Efficiency policies won't wait for firms "dragging their heels"

Poonam Walid, category marketing manager, power monitoring at Schneider Electric, expects further regulations to increase the pressure on those organisations dragging their heels on implementing energy efficiency measures.

Advanced metering and monitoring solutions are vital for enabling data-driven energy efficiency. Landlords and commercial building managers are becoming increasingly aware of power monitoring solutions as a way of gaining a detailed view of their energy use. This insight in turn supports energy efficiency and cost reduction efforts.

Effective metering and monitoring gives owners and operators crucial information about how their buildings are performing. This can deliver substantial, almost immediate improvements. Energy metering can help with identifying cost cutting opportunities by detecting inefficiencies, benchmarking building performance, improving load planning and energy usage and managing demand to ensure there is minimum exposure to volatility. An effective metering and monitoring system is one with the capacity to get tenants, property managers, and owners involved in energy-efficiency measures. The ability to identify and quantify energy use is often sufficient to bring about energy-saving changes in practices and behaviours, such as reducing waste and avoiding peak utility rate periods when possible.

For example, Schneider Electric has been working with Oxford University for the past 20 years to install main meters and sub meters in all the university buildings. There are over 1,000 meters in total, which are designed for key distribution points and sensitive loads to offer advanced power quality and billing accuracy. On top of this, Oxford University uses Schneider Electric’s Power Monitoring Expert solution to help organise and analyse metering data for reducing energy costs and increase efficiency.

Another element driving greater energy efficiency is the increase in energy-related building legislation globally, as well as locally in the UK and EU. These legislative and regulative changes are acting as a motivator for increased levels of metering, sub-metering and control solutions. This is across all buildings, but mostly commercial buildings where there are the most savings to be gleaned. One example of this is the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which requires all EU member states to encourage intelligent metering and control systems in new or renovated buildings. In the US, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 imposes stringent metering regulations on federal buildings.

A wealth of energy efficiency legislation has been implemented in the past decade to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some legislation has specific requirements regarding metering of buildings to increase efficiency. Others indirectly encourage building owners and managers to use metering as part of an overall strategy to reduce emissions.

Across Europe, legislation has been introduced in response to EU Directives. These include the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD 2002 and 2010) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012). EPBD 2002 introduced building energy labelling and encouraged the installation of smart meters and sub meters. The EPBD 2010 included specific requirements for data collection via meters and controls to accurately calculate DEC rating. The Energy Efficiency Directive required the provision of smart meters to all customers and the creation of energy audits for businesses.

Sub-metering and control requirements are included in the Building Regulations Part L. It covers both new buildings and retrofits. For new buildings, the regulations focus on the fact that end-use categories (like heating, lighting) must be assigned to 90 per cent of building energy use. Any renewable energy systems must also have their output monitored. Buildings over 1,000 m2 must have automatic meter reading and data collection systems installed.

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is a mandatory energy assessment scheme. It requires large UK companies to conduct regular energy audits. Companies that employ over 250 people, or have an annual turnover in excess of £50m are included in the scope of ESOS.

It’s not just building legislation that is driving an increase in the installation of metering and monitoring solutions. The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is the world’s longest established method of assessing, rating and certifying the sustainability and energy efficiency of buildings. More than 500,000 buildings globally have been BREEAM certified and over 2m are registered for certification. From a metering perspective, BREAAM’s aim is to recognise and encourage the installation of sub-metering that facilitates the monitoring of operational energy consumption. Research carried out by construction consultants Sweett Group and BRE found that developers typically invest up to two per cent more when targeting higher BREEAM ratings. Furthermore, they recover that additional investment in 2-5 years through savings in energy and water bills. Research also found that BREEAM office buildings in London achieve a 21 per cent premium on transaction rates and an 18 per cent premium on rent. Therefore, the initial investment in a certified metering and monitoring system pays for itself and starts to provide further benefits in a very short timeframe.

As the nation progresses towards a brighter, more sustainable future, energy visibility is paramount for optimised efficiency. With this in mind, we’re expecting further regulations and legislation in line with those already in place. While more businesses are already thinking in a more energy efficient way, regulation helps push those dragging their heels toward better building efficiency.

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