Making the effort to easily plan your energy reduction actions
27/01/2014« Back

Having a passion for anything is important for ongoing success, energy management is no different.

I quite often hear end users (at conferences and exhibitions) say 'We have done all we can, what now?"

Firstly it's not very often that everything has been done, commonly the phrase should be "We have done all we can afford to do, everything that meets our payback criteria", and this in itself presents some challenges. If action is only measured by direct payback vs. expenditure - then what is being missed when looking at what appears to be the bigger prize?

It's very easy to think that all the bases have been covered and nothing else needs to be done. Looking back 20 years, to the start of my career in energy management, building management systems were one of the top investments that companies were making. The strapline of putting the E (for energy!) into BEMS was well over used, and in fact many implementations of BMS (albeit well designed) were poorly thought out, badly commissioned and often neglected to include operator training instructions. Conflicting reports of the day had energy reduced or increased by 50% and this seemed a bit of a gamble!

Why was (and in many case still is) the business case for BMS so compelling? We'll it was quite straightforward to calculate all mechanical plant running in a building and make assumptions of what % shouldn't be being consumed, then add in the fact that 'the building will manage itself' and you have created a simple cost formula,  x = reduction, y = payback so 'go for it'. It is decisions based on simple criteria like this that have a negative effect on my enthusiasm, it's such a short sighted approach.

By taking a more long term view we see that information and planning are as important (if not more important) than the quick wins.

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe", Abraham Lincoln.

So where do you start and how do you prepare? In my opinion the most important task is to establish a project register, initially this could be at a very high level.

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Project Groups

Step 1:

Consider everything at every level. If you have 50 assets this could easily be 500 opportunities to reduce energy by using technology, management actions, process changes or just simple maintenance measures. Take different views and involve different skill sets to ensure a range of options.

Step 2:

Flesh out the detail and categorise. There may be a cross over in the opportunities that can cut duplication at this point.

Step 3:

Once categorised engage experts and extend the detail to include implementation process cost and calculated savings. From a technology perspective (i.e. Lighting, metering) this may be available at no cost from some product providers, where it is more management orientated (i.e. training, engagement, etc.) spending a little time developing an action plan will pay dividends in the long term.

Step 4:

With the full detail in place run analysis on projects using tools that can assess the cost of avoiding carbon emissions. The marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) tool is recommended as it focuses decision making on the economic element of energy and carbon reduction. If the care and attention has been placed into the first three steps then step 4 will highlight the priorities.

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Marginal Abatement Cost Curve

Step 5:

Invest! Take action and ensure you monitor and validate all projects to ensure that the best practice can be recycled.

Once you have carried out this process once, consider it standard process that can form part of your energy management system, if you aspire to achieve ISO 50001 then maintaining a project register and forecasting reductions is an essential requirement.

The digitalenergy system has a simple asset level project management tool enabling details to be stored in individual records that can be used for analysis and action at an asset level or organisational level. Within digitalenergy the MACC analysis can be dynamic, if you complete projects or add new opportunities the MACC can easily be re-run to re-establish new priorities.

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Fax: 0808 208 3726

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Coventry Canal Basin
West Midlands

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