Maintain control and save embarrassment

European legislation aimed at improving the energy performance of buildings, and thereby reducing carbon emissions, is now beginning to have an impact in the UK. One consequence of the legislation has been the widely reported fiasco of including energy performance certificates in Home Information Packs for residential property sales. The non-residential sector will soon also be affected; from April 2008 all public sector buildings over 1,000 square metres, including part-occupied premises, will have to prominently display a Display Energy Certificate giving a performance rating based on their annual energy consumption.

Certificates will be valid for one year and must be supplied by an accredited assessor, who will also issue an advisory report containing recommendations for improving the building’s energy performance. The occupier must retain this report, which perversely is valid for seven years. There is a penalty charge of £1000 for failing to do so. Failure to display the energy certificate carries a penalty of £500.

So what? There is nothing here that smacks of obligation or enforcement, only the threat perhaps of a little mild embarrassment. There is nothing that will create a climate of change in the way premises and facilities managers approach dealing with energy conservation among their myriad other duties. Energy management is a process of continual improvement and that is what should be expected as a minimum - year-on-year improvements in the operational ratings of buildings and meaningful penalties for failing to meet targets. A 3% improvement per year amounts to a massive 14% over 5 years, and 3% need not be that difficult to attain.

In many instances simple housekeeping measures are sufficient. However, one of the most productive means of saving energy - and one that is all too often overlooked – involves resetting the heating and ventilation control systems to reflect the actual needs of the building and its occupants. Control systems are frequently adjusted for what at the time are perfectly legitimate reasons - such as extended occupancy or changes to temperature requirements - but are then never reset when the need for the adjustment has ended. Such changes can easily become permanent.

A well-maintained building management system can offer various other opportunities for delivering energy savings. For instance, it can alert building operators when consumption is outside expected profiles or a particular system is not operating efficiently, or there are system faults that could have an impact on energy performance. All this can be easily achieved through regular control system audits, such as the ‘IQ Assured’ energy audit available from Trend.

Chris Monson,
Strategic Marketing Manager, Trend Control Systems Ltd