) electricity meters are not available, utility-company meter readings should be the principal source of data. If “own meter readings” are used instead of utilities, verifiable records of such readings should be included’. An EMS such as eSight ticks all of these boxes. Not only will energy-consumption data be easily accessible from your BMS, meters or otherwise but you can also upload and store supplier statements, invoices and other evidence to use over and above BMS or meter-read data in CRC calculations. In addition, all data sets will be kept in its records.
Another requirement of the evidence pack is ‘structural records that define the scope of your organisation, the type(s) of sites within your organisation… and the types of energy you use’. Because of the way eSight assigns meters under sites and companies in a tree structure, these structural records can be automatically generated in seconds for inclusion in your evidence pack.
A third requirement for the evidence pack is ‘special event records covering any unusual events — e.g. meter breakdown, change of energy supplier, change in company structure’. Again, because of the natural creation of an audit trail within most EMSs, such ‘unusual events’ are already recorded and evidenced.
Following on from this, an EMS can provide a watertight audit trail — showing each time records are uploaded and updated, past energy-consumption history, copies of invoices and supplier statements and any other records you wish to keep (e.g. meter images, site maps, contacts etc.). So, should you ever be audited by the DECC, all the data will be available to be viewed and accessed.
Once the first year has been completed, an EMS may also make the reporting of subsequent years much simpler. Instead of having to dig out all the dusty folders from last year, records will have been retained and viewable, and the CRC can may even be carried across as a basis to start from for the new reporting year. If you are thinking that this advice is coming far too late — don’t panic; EMSs can usually import historic data.
Not only can an EMS solve your CRC needs, it can also help in a number of other ways. Unlike specific CRC software, an EMS adds a lot more value. It can be capable of energy monitoring and targeting to reduce energy consumption, invoice validation, tenant billing and energy dashboards to name but a few —and all from BMS data.
Web-enabled EMSs also work perfectly for organisations spread across the UK by taking data from each local BMS and feeding it into one central place for simple, organisation-wide CRC reporting and still provide local energy monitoring and targeting.
The CRC, in essence, is a good thing. As a country we need to achieve our targets of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. As individual business and organisations we also need to become more energy efficient to reduce bottom-line costs and improve financial health. But, it’s complicated, and the recent proposed simplifications are still, well, complicated. But an EMS used on top of your BMS can solve it all for you — energy consumption records, audit trails, records of DECC evidence pack submissions and a lot more.
The question is, how do you get the finance director to buy in to the BMS/EMS combo? Do a quick calculation of what it might cost in £40 fines per tonne of CO2 if it’s done wrong, add on the cost of the manpower spent scrabbling about with spreadsheets, and a quick cost-benefit analysis will show the way forward.
Jennifer Eastman is marketing manager with eSight Energy.