Energy Management Systems uncovered

By Chris Pearson at Vickers – the leading industrial heating control brand that forms part of Pilot Group Infrastructure.

With energy conservation a hot topic of debate around the globe, the pressure on commercial and industrial premises in the UK to use it sparingly and as efficiently as possible continues to mount.

The built environment has long been identified by government as a major contributor to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions – responsible for about 46% of UK emissions, with non-domestic buildings accounting for around 19%. Hence, it poses a major threat to the UK meeting its carbon reduction targets for 2020 and 2050.

Whilst Building Regulations ensure that new properties meet the latest energy efficiency standards, there’s a whole raft of legislative measures now in place to ensure commercial and industrial premises conserve energy too. Take the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES), for example, that currently tackles older commercial buildings. This requires Landlords to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) upon the proposed letting of a property. However, from April 18th  this year, should the EPC rating fall lower than band E, the Landlord will be prevented from leasing the property.

 With an estimated 20% of UK commercial property unable to meet this criteria, and with the possibility of MEES rising in the future, the work that’s required to bring these buildings up to scratch will be colossal.

Industrial buildings aren’t exempt from the legislative heat either; with a whole mix of co-operative, financial and market based measures in place to improve energy efficiency. The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is just one example. This is a mandatory energy assessment scheme for larger UK organisations and their corporate groups that requires an ESOS assessment to be carried out every four years. This includes audits of the energy used by the building, as well as industrial processes and transport, to identify cost-effective energy saving measures.

With an estimated 20% of a business’ energy costs due to wasted energy caused by inefficient equipment, there are huge opportunities to save money, especially for larger organisations. That’s where a simple investment in an Energy Management System (EMS) comes in. Designed to deliver accurate heating control with maximum efficiency, an EMS can make savings of up to 43% on energy bills – a sure fire way for both commercial and industrial premises to gain control of their heating, and reduce energy bills and CO2 emissions at the same time. Let’s take a closer look.

A typical EMS works by monitoring, controlling and regulating the performance of a building’s heating system, ensuring that it’s always fully optimised and only using energy as and when required, which ultimately increases efficiency.

Advanced self-learning programmes can cleverly help the system calculate the necessary burn time for individual heaters to achieve their target temperature, and can even detect how long each will take to cool down and switch off accordingly. The inclusion of an external sensor provides further efficiencies by varying the internal target temperatures in response to prevailing weather conditions.

Some manufacturing, storage, and retail sites often require different temperatures throughout different zones within the building. Chilled food may be stored in one area and curing products in another, whilst the office space will require a much more comfortable environment. Advanced systems can monitor and regulate temperatures throughout a building without the need for manual intervention, multiple systems, clock settings or extra equipment.

A good EMS should also be compatible with the building’s lighting system. As well as presetting the times of lighting coming on and off, with the additional use of sensors the lighting can be activated only when the area is occupied. This is ideal for areas that aren’t used regularly.

The best Energy Management Systems are those that are compatible with all makes of industrial heating systems and that work alongside varying types of heaters including; warm air, radiant, air handlers, boilers and thermoliers. Some can even be fully integrated with existing building management systems such as Trend. Furthermore, an EMS can offer improved controls for multi stage boilers; thereby sharing the load to increase efficiency. It can even be interfaced with utility meters!

Use of the system is usually fool-proof and can be monitored from any location courtesy of cloud-based technology. In addition to viewing performance and energy usage, changes can be made from any internet enabled device; thereby providing the ultimate in control. It’s also possible to produce automated monthly reports to show the benefits gained from installing the EMS.

With increasing legislative measures being levied on commercial and industrial premises to reduce energy consumption, there’s no time like the present to invest in an EMS or to upgrade to a more sophisticated version. With a typical payback period of just two to three years, it’s an investment that will yield substantial returns for years to come.