“Irus is more bespoke and sits in this market–place better than traditional BeMS”
With the Business sector consuming 56% of the electricity generated in the UK and accounting for about half of all emissions, and the UKs obligation of 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050. Companies and organisations have an overwhelming responsibility to manage their energy, efficiently.
Too many companies focus on the unit cost of energy rather than their consumption, it is considered a cost, rather than a service. But careful energy control will show a significant impact on their success, not only on the bottom line, but in terms of carbon footprint; by becoming a more appealing, greener organisation; by being perceived as fore runners in their industry; and as a major contributor to their Corporate Social Responsibility. A global CSR survey reported 84% of consumers seek out responsibly produced products whenever possible, making energy conscious companies far more attractive to them.
The greater the importance that is placed on energy control, the greater the impact will be on long-term efficiencies and competitiveness for those companies. Generating new business and forging closer relationships with customers and supply chains is another benefit.
When businesses view energy as a service in the same way they view logistics, for example, the sooner they will appreciate the advantages of maximising the use of that service rather than simply buying it cheaper. Cutting waste by only using energy when it is required; monitoring use; and controlling supply; combined with effective procurement; simply adds up to good business sense.
Businesses could be missing out on saving tens of thousands of pounds simply by using inefficient methods of control. An image of a Scrooge-like miserly boss walking around offices switching of lights and heat in unoccupied rooms springs to mind. But today, clever control can be completely invisible.
Using smarter technology cuts waste and provides the ability to measure, monitor and manage our living and working environments more than ever before. While developers and builders aim to yield maximum profits by installing minimum control requirements, it is up to energy managers to insist that buildings continually use only the minimum energy required.
Building Energy Management Systems make the control of equipment and therefore efficiencies easier. A typical system will control and monitor the mechanical and electrical equipment including ventilation, heating, lighting and power systems. Lifts, conveyors and other machinery can also be controlled. The buildings plant is connected to a central computer to enable control of on/off times. The plant being controlled is connected via data cables where supervisors can access all they need to monitor activity.
For airports, hospitals and other large complex buildings BeMS are a necessity. However, in other situations where there isn’t such complexity or the need to control heavy mechanical equipment, a bespoke, agile BeMS is more appropriate and less costly. Think of them in terms of a sledgehammer and a nutcracker – a similar outcome but unnecessary effort and cost is avoided.
Student accommodation is a good example of where this is the case. There are 2.3 million students in higher education establishments throughout the UK with around 600,000 of them living in purpose–built accommodation. 69% of current stock is owned by universities but they are increasingly becoming dependent on the rapidly growing private sector for new rooms. By the end of 2020, 74% of purpose–built rooms will come from the private sector. Providers of accommodation on this scale must ensure they are running efficiently but not at the expense of comfort.
Take a typical 500–bedroom block with 50 hot water tanks and around 60 kitchens. This is home to a population with unorthodox occupancy patterns. Keeping students comfortable while managing their use of energy is a major task for the accommodation/energy manager.
Without stereo-typing our student population, their lifestyles generally do not comply with routine norms. Nocturnal comings and goings, sleeping in until lectures beckon and extended periods away from campus for some home-cooking and getting the washing done – all contribute to the need for flexible monitoring and managing of energy supply to their living spaces.
Heating control that switches on at 7am for 2 hours and then again at 6pm for four hours takes no notice of whether the energy input is being used effectively. Likewise, a continuous flow of hot-water, ever-ready for student–demand can prove expensive.
What is required for the unique conditions of student accommodation is a control that can ‘see’ when a room is occupied, whatever time of day or night – adjust heat input accordingly, then reduce it when it’s empty again or windows are opened. Giving the students control to raise the temperature to suit their comfort level but ensuring predetermined temperatures cannot be exceeded or prevail when no longer required. In the case of hot-water, heating when tariffs are low and avoiding Triad warnings can make the ROI of the BeMS considerably quicker.
Mark Comerford was the Mechanical and Electrical Consultant for an accommodation project in Bath and comments on the distinction between a BeMS system and alternatives that have more dedicated and specific functions “Pretty much every job we work on involves a full Building Energy Management system, they tend to have a more holistic approach to building management, but they don’t drill into particular control strategies that are needed for each of the services.”
The University encouraged Mark to investigate Prefect Irus control and he quickly identified the benefits of the system. He continues “Irus is more bespoke and sits in this market–place better than traditional BeMS, its focus is on heating and ventilation and offers all the functions required.”
A central control system that uses the buildings existing electrical wiring (Mains Borne Signalling) negates the need for trunking and laying of data cabling with all the inherent disruption and interference to a buildings infrastructure that that entails, making it quicker and cost effective to install.
Saving energy is part of this story but ensuring the correct type of BeMS is specified will add up to a more efficient method for control.