Whole-life costing needs good energy management

There are both financial and human-resources benefits in good energy management. Improvements in energy manager could, conservatively, reduce energy spend by 15 to 20% and energy-efficient buildings improve the comfort of occupants.
Good energy-management practice not only reduces energy spend but also delivers buildings that are more productive to work in. IAN BUDD explains.Life insurance policies are based on calculations of end of life pay-outs using factors such as lifestyle. If we smoke 40 cigarettes a day, we can expect to pay more in this life in order for our immediate relatives to get a decent pay out while we are starting, perhaps prematurely, on our next one. Costing issues This analogy sits well with modern buildings in that even before the first line is drawn on the architects’ paper, important costing issues have to be taken into account to make sure it ‘washes its own face’ in terms of cost and environmental efficiency. It is quite apposite to use the analogy of smoking in the context of modern commercial buildings, as they are by far the biggest fossil-fuel polluters in the UK — even more than the much-maligned automobile — and their owners and operators are under increasing pressure to improve their environmental performance. Figures reveal that buildings are responsible for about half of all carbon-dioxide emissions in the UK and are the highest users of fossil fuels. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the Government has committed to reducing the UK’s carbon-dioxide emissions by 12.5% (on 1990 levels) by 2012. Key issue With energy prices expected to increase by 30% or more, energy efficiency is fast becoming a key issue for the construction industry in terms of financial and environmental cost. New UK and EU legislation, such as the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, will also move energy efficiency up company agendas. The only way that sustainable reduction can be achieved is by targeting buildings and encouraging their owners and facilities managers to improve their energy management. Alternatively, on new builds, developers and architects must sit down and build sustainable technology into the fabric of the new building to ensure the construction is eco-friendly from day one and throughout the life cycle of the building. The obvious benefit in adopting good energy-management practice is financial. Each year in the UK, more than £13 billion is spent on energy for non-domestic buildings. By adopting improvements in energy management, it is estimated that most buildings in the UK could save a conservative 15 to 20% of their annual energy spend. This results in lower carbon-dioxide emissions and lower Climate Change Levy costs. Comfort There is also a less tangible human-resources benefit. Empirical evidence suggests that the comfort of occupants is improved in energy-efficient buildings. Studies have shown that buildings with good energy efficiency have higher levels of occupant comfort, health and productivity. In any building, the major cost will be staff salaries, so it makes sense to adopt procedures that encourage loyalty and reduce absenteeism. With new-builds, ‘intelligent-building’ expertise should be involved as early as possible in the design process, particularly in the specification of mechanical and electrical plant. Often, systems which look well-designed on paper can become unmanageable on site. A post-handover review should be conducted by an independent party to ensure system problems are identified and acted on. For the rest of the building’s life, its performance must be continually monitored. It is also crucial to train staff in the new building’s environmental systems to ensure they are operated as designed. Clearly these are changing times for the construction industry, which may in the past have regarded energy efficiency issues as being optional extras or not applicable in a business context. That is no longer the case; indeed, there are genuine business benefits in striving for optimum energy efficiency. Words are nothing more than hot air. What about action? At Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) we are working closely to help developers transform what were five rather dilapidated teaching hospitals into a modern and integrated technical success story. We have been involved with this £400 million PFI from its inception, and our area of expertise will be the control of the technical ‘brain’ that will run every aspect of what has been heralded as the UK’s first ‘super hospital’. Our job will be to control, monitor the systems and make sure they interact with each and every aspect of the building, providing a safe, secure and comfortable environment for staff, patients and visitors. This is the first of a new generation of super hospitals, where patients and specialists are housed under one roof — saving cost and reduce the likelihood of cancelled operations. This is no small feat. As work on the 1600+ bed facility has now commenced we have already provided details of the complex system that will drive the 6-storey centre of medical excellence that includes more than 30 theatres and, with 3600 spaces, the largest car park in Europe. We are providing the 11 000-point building management system. which not only controls passive elements such as temperature, but also automatically checks all major plant items, including lifts, to ensure they are operating at optimum performance and guaranteeing zero energy wastage. Planning stages The important message is that we designed the fully integrated systems along with primary developer Bovis at the earliest planning stages. They include fire alarms, security systems (‘baby tagging’, staff and patient panic alarms, and access control) as well as paging systems for medic al staff, to name but a few. The massive life-cycle potential and the prospect of working on the project for the next 38 years is a trend that the building industry will see more and more of as construction companies and technology providers look to become partners for life. This is because our brief has gone beyond merely providing the systems. By the time the hospital is completed in 2009, we will have delivered against specific targets, as each of the partners in the consortium has different priorities from the development. These include cost control, operating priorities, availability and flexibility — and we have had to satisfy all of these criteria. Listening to what has been required has been a significant part of the brief and something that will add value to the entire project throughout its 38-year life. In conclusion, our role is like that of an insurance company — to accurately pinpoint the lifestyle of the building and put in place the technology that will help it to perform those tasks at an optimum level from the outset and, smoking or non-smoking, for the rest of its life. Ian Budd is a director with Tour Andover Controls Ltd, Smisby Road, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics LE65 2UE.
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