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Energy Management for smart buildings

With up to 50 per cent of CO2 emissions attributable to commercial buildings from electricity consumption in Australia, facilities managers are facing increasing pressures to reduce the carbon footprint of their buildings and move to a more sustainable operating model says Schneider Electric. 

Moreover, as consumer and business technology is more widely adopted and other equipment such as air conditioning and ventilation systems increase in use, electricity consumption is rising at a higher rate. 

One of the most effective, current ways to reduce energy consumption and improve buildings actual performance is by improving the health of our building operations in Australia.

Whilst there is no single method to improve energy efficiency, there are a number of principles and practices that can be employed for effective management.

Steps to greater energy efficiency 
1.    Measure current energy usage: Installing power metering and monitoring is important to track and provide a baseline for energy usage. A comprehensive energy analysis, including a collection of data from major energy consumers within a facility, examining energy usage patterns and demands, and evaluating their impact on total energy consumption, is a key component in identifying improvement opportunities. 
2.    Fix the basics: Implementing energy efficiency measures and easy tools like high-efficiency lighting, HVAC systems, motors and capacitors 
3.    Automate: Installing Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) like the SmartStruxure solution that has the ability to save energy and improve productivity by creating a comfortable working environment. For example, measures like schedule-based lighting control and occupancy sensors automatically turn lights on only when they are needed, while HVAC control regulates heating and cooling at optimal levels, which can change frequently
4.    Monitor and control: Managing key energy demands and modifying employee behaviour, training and management review, to ensure initial energy and cost savings don’t erode over time. Power meter installations, monitoring services, energy efficiency analysis, energy bill verification and an enterprise energy management (EEM) system all can help achieve this end.

Introducing these steps not only improves the buildings technical capabilities but, also changes how stakeholders manage their buildings said the company. 

By implementing these steps, building owners and managers now have access to real-time data from across their building’s systems. This centralised integration delivers new visibility into how a building’s systems are working together to provide opportunities to improve and optimise overall operations as well as greatly reducing the time it takes to diagnose and fix issues. It is also much easier to see trends that indicate best practices or areas for improvement – something that would be impossible if all systems are being managed individually. 

Facility managers can take simple steps toward improving energy efficiency to revolutionise building management. 

By applying the broad principles of measurement, maintenance, automation, monitoring and control, overall building operations can be streamlined, resulting in a significant reduction in energy use.  Whilst the adoption of new technologies can go a long way in improving efficiencies, building managers should always look to upgrade and integrate already existing systems to create a platform for holistic management. 

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