It is important to remember that energy efficiency should be treated as an ongoing process – starting first with the basics and requiring constant attention. Here, David Lewis, energy efficiency expert at Schneider Electric, advises on how to make the most of today’s innovations.
When it comes to sustainability, it can be all too easy to think that spending money on the latest wave of highly advanced technologies will automatically deliver energy savings.
The electrical market is abundant with a constant flow of new energy efficient technologies – LEDs, solar PV, building automation and sustainable HVAC – to name but a few. However, all too often, the inclination can be to simply purchase a new technology and leave it to its own devices in the hope that it will provide instant savings without further input.
However, this is not the case. To achieve real results it is imperative to start with the basics. Building operators should never underestimate the importance of measurement. It is not uncommon for large scale facilities to overlook the need to measure at lower levels, which can have a big impact on energy performance. Data collection which provides intelligence on power and energy consumption of specific processes and sites, and which can compare and contrast them, is extremely beneficial.
Armed with all the information collated from measuring, building operators can identify the most energy intensive processes or area of a building, set realistic objectives and plan a route to greater energy efficiency. In most cases, it is necessary to prioritise where improvements will be made, which should be based on where the greatest energy consumption is. This will offer a massive head start when it comes to lowering costs.
SEMS by Schneider Electric combines all the inherently independent mechanisms of metering, monitoring and simple control with a straightforward user defined interface for information to create one true solution. The technology has been specifically designed for use in small to medium sized buildings.
With an iRIO controller at its heart, the system can collect metering and status data from devices, such as meters and circuit breakers, throughout the premises. The controller can then generate reports and transmit the data to remote locations for analysis. From here, the user can identify areas of major consumption, highlight trends and identify where savings can be made.
For example, switching to LED lighting will deliver real energy savings from day one, equating to a typical 77% energy saving on the equivalent incandescent bulb. Added to this is an average life expectancy of around 50,000 hours meaning drastically reduced maintenance and replacement costs. Used in conjunction with lighting control products such as occupancy detectors, time relay delays and dimmers, businesses can benefit from significant cost and energy savings for relatively little disruption. However, there needs to be thought around the suitability of the technology to the application in order to get the maximum benefit.
So the message is one of continuity. Energy management is a continual evolution which requires complete and constant engagement from the building operator. It simply isn’t feasible to apply a new technology or process and leave it to its own devices in the hope that it will improve itself.
Businesses must not only stay ahead of emerging technologies but constantly monitor and measure the impact of any changes, so they can clearly see the affects and make an informed decision about the next step. Only in this way is it possible to ensure that, when it comes to the energy management cycle, they remain firmly in the fast lane.
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