Following on from my previous blog where we discussed the senseless practice of ‘heating fighting cooling’, one explanation for peoples’ bad behaviour could be that they are often so far removed from the BEMS that they feel powerless to make the type of ‘sensible’ adjustments that could reduce waste.
Giving local control back to stakeholders is important and devices are available that make energy management as simple and accessible as possible. Touchscreen displays provide a self-configuring user interface to a BEMS and, if sited in a prominent location, individuals can view and adjust operating times, monitor alarms and make modifications to controller parameters. Displaying schematics that provide real-time information such as temperature, humidity and setpoints from the system, allow users to directly adapt their environment and avoid taking alternative action.
It is also possible to offer a prominent visual reminder about energy use that indicates to occupants that their actions have environmental consequences. Software applications can feed information from a BEMS through to a large format monitor. Often located in reception areas and other similar high traffic locations, it provides a view of a building’s energy performance and presents a continually updated record of its consumption and carbon emissions – showing at a glance whether they are on, below or above performance targets.
A BEMS should never be considered a fit and forget technology, as getting the best out of it requires an ongoing optimisation programme that implements new technology, reconfigures setpoints and takes into account changes to a building’s layout and occupancy patterns. However, while the BEMS can do its bit to lower energy use, so too can a building's occupants. Wasting energy is akin to pouring money down the drain but providing employees with the tools to control the conditions that they have to work, as well as displaying the impact of their actions, will increase stakeholder engagement and help organisations achieve their corporate social responsibility based objectives.