Wasting energy is a major contributing factor to high operational costs of commercial buildings. The government’s 2030 energy efficiency target for businesses highlights the potential, energy-saving measures have on cutting operating costs. As set out in the target, UK businesses could save £6 billion a year as a whole.
Identifying opportunities to cut down energy consumption is one of the main challenges for facility managers. However, with smart devices becoming increasingly available, a vast amount of operating data is now accessible. Almost anything is now measurable in a facility: how much energy was consumed by the lights alone, what time the heating turned on and if equipment was switched off at night time.
Getting the answers to these questions is an unmissable opportunity for reducing energy costs. However, finding the information needed in the wealth of data collected can be challenging and the analysis time-consuming.
What steps can be taken to turn available data into cost-saving measures?
- Collate data with a single front-end device.
Rather than saving data from different systems in separate files or collating them manually, technologies that collate data from all devices and store it in a single location simplify data analysis. Front-end control and monitoring systems are ideal for storing data centrally. RDM’s DMTouch stores data and offers the additional benefit of providing consumption statistics for metered consumables, predicting budgets and displaying trends.
Energy management software, such as Kwheb, is another solution for collating and analysing software. Cloud-based and accessible from anywhere, it provides detailed consumption statistics. Drilling down into weekly, daily and hourly data helps facility managers understand where and when the most energy is consumed.
- Identify opportunities for optimisation.
Using the statistics and trend analyses provided, opportunities to optimise operational processes to save energy can be identified. If energy costs were too high, it’s possible to look more closely at the data and find out if equipment was running overnight or lights were on in unoccupied rooms. If gas consumption could be reduced, data from heating controls will help to decide if heater settings can be changed to a lower temperature or switched off in some rooms altogether.
- Implement changes.
Implementing the necessary changes can take the form of manually adjusting the settings of lights, heating or any other equipment identified as wasting energy. Ideally, changes can be made to the building’s infrastructure by updating its programmable logic control (PLC) strategy. Facility managers would have the certainty that the necessary adjustments were made, as once the system is set up, devices will be automatically controlled without requiring manual checks.
- Measure results.
All that is left now is to analyse statistics to gauge whether the implemented changes had their predicted effect. Front-end control and monitoring systems or energy management software can again provide useful data analytics and insights. They will help understand if energy-reduction goals were achieved and if there is scope for further optimisation.
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