Innovation leads the way to comfort and efficiency

Jon Belfield, BCIA
Jon Belfield

Jon Belfield, President of the Building Controls Industry Association explores how connected buildings can help to achieve a substantial reduction in carbon emissions and why innovative methods increase energy efficiency while also reducing running costs.

Innovation is the main driving force behind many things we simply take for granted; whether that’s jumping on the plane to enjoy a family holiday, booking a trip to the theatre on our smart phones or enjoying the latest box office blockbuster at the cinema.

Technology continues to evolve at a pace, and this gives the building controls sector endless opportunities to play a significant role in the future of smart and connected buildings. This is an exciting time to take up a career as a building controls engineer and something we must promote as the level of sophistication in commercial buildings continues to rise.

As I see it, we are fully embracing these changes; now more than ever, building owners and managers are making energy consumption a top priority in their business plans. Ultimately, this not only meets government targets, but it also reduces running costs while improving overall comfort and wellbeing for occupants.

Energy on the agenda

A fine example of this is our recent BCIA Energy Management Award Winner, Portal Building Controls, for their London School of Economics Energy Refit. LSE targeted a 54% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 and as such established a Carbon Management Plan to tackle this.

Portal Building Controls enhanced the control and efficiency of numerous systems by designing and implementing energy control measures. One of the key aspects was serial communication to all HVAC plant, solar PV (photovoltaics) and energy metering. This provided a full picture of energy consumption which identified where improvements and savings could be made.

With energy usage clearly visible, an innovative new strategy was implemented to optimise the data collected. As a result, plant was upgraded which led to an improvement in occupants’ satisfaction thanks to a greater element of control over their working environment. Furthermore, the first upgrade programme is currently saving 1500 tonnes of CO2 yearly which translates into upwards of £230,000 per annum in energy savings.

Data analytics

There has been a surge in the use of data analytics by savvy building owners and managers. Analysing building data is integral to the outcome of reducing energy usage and cutting costs, as ably demonstrated by Demand Logic who claimed honours for the Technical Innovation of the Year – Projects Award at this year’s BCIA Awards. This was for their installation at 155 Moorgate, London.

Jon Belfield, BCIA
Innovation: the driving force behind many things we take for granted.

The 155 Moorgate headquarters had a £250,000 annual energy bill and they wanted to reduce their carbon emissions and identify potential savings in this area. Demand Logic, provided clear and actionable intelligence through data analytics to help reduce energy spend and cost of maintenance while also increasing the comfort and wellbeing of occupants.

While using the existing Building Management System (BMS) infrastructure, Demand Logic’s contemporary Data Acquisition Device (DAD) gathered and visualised information from systems and plant, unlocking the ability to quickly identify energy wastage issues.

Within hours of installation, streams of data began flowing into the Demand Logic platform which helped the business owner of 155 Moorgate to highlight unexpected operation of plant and communicate directly with the site team to fix.


These are just two examples which highlight the huge transformation that can be achieved in commercial building within a short timeframe, with no inconvenience to occupants.

The new focus on wellbeing is a significant one. This is now something that building owners and managers must take into account to help create the best working environment to bring out the best of their employees.

It pays to have an innovative approach and take advantage of integration and connected devices in your commercial building.

This will ensure your building is continually optimised to maximise energy efficiency and in turn offer significant savings. Of course, this goes hand in hand with the skilled ‘innovative’ engineers who have the expertise to bring this to the fore to enhance the life-cycle of your building.

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