Beijing Style Energy Management

What does energy management mean to you, turning off the lights? When the mandatory efficiency improvements were considered too hard or too difficult some twenty provinces in China decided that simply cutting the power supply to industrial undertakings was one solution to gain energy efficiency points.

energy management

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Energy management is a science, obtaining more whether it is more work, goods or output, without increasing the fuel consumption. Faced with increasing pressure the Chinese officials in China opted for a lights off campaign, preventing fuel consumption to meet their target – that does not improve the energy efficiency or manage energy and fuel resources effectively it only hides the root cause of the problem.

Perhaps if the guidance, used better terminology to define the goal, surely that must be one of the lessons to be learned, as the capital has now banned the use of power cuts as a means to meet the energy efficiency targets.

The utility sector have been promoting “Smart Grid”, ironic then than China itself has promoted a smarter grid as a solution yet its instrument for change is power cuts.

John Herbert energy consultant Hong Kong

Power generating utilities across the globe have moving to implement “Smart Grid” systems but will it really benefit the consumers?  The grid is dumb and will not be smarter, however metering data with Automatic Metering Reading (AMR) technology will improve. Since this extra data will be available to the meter owners  namely the utilities, I predict that the grid will not be any smarter tomorrow than it is today. The utilities will have the data, and be able to dramatically influence future management (read cost increases) so in the end the consumer that will need to bear the cost and suffer the consequences.

— John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

The above extract was published and printed in the South China Morning Post newspaper on 21 September 2010.

Hong Kong’s Poor Indoor Air Quality

A Hong Kong office indoor air quality survey released last week reminds us the office environment has improved little over the years, the findings show 27% of those surveyed report bad indoor office environment.

Background
In the early 80’s the phrase poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) came to forefront. Many reasons were cited as the explanation for the degrading office environment, the most likely culprit being the energy crisis. Dramatically increasing fuel costs encouraged building owners to use frugal quantities of outdoor air impacting the air quality. One result, a whole new range of terminology emerged including tight building, building related illness, sick buildings, and Sick Building syndrome.

The quantity of the Outdoor Air (OA) is obviously important, particularly in the regions with high humidity, causing a significant latent load. However, the source of the air is also critical, drawing Outdoor Air from a polluted source drags particulate matter and chemical pollutants into the office air.

Solutions
If there is one solution, we must recognise that Green Building assessments including BEAM, recognises the importance of the indoor environment and the impact on productivity. BEAM Plus allocates 32 credit points to the indoor quality environment aspect. Furthermore it shows us that energy efficient HVAC solutions are needed to ensure the right quantity of clean Outdoor Air is provided when needed.

– John Herbert, consultant, Kelcroft

You’re paying too much

Those shoes you bought last week, that new furniture you ordered, your laundry bill, even that trendy shirt cost too much.  Why? because the manufacturers, and their supply chain have wasted energy, that in turn means higher costs that ultimately you as consumer have to pay.  As you reading there are countless injection moulding machines, chillers, entire data centres, and other production equipment operated with careless abandon wasting energy Gigawatts of energy with nobody minding the store. I have visit many facilities, a couple of recent examples might surprise you:

  • Comfort air conditioning plant running 24 hours/day for an office block with only 9-5 occupancy!
  • Steam systems where process equipment burns unnecessary fuel, poor steam distribution, no condensate recovery

Reality bites, its you the consumer pays that for this waste.

Why waste energy?
So the real question: why do these businesses keep wasting energy? Is it the often cited lack of technology, finance, or availability of know how? I think not. Seriously, is it that difficult to Goggle energy consultant, pick up a phone and ask? It might be an awareness problem, but it’s not a shortage of resource problem.

A code problem?
One of the often cited explanations is absentee regulation. Generally every facility must be built to the current “code” for example the local fire code. But in circumstances where no code exists, i.e. energy waste, there is no limitation to the amount can be wasted.  However, assume for a moment the plant was efficient on day one, it is commonly recognized that maintenance budgets are wholly inadequate, so over time the plant efficiency deteriorates resulting in excessive waste. For buildings an energy code is not going to solve all the problems.

Accountability
Yes, having an Energy Czar, reporting at board level puts a driver at the wheel of the bus, but is that enough? You also need the ability to handle change, without guidance and drive we all generally work to avoid change. We are creatures of habit, and prefer the easy way, its less stressful, less pain, than considering change.  We need support, we need systems to motivate and embrace change. And I feel that is the real key to understanding energy efficiency projects, we all know having management “buy in” is critical, however if the employees fear change little progress would be made.

Often the employees already know where energy could be saved, but businesses are not structured to leverage that knowledge. Large facilities with quality circles, etc. have the opportunity to use that change structure to benefit the bottomline.

– John Herbert, Consultant, Kelcroft E&M Limited

helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia

Lost Energy Efficiency Opportunites

Energy efficient design opportunities lost, John Herbert, Kelcroft, EnergyLAB, Hong Kong,  energy efficiency

Energy efficient design opportunities lost

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.

John Herbert
Consultant
Kelcroft E&M Limited
helping lower the cost and impact of doing business in Asia

Top Ten Energy Conservation Tips

Top ten list of energy smart decisions:

1. If you can’t measure it, how can you manage it? Regularly monitor and record on your electricity consumption, plus other fuels such as gas and oil. Provide and monitor sub-meters to record different systems and sub-systems.  Also don’t forget that utility companies are not infallible – remember to check that your bills relate to the fuel that you actually used rather than an “estimated” meter reading.

Incidentally, the fact that BEAM rewards a credit for energy sub-metering is an indication of the importance of energy awareness.

2. Switch off lights in empty rooms – sounds like common-sense doesn’t it? Turning off lights in unoccupied rooms and corridors especially at the end of the day. This can save up to 10% of your energy bill. And yes that includes fluorescent lighting fittings.

3. Use energy efficient light fittings – they use 25% less power and last six times longer. Switching to the last technology today will save the cost of the investment long before the old lamps have expired – recoup the savings today.

4. Use the light you need. Bright corridors? delamp (remove) or switch off alternate lighting fittings.

5. Use daylight it’s free, so regularly clean your windows.

6. Clean light fittings regularly – Dirt reduces lighting levels, encouraging people to switch on more lights.

7. Too cold, set the room thermostat at comfort levels say 24°.  Air conditioning consumes forty percent (40%) of buildings energy. For example, every 1° decrease in room temperature, the energy cost increases by approximately eight percent (8%) .

8. If humidity and condensation is not a risk, don’t pay for cooling unused space e.g. empty offices, storerooms, corridors, etc. turn off the air conditioning.

9. Check that your thermostats are property sited, out of draughts and away from cold or hot spots. Consider installing remote sensing or wireless. Bonus tip – horrified, I saw a the air conditioning thermostat installed next the hand dryer – please don’t.

10. Keep equipment such as air conditioners and filters clean. Dirt reduces efficiency and lowers output.

Bonus Tip

Top eleven tips just didn’t sound right, so here is a bonus tip, it is so critical that I can’t possibly leave it out – Lead by example.

If management and senior managers are “seen” to ignore the new corporate energy measures, I guarantee that your efforts will fail. It is human nature, people follow visual cues for seventy five percent (75%) of their information – we watch and learn. Actively demonstrating energy conservation will do more to promote energy conservation campaign within your organisation or business than a memo will ever achieve. Plan to ensure that your employees see your energy strategy.