I’m Steve Browning, Partner and End Customer Marketing Communications Manager at Trend Control Systems . As we enter British Summer Time (BST) I explain why optimising a Building Energy Management System (BEMS) can help occupants enjoy excellent comfort conditions inside, even though the temperatures can fluctuate wildly outside.
As I left for work this morning it was a rather brisk 4°C, yet the weather forecast predicted that the temperature would reach the dizzy heights of 18°C by early afternoon. Yes, spring has arrived in the UK and temperatures can swing rapidly from hot to cold and everything in-between.
At this point, I’d like to issue a reminder that even though most BEMS will auto-adjust to BST, any plant that is not connected will need to be manually changed to account for the time difference. That aside, spring is also the season when the ability of a BEMS to react in a timely fashion to the temperatures outside can have a huge impact on energy and cost savings.
This time of year also exacerbates how different individuals react to temperature fluctuations and if a BEMS is not configured to take account of outside conditions it won’t react to them in a timely fashion, creating a situation that can lead to conflict, discomfort and energy wastage indoors. The fact is that some people won't think twice about opening a window if they consider it too hot, while others reach for the portable heater as soon as they feel the slightest bit chilly. This means that energy is being wasted on a truly colossal scale – something that could easily be avoided with a correctly optimised BEMS.
The problem of energy wastage is enormous and, according to a study conducted by the University of Reading , UK office buildings are the second most energy-intensive, CO2 emitting building type in the commercial sector, after retail. Meanwhile, through our energy audits, Trend has concluded that 39 per cent of energy is wasted within the workplace.
If a BEMS is unable to react quickly to create optimal comfort conditions based on criteria such as levels of occupation, patterns of usage and outside temperature, it will fail to serve its intended purpose. An environment that is too hot or cold can make it difficult to remain alert and focused, leading to symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. Ideally, a BEMS should automatically control to pre-defined setpoints – constantly tracking changes in both external and internal temperatures and adjusting the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) before occupants even notice.
Now is a good time to ‘spring clean’ a BEMS, making sure that any changes in building layouts and occupancy patterns are accounted for; time clocks and setpoints are configured correctly; control loops, valves, actuators and sensors are calibrated; and electrical equipment is not located in positions that could have a detrimental effect on the control of the building. Put simply, a BEMS that has been neglected won’t create the desired climate when it’s needed. It’s all about getting the balance right and the good news is that any building that has a correctly configured BEMS should be able to make its occupants feel comfortable at work – whatever the weather.
Furthermore, a properly maintained system will ensure that building services operate in strict accordance with demand, thereby avoiding unnecessary use of energy. As always, if support is needed there’s a highly skilled network of Trend Technology Centres and Trend Systems Integrators that will be only too happy to assist.