How Much Energy Did Your Office Use On Christmas Day?

20 Jan 2016 by Peter

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It’s that time of year again where we analyse the energy performance of office buildings from around the country to see just how good or bad the holiday handover was. In 2015 Christmas Day once again fell on a weekday, Friday the 25th. If you’re an avid reader of our blog you’ll know that public holidays are often responsible for significant energy waste in buildings as they, or the management tools controlling them, often fail to recognise the holiday and so run energy guzzling systems despite the building being unoccupied.

You might reasonably think that Christmas Day would be one of the quietest days of the year for office buildings and that energy use would be corresponding low, right? Not quite. Whilst a survey we conducted on occupancy rates for Christmas Day last year confirms that our buildings are indeed largely unoccupied, energy use is a different story.

To show you what we mean, we’ve analysed energy data for six office buildings below to illustrate the problem.  More specifically we’ve compared the energy use on Christmas Day to two other days in December – Friday the 18th and Saturday the 19th. Why these days? Well they provide us with a benchmark weekday when the buildings are occupied, and a benchmark weekend day, when the buildings are unoccupied.

The energy profile of each building is shown below. Our benchmark weekday is shown in grey, Christmas Day a festive red and our benchmark weekend day in green.

Christmas day 2015_builing energy profiles

The results show that while Building 1 enjoyed a festive break like the rest of us, the remaining five buildings clearly behaved as if were a regular weekday. These buildings performed better than our sample from last year, but as a whole, energy consumption on Christmas Day was higher by 24% than the benchmark weekend day.

As we’ve mentioned previously, the issue here is that Christmas Day, a public holiday, fell on a weekday. Building automation systems are used to following the simple routine of weekdays followed by a weekend, but are often caught out by public holidays.

This is highlighted in Buildings 2 to 6 where the HVAC fired up on Christmas Day. The energy profiles of these buildings give this detail away by clearly showing a sharp rise at around 6am, the HVAC tell tale.

For those wondering what was happening in Building 2 on Christmas Day, a quick check in Greensense View revealed that the tenants were responsible for the high baseload, which occurred for several days over the break. Whilst Building 4 isn’t an energy guzzling office tower, it’s worth noting it is a 5 Star Green Star building, highlighting the importance of monitoring of even the most modern and green buildings.

The solution to this problem may seem simple, programming the building to power down as if it were a weekend, but it continues to catch organisations out.

Australia Day is coming up soon, so be kind and make sure your building gets a deserved break too.

For more office energy efficiency tips, check our infographic, “15 Office Energy Saving Tips to Give Your Building a Holiday.”

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