Effective energy management becomes more important than ever before

With power being the biggest cost for both commercial and residential facilities, effective energy management is more important than ever before, both for businesses and the planet as a whole

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There are a number of steps businesses can take to enhance their energy management, such as installing systems to minimise energy usage and incorporating daylight harvesting

Energy management is defined as the process of controlling, monitoring and conserving energy – it involves practices such as metering and taking all possible opportunities to save energy. The economics of building ownership have become a major risk consideration in property development, particularly as energy management constitutes around 40 percent of building management costs. Therefore, every party involved, from those in development and operations to those in management and ownership, now has a significant role to play in energy performance. Indeed, being such a vital aspect to a corporation’s strategy, energy management is no longer left only in the hands of building and facilities managers; it is also considered at the most senior levels.

With typical energy consumption comprising more than 50 to 60 percent of operation costs, it is essential for facilities management to be at
the forefront

Power hungry
With the general public having a far deeper understanding of sustainability, energy management within the corporate sector is receiving more attention than ever before. As such, companies now take into consideration the ‘triple bottom line’, which entails economic, social and environmental factors. As the implementation of CSR policies has become imperative for businesses, sustainable development and energy management are the initial focus for most.

The primary principles of energy management are to audit, know your baseline, measure, determine your requirement and then retrofit or install to ensure efficient energy utilisation. Building energy management systems (BEMs) are computer-based systems that can assist this process by helping to monitor and control a building’s technical services, as well as the energy consumption of devices therein. BEMs provide data that enables a deep understanding of energy usage, and how performance can be managed and improved for individual cases. Every building manager needs to use BEMs in order to ensure efficient energy utilisation in their buildings.

There are many ways in which effective facilities management can promote energy efficiency in buildings. With typical energy consumption comprising more than 50 to 60 percent of operation costs, it is essential for facilities management to be at the forefront and for key stratagems to be implemented, such as maintenance policies and green operations. Indeed, facilities managers can be sustainability champions by reducing greenhouse emissions. A thorough understanding of energy and its use in buildings is essential – this way, you can understand your energy use per square metre and benchmark yourself with others. It is, in this regard, vital to create awareness in your building of energy utilisation and the impact it has on the environment, health and cost.

LEED Certification and Energy Star guidelines can be introduced as the basis of an energy programme and as a guide to how best practices can be achieved. Also, energy outlays can be tracked and published so as to raise the level of awareness for all employees, as well as stakeholders. Providing incentives for building occupants to achieve energy efficiency can also make a vast difference to performance.

As well as financial incentives, there is a social responsibility linked with the environmental impact of energy misuse in buildings, which includes the health of users. Furthermore, studies have shown that employees who operate in an environment where energy usage and energy management issues exist often find it difficult to achieve their desired productivity levels. Naturally, this ultimately affects the profitability of a company; an inefficiently managed building wastes between 15 to 18 percent of its operating costs, which could be avoided if simple measures were taken. In addition to this element of unnecessary expenditure, an organisation’s reputation can also be harmed, particularly if the firm’s carbon footprint is sizeable as a result of high carbon emissions and wasteful energy consumption.

Tools of the trade
There are a number of basic systems that can be installed in order to minimise a building’s energy usage, such as LED lights, economisers and motion sensors. In planning and operating buildings that are fit for purpose, it is crucial to apply the life-cycle costing model during the design stage, followed by the selection of services and equipment, which together can create a highly efficient environment. Facility managers are in a position to be environmental stewards of the physical workplace – they have the ability to upgrade a building’s equipment and day-to-day operations in order to be more energy and cost efficient. Installing or retrofitting buildings with HVAC occupancy-based cooling control systems is an example of facilitating energy efficiency, while LG Multi V air conditioning systems can also reduce costs.

Incorporating daylight harvesting maximises the use of natural light in a building and can drastically reduce electricity costs. In this respect, building orientation is important during design and development. In the same vein, fitting efficient light fixtures is easier than ever before, particularly as there are many varieties of LED lights that conserve more energy than normal energy-saving bulbs. Another example for cost saving in the long term is the fitting of modern lifts and escalators that are designed to minimise energy usage by reducing starting torque. Additionally, contemporary lifts only operate when called and so do not waste energy travelling down to the ground floor in between users.

Alternative energy supply has become more common and accessible in recent years, with the use of solar, wind or battery power now being an excellent way for a business to reduce its costs, as well as being useful during emergencies. Gas powered systems present another means for alternative energy, providing that the return on investment is in line with the company’s overall strategy. Once the right structure is in place, operating in the most efficient manner while still meeting user needs becomes possible.

Future prospects
The energy management industry faces numerous challenges, such as a lack of value appreciation, limited availability of products, and return on investment taking too long. However, governments can facilitate the long-term benefits of energy management through providing incentives to businesses for conserving and reducing their consumption. Additionally, as technological innovation is a key method for discovering and providing tools for energy efficiency, governments can fund research projects. Finally, state bodies can continue to promote awards for energy-efficient buildings, which greatly encourage companies through recognition and good publicity.

The industry is currently undergoing a phase of evolution; the future of facilities management is now integrated facilities management. More firms recognise the simplicity and ease of dealing with just one service provider, as opposed to numerous for the various facets of building management. As such, companies have started to demand integrated facilities management on a very large scale, which is able to span multiple buildings, locations, and even countries and regions.

Additionally, engaging with vendors of integrated facilities management brings value to businesses. As the carbon footprint of individual organisations and entire industries are better understood and brought to light, all sectors are under greater pressure to minimise their environmental impact. A holistic approach not only saves money, it can promote a company’s productivity levels and reputation, making energy management a core aspect for any business in the modern age.