Make waste reduction your New Year resolution

As we start off another year, it’s good to have some resolutions in mind. Perhaps 2010 should be the year when we all put cutting energy waste on our ‘to do’ list.

As with all resolutions, it’s easier to stick to the goal if you have a good reason. The past twelve months have been tough for all businesses, so it is useful to bear in mind that every pound saved from energy bills goes straight onto the bottom line. The Carbon Trust estimates that UK businesses are wasting £7 million a day on poor energy efficiency.

As well as financial incentives, this year also sees many organisations faced with the challenge of the new CRC Energy Reduction Scheme. Whether they’re directly involved as participants, or simply required to submit information to the scheme, these companies are going to be looking carefully at energy use.

Building controls offer a highly cost effective solution for building owners and managers looking to reduce energy waste. Controls influence every aspect of a building’s operation – heating and hot water, ventilation, cooling and air conditioning, lighting, windows and shading. This means that controls can monitor and control every kilowatt of energy used by the building at all times.

Although manufacturers are producing ever-more efficient building services kit, no matter how efficient the boiler or chiller, its energy efficiency depends on how it is used within the building. Leave the heating running at the same time as the cooling and you are simply throwing money away.

Controls can extend the life of plant, by reducing unwanted or out-of-hours operation. This also reduces wear and tear and replacement costs. Controls can ensure office lights aren’t on when occupants are not present; or they can make sure a school boiler isn’t running during the holidays. Controls can also make use of ‘free’ energy such as daylighting – which the Carbon Trust estimates can reduce lighting energy costs by 19% in a typical office.

In many cases perhaps the most inefficient aspect of a building is the people working in it. Most of us do not think twice about how much it costs to leave on a computer and monitor – £50 a year according to the Carbon Trust. While it is never advisable to remove all control over the working environment from occupants, building controls can now take a lot of responsibility for ensuring the standard position for energy-using equipment such as lighting and cooling is off – ensuring that waste is minimised.

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