An FM’s go-to guide for successfully reducing energy consumption

by FM Media
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Energy consumption

Facility managers are becoming increasingly focused on strategies that will help reduce energy consumption and improve sustainability programs. 

In 2021, the United States industrial sector accounted for 35 percent of the total end-use energy consumption. Small businesses in the United States spend more than 60 billion US dollars annually on energy.

In Australia, average annual energy bills for small businesses consuming 20,000 kWh increased by around 19 percent ($1,120) between October 2021 and October 2022, according to a report from Energy Consumers Australia.

By cutting these energy costs, companies can avoid allocating the already scarce resources to the energy budget. They can then redirect any savings to more value-adding processes. 

Bryan Christiansen shares his tips on how facilities can successfully reduce their energy consumption.

Reduce energy consumption after office hours

Facility managers should identify areas where their facilities can be more energy-efficient by tracking energy consumption after office hours. This involves identifying appliances, machines, equipment, and lights that are not in use and switching them off.

But this doesn’t have to be a manual process. For example, investing in smart lighting and installing smart thermostats allow a facility to save energy, go green, and reduce costs.  

Light automation controls allow facilities to take advantage of natural daylight. Lights will automatically dim or turn off if natural light is sufficient. They also use sensors to know that there are no people in a room and automatically switch off.

The automation of air-conditioning and blinds enables the control of temperature and blinds based on time of day, occupancy, and the natural heat in a room, thereby conserving energy.

Develop an internal standard energy policy

To develop internal energy-saving regulations and procedures, facility managers should engage stakeholders – including the management, custodians, maintenance personnel, and employees. Creating a policy is one way of integrating energy saving into a facility’s vision and operations. 

Energy conservation policies and programs drive the implementation of projects that reduce energy use. The policy states the minimum efficiency standards for equipment and appliances. Such standards require products to align with the maximum allowable energy consumption or to have particular features that save energy. The policy can also restrict the use of high-energy-consuming equipment.  

An internal energy policy entails education and behavior modification for employees. This program teaches employees how to modify their behavior and adopt the best practices for conserving energy. 

Plan your preventive maintenance strategy

Planned preventive maintenance on machinery and equipment can help identify and stop energy leaks. Though reactive maintenance may be cheaper in the short term, it reduces asset efficiency and reliability in the long run.    

Due to tear and wear, equipment and machinery become less efficient with time, meaning they will use more energy on the same output. For example, leaks in air handlers and HVAC units significantly contribute to energy waste. 

A study by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services revealed that a system leaks waste between 20 and 30 percent of an air compressor’s output. This is unfortunate because planned preventive maintenance can remedy such problems. Identifying and repairing leaks increases the equipment’s life, reduces runtime, and saves energy.  

Managers should develop a facility maintenance plan that covers all maintenance stages for all the assets in the facility. It should also identify all the people responsible.    

Leverage technology

Manufacturing and production facilities need data to lower energy consumption and cut costs. It is vital to have real-time insights into utilities, maintenance schedules, equipment, and inventory. They should analyze this data to identify and target areas of improvement. 

Technology plays a crucial role in enhancing a facility’s energy conservation efforts. A computerised management maintenance system (CMMS) is an excellent tool for tracking equipment maintenance, and can help gain visibility into energy-saving measures. A robust solution will also provide insight into an asset’s performance and energy efficiency. 

After installing energy conservation programs, facility managers must monitor and audit them regularly to ensure they achieve their goals. IoT can effectively monitor such platforms and automatically reset the equipment to set points.  

Consider retro-commissioning

Energy conservation was not a key concern when most existing facilities were constructed. Similarly, a majority of institutional and commercial buildings have not undergone a quality assurance program for their systems. The result is a facility consuming more energy to produce less.

Retro-commissioning is the systematic approach to improving a facility’s or a building’s performance. It uses a systems approach to identify operational improvements that will save energy and enhance occupant safety. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), average retro-commissioning projects can reduce energy use by 15 percent and save 0.27 US dollars per square foot. 

Conclusion

Developing and implementing a successful energy-saving strategy requires time. Facility managers must also monitor and audit the program to identify other areas of improvement and ensure it is effective. This will enable a facility to reduce energy consumption successfully. 

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.

 

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