Where do you start finding energy savings in commercial buildings? Are you required to deliver energy savings for your client but not sure where to start? Are you confused by the staggering quantity of energy saving gadgets and devices out there with the alluring promise of 10% this, 20% that?

Well, our advice is don’t fit any of them. 

Not yet, not at least until you fully understand how your buildings are actually performing now, and where the performance issues really lie. Just shooting in the dark and fitting special boxes to HVAC plant or adding in expensive renewable energy equipment may only add to your troubles.

Your existing Building Energy Management System (BEMS) is connected to systems that consume up to 84% of the total energy used in your building, you already have a system that can deliver superb energy saving results, so why add another? By ensuring this is correctly configured to match the use and profile of your building you really can get to the savings you are looking for.

If you can’t answer the following question, you really do need to start with assessing the core performance of your building. Don’t be tempted to jump to magic solutions.

Where and how is my energy consumed in my building and how can I demonstrate optimal operational parameters are in place?

Let me explain this further. Let’s pose a common scenario, you are promised by a flyer or brochure that a special gadget or widget will save 10% of your boiler energy consumption, should you fit it? No, not unless you understand what is driving the demand for the boiler in the first instance and what the impact of the device will have on the rest of your building systems. Let’s take that to an extreme to illustrate the point.

Do you want to save 100% of your boiler energy consumption? Yes? OK well it’s easy, just turn it off. What would be the impact of merely switching off the boilers and leaving them turned off?

To set the parameters to our point, we need to balance how we control our energy consuming equipment against many criteria. It is often the loss of focus on the numerous impacts of a change in one area on other factors that leads to further issues and inefficiencies. So while one single gadget directly alters one single item, its effects could be profoundly felt by all of the rest. You need to work with a system that is connected to all of your building, not just one little piece, your BEMS.

By way of example, we walked onto a brand new college site not so long ago. It was 5 degrees celcius outside and I walked past chillers that were running flat out, desperately trying to keep up with a demand for cooling. The boilers were at 100% too, trying in vain to heat the college at the same time. It turns out that the chillers and boilers were not under the direct control of the Building Energy Management System. A cost reduction at construction phase no doubt, but one with staggering and expensive consequences operationally, environmentally and on those inside the building.