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Alan Hickman, managing director of building controls and metering specialist Carlo Gavazzi UK, looks at the benefits of ISO 50001 and outlines how an energy management system can be put in place.
Using energy efficiently helps organisations save money as well as helping to conserve resources and tackle climate change. The international standard ISO 50001 supports businesses in all sectors to use energy more efficiently through the development of an energy management system.
As the ISO 50001 standard faces its first revision six years on from its introduction, it’s a useful point to consider the benefits of the approach. It’s worth remembering that energy management experts from more than 60 countries developed the standard, so ISO 50001 outlines energy management practices that are considered to be the best, globally.
The standard is based on the management system model of continual improvement also used for other well-known standards such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. This makes it easier for organisations to integrate energy management into their overall efforts to improve quality and environmental management.
ISO 50001 provides a framework of requirements for organisations to:
• Develop a policy for more efficient use of energy
• Fix targets and objectives to meet the policy
• Use data to better understand and make decisions about energy use
• Measure the results
• Review how well the policy works
• Continually improve energy management.
The benefits of such an energy monitoring and management strategy are clear for businesses of all sizes. A programme led by the US Department of Energy, for example, demonstrated that ISO 50001 not only increased energy savings, but facilities using the standard outperformed those that didn’t by up to 65%.
In the UK, certification body BSI argues that the advantages include:
• Compliance - improved levels of compliance to energy legislation, reduced likelihood of fines and prosecutions and lower insurance premiums
• Cost - money is saved through better energy management, less waste and more efficiency
• Perception - increased likelihood of repeat business, access to new markets
• Reputation - improved reputation and stakeholder satisfaction, increased access to new customers and business partners
• Risk management - improved business and energy planning, potential re-investment of savings into other areas of the business.
It’s not only large organisations that use ISO 50001; many small businesses follow the principles without seeking certification of 50001 processes by third-party certification bodies such as BSI.
According to ISO, the first five years of ISO 50001 consistently delivered savings of between 5% and 30% of energy costs. The organisation is not resting on its laurels and the standard is currently up for revision. Expect an emphasis on keeping the standard user-friendly and simple to implement with a focus on closer integration with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Organisations desire common tools, terms and processes across the various management systems.
According to the Building Research Establishment, controls are the easiest and most cost-effective solution for saving energy in buildings. Lighting controls are a good example. The Carbon Trust states that up to 40% of a building's electricity use is accounted for by lighting. By dimming or switching off lighting when there is nobody in a room, occupancy sensors can reduce electricity use by 30%, says the Carbon Trust. Even more impressive are daylight sensors: adjusting the artificial lighting according to the amount of natural light in a room using daylight sensors or photocells can reduce electricity use by up to 40%.
More advanced controls covering heating, ventilation and air conditioning can further reduce consumption. Despite the obvious benefits, the BRE says that clients and building occupiers have failed to exploit advanced control solutions because many of the innovative technologies they employ are perceived to be overly technical and complex to operate. This, when coupled with a lack of information on the subject, has resulted in a poor uptake of control technologies and a subsequent failure to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and to provide a better environment for occupants.
Simple two-wire bus solutions such as Carlo Gavazzi’s Dupline system offer a cost-effective means of improving the poor take-up identified by the BRE, reducing energy consumption and improving occupant comfort. Two-wire bus technology significantly simplifies the field level wiring, eliminates expensive wiring home runs and saves money on wiring and installation costs when compared with traditional solutions.
Any controls strategy needs to be backed up by data gathered from an effective monitoring system to transform the way a building is run. Re-commissioning and optimisation of a building management system (BMS) to reflect a building’s current and actual usage can reduce a building’s CO2 emissions by up to 20%. Metering data will provide visibility of excessive consumption and identify opportunities for savings through simple BMS strategy adjustments that doesn’t involve large capital expenditure.
Metering in itself does not save energy. It is action taken as a result of installing meters and using the information that can achieve quantifiable energy savings. Metering should be designed to facilitate performance benchmarking as detailed in CIBSE’s TM46 and Guide F. To do that, data needs to be exported to a user-friendly interface where graphical displays are engaging, educational and meaningful.
If this is done correctly, the data can be interrogated by the user – be it a building owner, occupier or facilities manager – to identify baseline consumption and benchmark against similar building types, to identify BMS strategy errors, plant operation conflicts, automate reporting and, importantly, assess return on investment of renewable technology introduced or CAPEX projects such as plant replacement and lighting upgrades. It is imperative that users act on the data and develop a system of continuous improvement.
Buildings already represent 50% of global electricity consumption and, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), that figure is going to jump by 80% due to rapid urbanisation over the next 25 years. The IEA argues that there is massive potential for improved energy efficiency in buildings. It says that up to 82% of energy efficiency measures remain untapped in buildings today. ISO 50001 procedures, when coupled with controls and metering, unlock that potential and provide a powerful management tool that will reduce operating costs and CO2 emissions to deliver greener buildings.
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