organisation. However, this tends to be expensive and installation requires equipment shut-down. It will also only offer a snapshot of energy usage whenever the sub-meter is read, rather than a constant flow of information. For these reasons, many businesses favour smart sensors as a way of collecting intelligence on energy use. They can be installed easily on any equipment that produces or uses energy to provide data in real time. This data is stored digitally so it can be viewed through an easy-touse dashboard, giving the facilities manager a detailed map of how their organisation uses energy, making it easier to pinpoint where investment in new tech could be most effective. The range of energy technology out there means that choosing the right solutions for a particular business is complex. Basing these decisions on smart sensor data vastly increases the likelihood of selecting the right approach and achieving the best return on investment. Often this can be done in partnership with an energy provider who should be able to help interpret the data and choose the most appropriate solution to implement.
Investing in the right tech Upgrading to newer energy technology will be part of the strategy for many facilities managers once they’ve gone through the process of collecting and analysing smart sensor data. Pinpointing the right www.twitter.com/BFM_Magazine
technology is always going to be a challenge which is why working with an expert is often advisable – different energy solutions are designed to achieve different goals so what’s right for one business won’t necessarily work as well for another. Combined heat and power units (CHP), for example, generate heat and electricity simultaneously onsite. They can be incredibly effective at reducing energy cost but aren’t suitable for all types of business. Only a third of the fuel burned by a traditional power plant, connected to the National Grid, reaches the end user as energy due to the inefficiencies of distributing electricity over long distances. CHPs not only cut down the travel distance by generating power on-site but, because they’re designed to make use of the heat byproduct of power generation, they also capture any ‘wasted’ energy as heat. This heat can then be put to use fulfilling a secondary need – a leisure centre or hotel’s need to heat swimming pools, for example. Other types of business will find that different technologies are more appropriate. As renewable energy solutions become more plentiful and more affordable, smart sensor insight will help to identify opportunities where these technologies can be introduced without affecting operations. One of the main drawbacks to solar or wind power is that they are weather dependent and, therefore, can’t be relied on for the consistent delivery of electricity. Making the most of these solutions could mean
identifying non-critical systems that can afford an intermittent power supply – temperature control systems in a warehouse that stores non-perishables, for example. Investment in on-site battery storage can take this to the next level by facilitating constant energy provision from renewable sources. A small manufacturer, for example, could store surplus solar energy generated during the day in order to bolster supply overnight, or during peak price periods. Doing so maximises the on-site usage of renewable energy – improving the commercial viability of on-site generation and storage systems.
Getting ahead of the game Our poll highlighted that a more sophisticated approach to energy use is high on the agenda for many organisations. For the facilities managers working in these businesses, implementing this change will soon become a key focus – if it isn’t already. Yes, taking ownership of energy within a business is a major responsibility, but the advantages that can be delivered for the company if managed correctly mean the payback for facilities managers is potentially huge. The evolution of energy presents an opportunity to bring about real, positive change within a business that will ultimately elevate facilities management in the eyes of the board and make it a more strategically important role. www.centrica.com Energy