Developing tactics

Published:  19 February, 2006

Dalkia
Legislation has put in place measures to not only reduce energy spend saving on carbon emissions, but also to create commercial environments that are pleasant places for staff and operatives to convene and work in.

IAN ADAMS offers advice on how building services contractors, facilities managers and building owners can take a tactical approach in preparation for the introduction of the new Building Regulations.

The burgeoning number of regulatory measures that the building or facilities professional is faced with can often present a real obstacle in the form of paperwork and expensive measures to ensure compliance. Support in the form of understanding and an experienced handle on the implications during the preparation for legislation and implementation of compliant measures can make a real difference to the organisation in question. The development of a tactical approach to preparing for legislation is the most valuable tool in the building-services armoury.

Radically improve

The introduction of revisions to Part L of the Building Regulations, the performance-related standard by which all buildings are measured against the carbon-dioxide emissions rate for heating, hot water, and lighting, is expected to radically improve the energy performance in most UK commercial buildings — contributing, in turn, to the UK’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. With the new approved document coming on line later this year, to ensure compliance with the legal obligations set out in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) a tactical approach to regulations can bring considerable benefits to the bottom line — freeing up budgets which can be ploughed back into the improvement and refurbishment of the building and its services.

The impending revision to Part F of the Building Regulations is directly linked to the EPBD and addresses the energy efficiency in terms of the efficient ventilation of the building with a performance-based approach. The recommendation for the air supply in offices has now been raised to 10 l/s per person. There is guidance on the design and installation of passive stack ventilation systems design and also means for minimising the ingress of potential pollutants into buildings in urban areas.

Energy rating

According to a recent Government statement on the EPBD, and in addition to these revisions to the Building Regulations, all buildings will require an energy rating according to their efficiency and performance. This measure will require the mobilisation of approved building inspectors, qualifying criteria for which are currently being discussed by DIAG (the Directive Implementation Advisory Group) with involvement from Dalkia. As an outsourced energy-management company, Dalkia is well-positioned for its own staff to perform energy-rating inspections on behalf of its customers.

Refurbishment of light fittings is one of the largest areas for significant energy saving measures. By replacing old T5 lamps energy savings of up to 30% can be made.

Fresh outlook

Bringing an outsourced company on board will also have the benefit of bringing a fresh outlook to the operational, even at the early design stages — delivering new ways in which to improve energy efficiency as well as ensuring compliance. An outsourced company’s tactical responses to the quirks of a particular building can be developed on the basis of experience gleaned from similar situations. Having dealt with lots of buildings, of differing ages, uses, needs and styles, a company taking an objective stance can apply past experience to the problems faced.

By observing the working patterns of the people who use the building and responding in an objective way, the energy performance can be micro-managed in order to hone its impact on the bottom line. A case in point is that of a busy call centre, where staff complained of feeling cold when their PC monitors were replaced with flat screens. The reason was that the previous monitors had produced more heat that flat-screens, so replacing them at once had significant impact on the warmth of the room. The solution was to adjust the building’s temperature controls accordingly.

Energy-efficient operation in line with the EPBD and in compliance with its related legislation such as Part F and Part L can usually be improved through better management, policy, maintenance, monitoring and control at a low capital cost. In the case of older buildings, there may be the requirement for more extreme measures — in some instances complete infrastructure overhaul — while brand-new developments will enjoy the benefits of having energy efficiency and compliance with current legislation built-in at the design stages.

Refurbishment

Even minor refurbishment can have an impact on the ventilation and other energy-efficient aspects of the building. More major refurbishment offers the ideal opportunity for building managers to ensure energy-efficient measures are built in to the design of the building’s infrastructure.

A key example of this is the improvements that can readily be made in lighting commercial buildings. It is not only the overall ambience, look and feel of a building, but also the energy cost savings (up to 30%) that are of significant note. Incandescent lamps can be changed for fluorescent versions; where there is a requirement for linear fluorescent lamps, the more efficient T8 or T5 lamps should be employed. These have a higher efficacy than the older, yet still common, T12 lamps.

An outsourced energy-management partner such as Dalkia can advise on the best solution for a particular building in practical terms of the needs of the people working within that environment, the impact of any measures taken and the ongoing implications. This expertise comes down to the scope of broader experience that such a company can draw on.

Major refurbishment measures using energy efficient plant such as combined heat and power (CHP) or condensing boilers are a major way in which to make a building more energy efficient and compliant with regulations.

Valuable input

Energy-efficient design is unlikely to be achieved without an integrated design team. A multi-disciplinary team, appointed at the early stages, will ensure good interaction between disciplines. An outsourced partner company can provide valuable input in the design and planning stages, drawing on experience from other similar situations to apply what has been proven to work, and using targets and life-cycle costing throughout the project to develop teamwork for an integrated approach. Joined-up thinking in terms of the building’s design is a crucial aspect of its ultimate energy efficiency, and all those involved from architects and building-services engineers to contractors and facilities managers must communicate to ensure that the final product meets the requirements of everyone.

The new regulations require building owners to provide prospective tenants or purchasers with a breakdown of cost-effective energy measures that have been undertaken or recommended. The support of an outsourced FM or energy-management company can be invaluable at any stage, from new-build design, through to instances where the building has reached the point at which major refurbishment gives the opportunity to improve its energy efficiency.

Cost of compliance

The cost of compliance in achieving energy efficiency can be expressed in several ways. The simple payback period is the initial outlay split over monthly or annual cost savings. Life-cycle costing is the most common, and a method used by an outsourced energy management company to measure the effectiveness of measures undertaken.

Where plant needs to be replaced, the true cost of installing energy-efficient plant is only the over-cost compared to the minimum required for regulatory compliance — for example, the extra cost of a high-efficiency condensing boiler compared with a conventional boiler. This approach substantially reduces payback periods and increases the cost effectiveness of energy efficiency measures.

The most obvious benefit of legislation compliance and implementing energy efficiency is lower running costs, amounting to large savings over the life of the building. A better building, with a greater level of comfort, is a better working environment for staff and operatives — while more satisfied tenants can have spin-off benefits such as greater workplace productivity.

Ian Adams is marketing manager with Dalkia Energy & Technical Services, The Connect Centre, Kingston Crescent, Portsmouth PO2 8AD



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