Great news from Beijing, China, mark your diary, on 20 March 2017, RTHK (www.rthk.org.hk) reported that “….the last large coal-fired power plant in Beijing has suspended operations, with the city’s electricity now generated by natural gas” LINK: http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1320043-20170319.htm Meanwhile here in Asia’s World city, burning coal for power generation continues.
Improving productivity is one of those subjective areas that rarely attracts much attention, studies show that comfort conditions are critical, is it a key part of the goals for a green building, for productively.
Where the people feel their work environment is too hot, too cold, too dry or too wet, productivity drops, and in Hong Kong it is a real issue since most buildings have no winter heating.
A recent survey, by a software company, supports the notion that your workers are dissatisfaction with environmental conditions, and that in turn impacts the productivity of your business.
More detailed than other studies, this survey covers different genders, and different seasons. One finding is stands out immediately the report states 10% of staff are totally dissatisfied.
Whilst this will not be surprising to Building Services engineers who are taught that engineering systems can only satisfy 80% of the occupants in room, It is time to challenge those empirical tests, when we have better options, underfloor distribution, and smart phone computers in our pockets.
However, visit any modern building and you will still find the room sensors in odd positions, often outside the occupied zone, this strategy only provides the general/average room condition (often near the ceiling) not the conditions where the people are working.
Hotel function rooms have sensors located 6m above the occupants, so the HVAC system is working hard to main the conditions for the ceiling zone not the people zone. Also lighting fittings, hand dryers, etc. which act as localized heaters, installed beneath sensors influencing the room conditions.
We know there are insufficient resources to go around, right? Perhaps not. However, there are options, the idea of one planet living (http://www.oneplanetliving.com) gives guidance, like David Letterman’s feature, it provides a convenient top ten list, but how can we migrate from the status quo to a more sustainable future?
Green Building or clean technologies? What is the solution? Well in reality it is not that easy, I have seen Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) intended to provide fan speed control and save energy, locked at one speed, I have seen the building’s central chiller plant operated when one room demands cooling, I have seen room temperature sensors located above lighting fittings (lights are heaters) therefore the air conditioning system continuously calls for more cooling. etc.
So if I have learned one thing, it’s not the latest new idea or the wizbang technology itself that matters, what really matters is how we use the equipment and operate the facilities.
But before we all become operator angels, we will need to optimise and improve design, and not just buildings, but their context, we need more design not less, and we have to be prepared to pay for it. The challenges we face require scaled solutions, beyond a single building, and communities provide sufficient scale to enable working solutions (see also Every Community a Powerhouse).
And these solutions should be local. In my diagram above, waste can be managed AND reused. For example, water a separate stack would collect greywater for reuse primarily within the community, for example irrigation or process water for local industry.
Its more important than ever before that Eco-districts cover all aspects of our daily life including work! In the USA vast cities developed where work and home are very separate, with little public transportation, the urban sprawl created the un-walkable distance, increasing the demand for a private car, and in reality more than one car.
Creating distal residential areas in remote isolation is a recipe for disaster, we need closer communities, communities where certain resources can be shared or call them eco-districts, which are places we can work, play, and live.
We must optimise the use of resources, rainwater can be captured from several buildings are used communally for industrial use, irrigation, or your local energy generation. We have become accustomed to throwing things away, out of sight – out of mind, but there is no away, a far better solution is to handle all waste locally, and yes we should encourage more recycling, but we must be practical, and the local reminder (that there is no away) should be visible in your backyard, and it should be used locally whether for power generation, compost, or biogas (fuel for cooking) when possible locally.
We invest in expensive and energy-hungry air conditioning systems for offices that are typically used 9-7, then we repeat the investment and resource use, providing air conditioning for homes, with a little planning forethought, and load profile analysis, one AC system could serve both the office (during the day) and our homes (outside office hours), this natural synergy would save considerable cost and resource use.
The technology exists, but that is the easy part, we need solutions at scale, we need Government, stakeholders, communities to embrace change, and start managing and operating the entire planet.
Annual Energy Costs Before, and then After new BMS installation
There is a school of thought, in the race for low carbon, lower energy consumption, etc. that installing a new BMS (building management system) will magically solve all your energy problems. A quick review of the above chart gives the hard evidence, it failed, and it is difficult to believe that more building owners don’t demand evidence from vendors, after installation, to support those glossy brochures.
