Regular readers of our blog will know that we’re big advocates for improving the operational management of energy use in commercial buildings. That is, making sure you understand when and why your sites use energy, and then tuning and tweaking to ensure there is as little energy wasted as possible. As obvious as that may sound, it’s an often-neglected aspect of energy management.
Importantly, the focus is around paying closer attention to the existing building systems, and this makes it the rather less sexy, but no less valuable cousin to capital intensive energy efficiency upgrades. Improving operational efficiency doesn’t have to be hard or expensive, in fact, for a recent Greensense client it was both relatively simple, and provided immediate cost savings.
The client is a national entertainment group with a number of sites across Australia. Each site has a manager responsible for operations, and who has a good understanding of their property, but with very limited access to energy data. They also don’t pay the bill, which is taken care of at head office.
The sites are very similar in nature and all operate from 10am to midnight 7 days a week. Despite the similarities, energy performance across the properties varies considerably, suggesting there are differences in how they are operated, and opportunities to save energy focused on operational changes.
How we helped
The client engaged us to provide Greensense View Energy Management Software to help them better understand their patterns of energy use and to identify performance improvements, with an initial focus on after-hours consumption – that is, making sure sites are properly shut down at the end of each day to minimise energy consumption when there are empty. The advantage of an initial focus on after-hours is it addresses the energy use that is providing the least business benefit.
Site managers receive online access to Greensense View to review the energy performance of the site they manage, with the ability to quickly set up alerts to notify them when energy consumption deviates from the expected, and, crucially, the ability to compare the performance of their site to others in the portfolio. This last element, a form of implied competition, has been particularly important in motivating site managers!
The chart below compares the weekly energy performance of the portfolio before (orange) and after (blue) the rollout of the Greensense software. You can clearly see the reduction in after-hours consumption (from midnight and 10am) highlighted in green. These savings, which equate to a reduction in after-hours consumption of around 18%, were the result of a range of relatively small operational changes at each site, mostly related to the timing around when HVAC and Lighting were actually required.
The chart below shows that improvements were made across almost every site. In the first month of using Greensense View, 16 of the 19 sites showed improvements in after-hours consumption with the worst performers showing the biggest improvement.
Whilst it’s still relatively early days, initial improvements have so far been sustained; in the first three months using the software, the client has saved an impressive 114 MWh of electricity across their sites, reducing after hours spend by 18% and generating positive monthly cash flows after the small additional cost of Greensense View.
To put that 114 MWh in perspective, they would need to install around 300 kW of solar to generate the same amount of energy over the same three-month period.
Yes, your Energy Management Strategy should have multiple elements including upgrades and improvements to building systems, and new energy infrastructure like solar PV or co-generation systems (and in the future, battery storage). Greensense View can help you target these kinds of investments, and measure and verify the savings.
But don’t forget that some of the simplest and most cost-effective changes you can make may still be as simple as turning off the lights when you don’t need them. If you’d like to find out more about how Greensense can help you reduce your energy spend then please contact the team.