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Using smart technology to drive workplace energy saving

With energy costs rising rapidly and a greater focus than ever on the future of our planet, slashing energy usage is a top priority for most businesses right now.

Intelligent buildings can play a key role in this, but the prospect of investing in the technology needed can feel overwhelming. How do you know what’s right for your business and where should you start?

If you’re a facilities manager in an organisation that’s already trying to make cost savings, the idea of creating a fully intelligent building may not feel like a reality right now. But there are simple steps you can take to move in that direction, and they need not cost a fortune.

This article looks at the initial quick wins you can take as well as the bigger changes you may want to make over time.


1. Assess the current picture

Energy is undeniably one of the largest controllable overheads in an office space, so getting to grips with current patterns of use is a crucial first step in any efforts to make reductions.

Installing energy sensors can be a great way to get the overall picture of what’s happening where, and to monitor the impact of any changes.

Wireless energy monitors like Pressac’s current (CT) clamps simply clip around the live electricity cables and send their data wirelessly to your chosen analytics platform. Enabling you to measure energy consumption within a particular area of your building, a circuit or an item of equipment.

Once you know what your current energy usage looks like you can begin to make changes.

2. Tackle your biggest energy consumers

Data from The Carbon Trust shows that the areas where the greatest savings can usually be found are lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and office equipment.

Clearly, this will vary from one office to another, but looking at these areas first is likely to help you make the biggest savings.

Replacing faulty or flickering lights with LED bulbs can reduce energy usage by up to 85%, while ensuring that windows, skylights and light fittings are kept clean can reduce the need for artificial light.

For smarter energy savings, introducing occupancy sensors can provide information on when a room is in use. This data can be linked to local controls to ensure lights are turned off when no one is present. While light sensors can detect daylight levels and send data to a control system to automatically dim or turn off lighting.

Ensuring that thermostats are set to appropriate temperatures can make a big difference. Reducing temperatures by just 1C cuts fuel consumption by 8%. Speak to staff about their comfort levels – they can help you identify areas that are over-heated or over-cooled.

Occupancy sensors can also help ensure that rooms are not being cooled or heated unnecessarily. Air quality sensors can monitor the conditions in each room or zone, and door and window sensors can detect areas where heat may be escaping. The data can be linked to HVAC systems to ensure they switch off if they’re not needed.

You can read more here about how Cavendish Engineers used our sensors to create a fully-automated system for a central London office complex, resulting in a 42% reduction in air handling, a 15% reduction in gas consumption and a 10% reduction in electricity consumption in its first two years.

Office equipment:
Ensure equipment that’s not in use is always switched off – make sure staff at all levels are brought into this and understand the importance of seemingly small savings when multiplied across the whole business.

Energy monitoring sensors can also help identify machinery that is using an unusually high amount of power, helping to spot potential faults or breakdowns before they occur.


A gradual migration, not a giant step

It’s clear that energy saving will be high on the priority list for many facilities managers right now but the prospect of a fully-automated intelligent building is not likely to be a reality for many.

It’s important to remember that the move towards a more efficient, sustainable office building can be a gradual one. Small steps can make a big difference and need not cost a fortune.

Initially, the data provided by smart sensors can be something you use to make changes manually but, over time, you may consider using the data to begin to automate systems, so that lighting, heating, ventilation etc operate on a demand-driven basis.

Pressac’s sensors are system-agnostic (not tied to any one platform) meaning your options are open when/if you decide to integrate them into a larger system. They transmit their data wirelessly via MQTT, a common Internet of Things protocol.

You don’t need an intelligent Building Management System to start making savings. Introducing smart sensors can be a really effective first step, enabling you to measure and monitor, and perhaps begin by automating local controls.

If you’d like more advice and guidance on energy monitoring contact our smart sensor experts who can talk you through the best options for your organisation.

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