Is your BMS the answer to the energy crisis?

BMS the cure or curse?

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.

BMS chiller operation

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.


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.