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Increasingly, more and more companies are starting to pay attention to the fact that they need to be more sustainable and reduce their energy consumption. Not only is energy a major factor of most businesses operational costs, energy prices are continuing to rise and show no signs of stabilising anytime soon.
The cost of energy is overtaking all other variable costs in most industries. From 1993 to 2006 the cost of natural gas increased over 250 percent. And during this same period the cost of fuels and power increased over 110 percent. Managers are asking, ‘How can we better manage these costs?’ and ‘How can we better utilise our resources?’
Companies are also now recognising that their customers expect them to be part of the national and global energy sustainability solution. With stringent government energy targets on the agenda as well as the need for transparency via the likes of Corporate Social Responsibility reports, businesses must show that they are undertaking strategies to help meet our current and future energy demands in an environmentally responsible way.
It’s for these reasons that our team at IES have been busy using our technology to create a unique process called CI2©, that helps building owners to eliminate hidden waste and find resultant cost savings. In the past identifying hidden waste has typically required looking at each control or analysing utility bills and having a ‘gut-feel’ as to the source of a problem area. This has led to energy waste remaining undetected, draining resources for years. Now, break-through advances in building simulation technology and the creation of Ci2© means that you can collect and investigate your actual energy usage, as recorded by your Building Management System (BMS) or your Automatic Meter Readers (AMR), to pinpoint exactly when and where your buildings are wasting energy.
Companies such as John Lewis in the UK and Walgreens in the US are already seeing the benefits of this. By comparing how their stores are performing against enhanced virtual models of how they could be performing, they’ve been able make informed investment decisions about how best to upgrade core plant equipment, improve the fabric of their buildings or add ‘green’ technology such as voltage optimisation, LED lighting or solar VP.
Let’s look closer at the Walgreens project. Walgreens have set a target to reduce its energy use by 20 percent in every store by 2020, but that mission alone isn’t enough for Walgreens: It has decided to go steps further and build the nation’s first net-zero energy retail store, located outside of Chicago in Evanston, Ill. The project anticipates earning Net-Zero Energy Building Certification by U.S. DOE standards, and LEED Platinum, Living Building and Green Chill Platinum certifications. Walgreens estimates the store will use 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity while generating 220,000 kilowatt hours per year. As the store will serve as a living laboratory, Walgreens has made an investment in energy metering, building automation and measurement and verification. Using IES technology and its Ci2© process Walgreens are tracking and regulating the performance of the building very closely to ensure it performs as predicted and achieves their Net-Zero target. Since opening in November 2013 the store is on target to achieve its goal after the first year of opening.
Commercial buildings utilise more than 42% of all electricity produced, yet waste up to 50%. It is clear that looking at innovative ways to manage energy use across the building portfolio offers very substantial savings. There are a myriad of things companies could be doing to reduce their energy costs. The challenge is working out what actions will generate the biggest return for their organisation, small actions can immediately be put in place to generate savings, therefore, self-funding further building improvement plans. Many companies are just embarking on this journey while others are way ahead and making steady improvement.
So what is your company doing to prevent energy waste? Is it utilising technology and processes like those IES provide to continually monitor and evaluate your building to prove various options that will save you both energy and money? It should be.
For more information you can visit http://www.iesve.com/building-operation