Organizations of every kind throughout Europe are facing challenges. After dealing with the business impacts of the pandemic and starting to take steps to comply with net-zero carbon commitments, they are now experiencing skyrocketing gas and electricity prices resulting from the conflict in Europe. But there are three immediate measures we recommend that will help reduce your buildings’ energy consumption – in this post, I’ll look at the first one.
Escalating energy prices in Europe are affecting costs, profits, and – in some cases – business continuity. Energy policy decisions in recent years – such as Germany’s abandoning nuclear energy – have increased Europe’s dependency on Russian fossil fuels. Due to these factors and more, the European energy crisis is expected to continue for at least two winters.
As discussed in a previous post, the European Commission has proposed voluntary base electricity reductions of 10%, along with mandatory 5% cuts to consumption during peak hours. European governments are implementing measures to meet these targets and avoid the possibility of energy rationing. Your business should be putting in place its own measures.
This is the second in our blog series offering three recommended emergency measures to help you withstand the energy crisis. If you own or operate commercial and industrial facilities, read on to discover the first immediate measure you should be taking today to prepare for the next two years and beyond.
The need for energy metering and management
Often quoted and still valid: you can’t manage what you can’t measure. You need data to help you determine the best ways to reduce energy consumption and create a positive return on investment long into the future. However, Schneider Electric estimates that 90% of electrical distribution systems do not have metering connected to energy management systems, meaning most facility operators work blind without data to drive decisions.
The digitalization of your electrical system with metering, and the accurate energy data it provides, makes the invisible visible. Fortunately, there are affordable ways to add metering to your existing electrical infrastructure, including wireless options. If you already have metering but need to add an energy management system, this can be done via on-premise software or as a cybersecure, cloud-based app. All solutions are highly scalable, so you can start monitoring only your most important loads – such as HVAC cooling and heating, lighting, electric vehicle (EV) charging, etc. – then expand to sub-metering other loads later.
Submetering offers more granular data that can support deeper insights. For example, you could monitor energy consumption by floor, zone, room, load types, equipment, process, etc.
Through this digitalization, your facility team will now be able to:
- Identify specific areas of inefficiency
- Prioritize repair or improvement projects based on savings potential
- Build a business case for your C-level executives
- Take action and confirm savings afterward
In the post-COVID market, when many office buildings are repurposed to remain fully occupied and profitable, new operations may generate power quality issues that affect other tenants. This means your building’s future energy profile may be different from its profile in the past. In these cases, it is essential to have sub-metering devices with embedded power quality analysis capabilities to help isolate problem sources and ensure the reliable delivery of high-quality power.
Energy intelligence enables fast action and quick wins
With energy management analytics delivering deeper, facility-wide insights, you will have several opportunities to improve building performance and energy efficiency while reducing energy-related emissions. Here are a few examples:
- Identify electrical or building management equipment (e.g., boilers, chillers) that are wasting energy and require maintenance or replacement.
- Identify floors, rooms, or other areas that should have heating, cooling, or lighting reduced or turned off at times when not occupied.
- Lower the level of heating to an acceptable minimum in occupied areas.
- Identify the most energy-efficient buildings, floors, or rooms and schedule activities to maximize the use of those areas. Document the steps that enable efficiency and apply those best practices to similar spaces.
- Identify other loads to reduce – e.g., water cooling for drinking fountains – or high-consuming loads or processes to reschedule to off-peak hours.
- Use intelligent load shedding to reduce peak demand – for example, by dynamically managing EV charging.
- Share energy consumption reports or dashboards with employees and tenants to help educate and drive energy-efficient behaviors that reduce consumption and CO2 footprint.
- Share successes with other facilities or campuses within your organization’s portfolio to help them accelerate efficiency and decarbonization.
These actions you take today will help you comply with new regulations to reduce energy consumption. But they will also deliver a return on investment over the short and long term by helping you reduce energy costs and emissions. In this way, the energy crisis is simply increasing the urgency to take measures that will become your corporate best practices on your journey to net-zero Buildings of the Future that are good for the environment, occupants, and your bottom line.
In this series, the following posts will describe how building management automation and control, analytics and services, electrification, and renewable microgrids can help you push efficiency, cost savings, and decarbonization even further.
Schneider Electric offers a complete range of digital energy management solutions, including EcoStruxure™ Power Monitoring Expert software, our cloud-based EcoStruxure Energy Hub, and PowerLogic™ PowerTag wireless energy sensors.