Energy management systems Vs carbon footprints

Published:  08 September, 2016

Rob Morris, country manager for Powervar UK explains how innovations in facilities management can help businesses strive for a more energy efficient way of working.

The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is seemingly everywhere and the use of Big Data to monitor customer behaviour is on the rise. As a result of these developments, one major development has come to light for facilities managers (FMs) – the introduction of “smart systems”. Smart systems have the ability to provide a new, more effective type of power management.

These smart systems are revolutionary as building services, infrastructure issues and energy usage can now be monitored by FMs.

Monitoring energy usage is so vital now as every day, energy wastage causes companies to lose money. This is not only detrimental to the companies themselves, but also to the environment. By 2025, buildings are expected to be the largest consumers of energy. This means that they will be consuming more energy than the transportation and industrial sector combined. In 2014 emissions from buildings alone accounted for 37% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. This troubling statistic shows just how detrimental buildings can be to the environment. Thus it is imperative that companies consider implementing smart energy systems. This will allow existing buildings to become more efficient in their energy use, saving money and making progress towards meeting national and international energy efficiency targets. For example, one of the key targets is to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius from 2020.

Reducing energy consumption is just one task of FMs. Finding the best price for energy, measuring financial metrics, setting and enforcing policies and complying with regulations, and communicating a robust energy policy across an organisation are some of the other challenges they face. These are perplexing enough individually, but often, all of them must be met within a business setting, which means not only retaining but also growing profits.

To further add to the complexity, often one building is shared by a number of different businesses that all use different amounts of energy. For example, if one floor of the building was being used by a software company (which has its own servers, air conditioning units, multiple screens and high performance computers) this business would use a lot more energy than say, an office unit with a smart lighting that switches off its computers at the end of the day. This means that there is an additional challenge in attempting to monitor the energy use of entire buildings. Differences in energy usage from each company could skew the mean output of the building making it difficult to develop an energy strategy. Therefore, it would be easy to misjudge the requirements for different businesses within the same building. As you can see, there is a lot to take into consideration and FMs have their work cut out for them.

IoT offers an intelligent solution

However, developments in IoT means having several different companies sharing the same building is now less of an issue. With the widespread popularity of IoT and the commonality of cloud technologies, building-wide smart energy management systems give FMs the opportunity to identify precise areas for improvement. This is already helping organisations save thousands of pounds in energy costs.

Also, these systems can store data gathered over time, so that businesses can identify key trends and make the most of this large quantity of information. However, this information, in its raw format, can be difficult to understand and sometimes misleading. Thankfully, user-friendly systems can convert this raw information into graphs and charts that can be easily interpreted. The advance of smart technologies can support FMs by giving them the tools to make informed decisions based on data that they actually understand.

Smart monitoring

PowerVar has combined a smart monitoring system and IoT enabled sensors in order to create a user-friendly energy management system. ATLAS FA and Latitude FMS are a hardware unit and software package that work together to enable FMs to record and store granular information about their energy use. This allows faults to be detected and inefficiencies to be identified. The use of these systems (in most cases) can lead to cost savings within the first year of operation.

Information that is attained from IoT and Big Data, is opening up more doors for FMs. Not only can it provide a real insight into the state of equipment in each facility but also the surrounding environment. By combining this with a smart monitoring system, FMs can gather actionable insight into their facility. This is the golden opportunity for businesses to strive for a more energy efficient way of working by ensuring both energy bills and carbon emissions are being reduced.

Although the prospect of using Big Data and the IoT may seem overwhelming at first, the benefits are unavoidable. Now that there are user-friendly management systems, FMs can save money, monitor performance and make more informed decisions about energy use. It is clear that the way forward is for FMs to modernise their systems in order to transform their energy usage and save money. This will increase business profit whilst reducing carbon footprints. The technology has now been developed and helps a number of industries, and it is readily available. It is the role of the FM to be at the forefront of energy efficiency, and the tools are at their fingertips.

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