Source: HeatingAndVentilating.net - http://www.heatingandventilating.net/
Meeting the challenges of reducing energy usage in buildings and meeting future low carbon requirements are central to today's building services design. Mike Burke explains.
The most successful energy management schemes occur when mechanical and electrical contractors and building consultants work together from the start. Energy management projects are best seen as an investment. The skill of the HVR contractor is to be able to provide the right guidance and identify and recommend an optimised building energy solution, which can avoid upfront costs, as well as providing a return on investment of just a couple of years.
Energy management reviews often recommend an integrated set of energy saving products and services. Crucially in these more austere times, this package of measures gives guaranteed reduced energy consumption, whilst providing a predictable and attractive return on investment, a unique concept for the industry and one that is being widely welcomed.
The first stage is obviously to conduct a survey of energy usage in a building. This is done using either existing smart meter monitoring systems, or creating a thermal profile of the building using digital thermal modeling software. Elements such as the building's shape, form, orientation and openings are linked to the surrounding climate and its thermal, light and airflow properties.
Companies like mine also carry out detailed analysis of other elements, such as use of space, occupancy levels, equipment usage and hvac including renewable systems, which are also accounted for through calculations such as; heat loss, heat gain, daylight analysis, shading analysis and energy consumption. This enables the focus for the building to be on the energy-consuming assets and how these can be addressed.
Following completion of the survey, an analysis is carried out of the building's energy usage and the proposal begins to take shape. The survey determines the savings in energy and therefore cost, allowing the whole project to be assigned a return on investment (RoI), which is an essential requirement for all businesses to make sound investment decisions. Once this RoI is established, a way forward is proposed which identifies key performance indicators supported by guarantees to deliver the stated savings.
Often it is essential that the main functions of a building are kept fully operational during the refurbishment works. A flexible approach makes this possible and ensures minimal impact to normal everyday activities.
Within most energy reviews these days, an element of renewable technology should be considered. Specific energy efficient measures that we have developed include lighting control products that are capable of reducing energy costs by up to 80 per cent and specialist LED lamps that will give the same Lumen output as a standard lamp, but use just 40 per cent of the energy. Other potential measures include a sun tracking control system for solar shades, which will help to reduce heat gain and the need for air conditioning, while controlling the amount of daylight entering the workspace.
More recently, we have incorporated a solar photovoltaic (PV) solution, which allows clients to reduce running costs and earn an income from the Government's Feed in Tariff.
IMOP (inductive motor optimisation panel) units are also becoming more widely used and these are an essential part of reducing reactive power requirements.
A fully optimised building energy solution involves the strategic installation of smart metering systems throughout its infrastructure, enabling building owners and facilities managers to monitor the system and report back on how well the upgrades have performed. Again, this also means the RoI can be calculated.
When it comes to refurbishing an existing building or building new, the challenge is to balance the need to invest upfront in energy efficient systems against the long term benefits of doing so.
The issue is often the capital investment that is required, for example, for renewable systems this can be significantly higher than investing in a conventional energy system. Again, one of the issues is that a renewable system often falls outside the capital budget, which is why a self-funding solution is important. Self-funding solutions are becoming more popular, as it means clients don't necessarily have to pay any upfront costs. Avoiding any large upfront investment makes energy efficient upgrades accessible to all sectors of the market and, indeed, is often viewed as a good business decision.
That is one of the reasons the industry needs to focus on ROI when it comes to an optimised building energy solution, as many building owners still view renewable systems as a major capital investment that may never be fully recouped.
Leading the way
Latest optimised building energy solutions are leading the way in helping to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the UK's existing building stock - by far the largest contributors of greenhouses gases. As the Government's targets for the energy efficiency of buildings become ever more stringent, specialist m&e contractors are providing a practical, workable and financially attractive solution to existing buildings' energy requirements. With the technology now available and through access to the latest renewable systems, it is no surprise that energy management is an area now commonly being reviewed."
• Mike Burke is business development director at Unidata Infrastructure