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A FORWARD THINKING ATTITUDE TO ENERGY MANAGEMENT
It strikes me as somewhat bizarre that in an age where owners, managers and occupiers of commercial premises are under tremendous pressure to operate as energy efficiently as possible, so few developers recognise the long-term value of installing a fully featured Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) at the construction stage.
BEMS facilitate greater energy efficiency and the cost savings and the environmental benefits that can be experienced as a result of investment in this technology are considerable. A fully integrated solution can have up to 84 per cent of a building’s energy consuming devices directly under its control.
According to the Carbon Trust 25 per cent of a building’s energy is used in lighting. In addition, air conditioning can increase a building's energy consumption and associated carbon emissions by up to 100 per cent.
So why isn’t the design and installation of a BEMS happening in the initial stages of a construction project? Developers tend to fall into two broad groups – there are those that configure buildings for others to inhabit and others who design and build premises for their own use.
When it comes to the former, the main driver is to save costs at the construction phase. As there are no regulations stating that a BEMS must be installed, there’s a strong possibility that it won’t be. However, this lack of forward thinking leads to future occupants having to cope with higher overheads and a larger carbon footprint.
Regarding the second group, it often comes down to the failure of owners to specify the need for a BEMS at procurement stage. While this type of developer will also have one eye on the cost of the project, the increased capital costs of installing BEMS is easily countered by the return on investment (ROI), with an average payback of just three and a half years.
The fact is that on a ROI basis early stage BEMS implementation makes sound economic sense. It can form less than one per cent of the total construction expenditure and energy savings of 10-20 per cent can be achieved.
Despite the controversy surrounding the introduction of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, it is here to stay. In addition, The Climate Change Levy (CCL), Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) also affect businesses, while compliance with certification standards such as ISO 50001 put the onus on companies to demonstrate continual improvement in this area.
It should also be remembered that building occupiers are demanding greater visibility and transparency of their energy consumption and need access to data.
Standardisation is playing an ever more prominent role and the most significant is EN 15232, which describes methods for evaluating the influence of building automation and technical building management on the energy consumption of buildings.
At this stage I think that regulation shouldn’t be necessary if a long-term approach to energy efficiency is factored in and the benefits of a BEMS are recognised by more developers in the initial stages of a project.