Driving efficiency forward

Steven Daniels, Director of Matrix explains how organisations can manage energy in the most efficient and cost-effective way.  The use of energy is something that concerns every organisation across the country and efficient businesses are always looking for ways to manage energy as effectively as possible. Using energy efficiently is a challenge for all companies – from single site operations, to organisations that have a portfolio of properties across the UK.

With the advent of the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC EES) and the potential for brand damage if organisations aren’t seen to be being proactive in their energy use, effective energy management has now become a significant issue for many organisations. Efficient energy management enables companies to save money and reduce their carbon emissions however the question for most companies to consider is which energy management scheme will be most successful for them?

A huge amount of money is spent on implementing various energy schemes across the country on a daily basis. These can include the installation of new lighting systems or the upgrading of the existing Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS). These can be efficient in reducing energy and energy costs, but the success of such schemes can often be short-lived. A combination of different factors can often lead to a drift in performance.

The most efficient way to manage energy in buildings is by using Remote Active Energy Management (RAEM). This method can often provide the best return on investment for a company that’s seriously trying to save energy and money spent on its use. Some organisations may be concerned that RAEM will be too expensive for them to consider using, but its cost can often be recouped within a year of implementation.

Furthermore, the introduction of energy performance contracts by some energy management companies means that these contracts are now performance-based, so clients are guaranteed to make energy savings without having a dedicated capital budget. It also gives organisations the peace of mind that all investments are backed by financial guarantee.

Return on investment

The energy management centre (EMC) plays a major part in delivering RAEM. EMCs provide a suite of powerful applications to help organisations deliver, track and report on energy savings, making it an effective way of verifying a client’s energy reduction strategy. The more advanced energy management companies have now developed ways to provide reports on up to 5,000 projects for a single client! This daily reporting creates a far more reliable picture of how carbon emissions are being reduced.

Another advantage of the RAEM system is that it can monitor a site or plant’s performance against a pre-determined energy efficiency profile. If the site or plant drifts from this profile, the centre is notified and will immediately view the site remotely to diagnose and correct the problem. This use of this technology saves a significant amount of energy for clients and it enables further savings to be made in maintenance and call-out charges – the fact that maintenance teams aren’t called out so often also provides extra convenience for organisations. If more hands-on attention is required, this is provided swiftly by the energy team, but the majority of issues are solved remotely.

To facilitate successful energy management and for organisations to really see its benefits, the energy management company should be invited to their premises. This gives the energy consultants a greater understanding of the space being used and efficiency initiatives can then be developed in partnership with the client. It isn’t an invasive process and means that the management of energy can then be far more effective and efficient for the organisation.

Remote active energy management benefits every end-user and its advantages are most clearly seen when it’s used by a client that has many sites across the country. An organisation of this kind may think that the challenges of controlling the lighting, heating and air-conditioning in every single one of its buildings is an insurmountable challenge. However, linking up with an EMC helps companies determine the optimum levels of energy required over a 24-hour period, saves them money and reduces carbon emissions.

Working with the end-user

In addition, many companies don’t often realise that using energy at peak times can cost nearly three times more than using it at off-peak times. Management centres can control and reduce the energy needed to operate buildings during peak times. This can save millions of pounds every year for organisations with hundreds of different sites across the UK.

The management of energy to reduce its impact on the environment may not have been a priority for some companies in years gone by, but the recent implementation of legislation has now forced all major organisations to reconsider their energy strategies. With a significant feature of the CRC EES being a performance league table, it is now in the interests of large organisations to be proactive in their energy management. The table will detail energy outputs and performance and no organisation will want to be seen as lagging behind its competitors.

Energy management companies have the technology and expertise to provide effective energy management for clients and the enduser must be able to see its advantages and a noticeable return on investment. One compelling statistic is that, by investing in effective energy management, some companies have reduced their energy consumption by up to 40% over a five year period – there are obviously also cost savings associated with this reduced consumption.

What next?

Retailers also have a real need to work with energy management companies, as the major chains have hundreds of stores across the UK. Energy management companies can work closely with individual store managers (and also with head office) to audit and monitor energy consumption across organisations. In addition, designated consultants on the RAEM team can monitor and manage energy consumption and outputs across the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems in stores, as these are the dominant energy consumers for most retailers.

At store level energy dashboards can also be installed to further drive energy efficiency. These dashboards are online portals that enable store managers to monitor their progress against a series of key energy deliverables. This strategy can also help to motivate and incentivise employees to play their part in the reduction of energy consumption.

With rising energy costs and the introduction of new legislation, the demand for efficient energy management is likely to increase. If they haven’t already done so, all organisations, both in the public and private sectors, need to seriously consider their energy strategies. The cost of implementing a RAEM system can often be recouped within a year and the introduction of energy performance contracts has guaranteed that savings can be made for the end-user.

The financial benefits of using energy management are clear to see and organisations are now also aware that if they’re seen to be active in their carbon reduction, this can give them an improved image with the public. Efficient energy management (and remote active energy management in particular) has many benefits for organisations and those already using it are seeing its advantages on a daily basis.

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