Get people involved

Building energy management systems (BEMS) can play a central part in measuring, monitoring and managing energy use in buildings.  With intelligent procurement, installation and application, today’s BEMS will keep track of how much energy is being used in a building, where and why.

Advances in technology over the past few years mean that more and more equipment can be included on the BEMS network, including meters, wireless sensors and a growing variety of smart building services equipment supplied with built-in controls that are compatible with many of the open system protocols such as LonWorks, BACnet and KNX.

In fact, building controls are reaching a stage where they can supply large amounts of very useful data on building performance. This information is rapidly becoming business critical, since it can impact on business running costs. One of the most important potential uses for this information is to inform and motivate staff about energy use, costs and the importance of energy efficiency.

More and more leading businesses, including large retailers such as supermarket giant ASDA and electrical retailer Dixons, are taking data from the BEMS and using it to educate and encourage their staff.  They take this information just as seriously as they would their monthly sales data. That is because energy is a rapidly growing cost for businesses – and in today’s tough market that makes energy an area for serious consideration.

Delivering data in a way that is understandable and usable is key. There is no point handing over huge amounts of data on kilowatt hours of consumption to staff who are not experts in energy or engineering. But showing simple week-to-week changes in energy use; or highlighting areas of a store where there are unusual peaks; or pointing out where heating or lighting is running unnecessarily provides useful and actionable information.

The BEMS not only provides a way to manage energy use; it also provides a way to manage occupants and their attitudes to energy.  None of this has to be elaborate. Simple charts comparing energy use against time, or even against other buildings, can provide clear targets.

There is a saying in management that ‘What gets measured is what gets done’. Leading businesses are finding out that simply showing staff how much energy is used, and putting a premium on being as efficient as possible, can make a huge difference to energy performance.

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