In my experience, vendors sell sell sell, install, and move on to the next project, but where is the Measurement and Verification (M&V)? What is M&V? It is the name given to process, that will essentially prove or disprove that those promised energy savings were achieved.
Generally, little post installation checking is conducted to try and validate the promised savings were achieved, whereas in reality the results are poor. In the above example, the peak month energy consumption actually increased by approx. HKD 90,000, hardly the savings often touted in the brochures.
Central Chiller Plant Hunting – poor operation hurts energy consumption
Fortunately, whilst conducting energy audits I have access to the raw data, and plot charts like the above, and find a new BMS alone not the best choice for energy management.
Whether you choose a BMS, variable speed drives, or other means, you should pay the extra to monitor and report the results – trust but verify! Properly commissioned installations can help monitor operating costs, but that is not the answer to improving energy efficiency.
The Guangdong municipal Government in South China has created an energy efficiency funding scheme, not unlike CP3 (Cleaner Production Partnership Programme). For energy and environmental improvement projects RMB 300 million (Approx. US$ 44 million) has been allocated for 1:1 cost match basis. Also upto RMB 300,000 (approx US$ 43,000) is available for a specific project proposal.
[PRD – the Pearl River Delta region]
by John A. Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia
Hong Kong is a great location, indeed I am fortunate to meet a great number of smart, intelligent people that travel through Hong Kong, this week alone I met a Government Minister, a project developer, and financiers from the energy sector.
Its dark down here
I am equally sure that for all the talk about energy efficiency improvement projects, not many people have actually spent as much time in plant rooms as I. Continue reading →
Often you don’t even need to go inside a building to see opportunities for energy conservation in Hong Kong. Sadly this opportunity (refer photograph) was many lost years ago at design stage when the lighting control strategy was planned and conceived.
Perhaps it is not clear from the photograph, I took this photo on a glorious sunny morning yet the unneeded halogen incandescent fittings burned bright, serving no useful purpose except burn extra carbon.
And that is the reason why independent third party energy consultants review projects, to highlight these opportunities before the die is cast.
Consultant Kelcroft E&M Limited helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia
Save the date! Greenbuild Asia 2009 is coming back to Hong Kong in 2009.
Indeed I am fortunate to be chosen to speak on the green building expert panel (PM 9th July 2009). It should be interesting event, awareness of green building has never been higher. I will continue to advocate for the wider understanding and adoption of WSD (Whole System Design) principals, also called Integrated Design.
And I am also certain that the issues surrounding certified green buildings that are not energy efficient and carbon will be a hot topics this year.
Leave a comment suggesting a hot green building topic
I rarely follow the advice of so called “business gurus”, perhaps I should. But I do read Seth Godin’s blog. If you have never heard of Seth, he is the author of several best selling business books in the USA. And he still inspires me today. He recently remarked on this blog that to grow a business you need three elements:
1. A group of possible customers you can identify and reach
2. A group with a problem they want to solve using your solution
3. A group with the desire and ability to spend money to solve that problem
Item 3 is particularly interesting for energy professionals – How can the energy industry persuade new customers to part with their hard earned money to lower their operating costs and lower their carbon footprint.
Potential customers offer a range of reasons not to buy, ranging from the obvious to to the sublime, and the often cited cost is just one obstacle. I sure this is a question is vexing the minds of many. Perhaps the energy industry should offer more guarantees – a cost saving guarantee, using the Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) model. However, an EPC is not a silver bullet solution, it is not for everyone, and some facilities can’t take advantage of EPC’s due to the high transaction cost.
As living standards here in Asia has increased, the demand for electricity has sky rocketed, mainly generated by from coal burning, with areas of south China and PRD region consistently suffered power shortages over the last few years is evidence of that. However, it is often difficult to gain sufficient traction for big issues let me give you an example, a recent report stated that many emanate financial experts predicted the financial crisis but the problem was too hard for government to take preventative action, same applies to climate change. It is hard for organisations to deal with big issues period.
I think energy professionals need to help, we need to help advise and educate businesses, and stakeholders to create a demand before thinking about the sale.