Intelligent property management – saving money and the environment
The question of how to reduce the environmental impact of buildings is more relevant than ever. SARI MATTILA from AusIndustry says measurement and monitoring technologies, such as those from EP&T Global developed with Federal Government tax concessions, are helping facility managers to minimise energy and water wastage.
The Australian company EP&T Global has spent more than 15 years researching and developing innovative systems to measure and manage resource use in buildings and offers a combination of technologies and services to clients in the property trust, government and retail sectors.
“We assist businesses by providing energy and water management solutions that save money, help them meet their environmental targets and create a more sustainable future,” says company founder and CEO, Keith Gunaratne.
Based in Sydney, the EP&T Global team employs 40 engineers covering the electrical, electronics, software, mechanical, mechatronics, automation, environmental, process and chemical fields, as well as professional business and finance managers.
One of the popular services provided by EP&T is building ratings under the National Australian Built Environment Rating Scheme (NABERS).
“Our accredited assessors have extensive experience in delivering building ratings and can deliver all NABERS office rating types,” says Gunaratne.
NABERS is a performance-based rating system administered by the Department of Environment and Climate Change, which measures an existing building’s overall environmental performance during operation.
“We currently undertake about 40 percent of NABERS office energy ratings nationwide,” says Gunaratne.
Systems developed by EP&T include hardware, firmware and software to provide end-to-end energy, water, waste and renewable energy solutions for property owners.
One of the systems, the EDGE Intelligent system, is an intelligent electricity, gas, water and waste sub-metering, monitoring, billing and reporting system. The system can measure a variety of electrical parameters, as well as gas and water consumption, and waste creation.
Gunaratne says these systems can help to deliver significant reductions in utility consumption and costs. They can be installed without significant interference to existing electrical infrastructure and expanded efficiently as the business expands. The systems can provide a detailed understanding of where and when electricity, gas and water are being consumed throughout the building and how much it is costing.
“We combine this accurate live data (from the EDGE Intelligent system) with the powerful algorithms and intelligence we have built up over the years,” he explains.
“Without the EP&T system, an engineer could spend more than 150 hours a month to accurately understand how utilities are used in a large building.
“Using our system, it only takes an engineer five hours a month to do the same work. As a result, our clients can be much more efficient and effective in working out how to reduce energy and water use and minimise waste in their building.”
With equipment installed at over 500 sites across Australia, in the past year, EP&T Global has saved its customers more than $10 million in electricity, gas and water costs.
“At the same time, we’ve also reduced our customers’ greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60,000 tonnes and saved 500 million litres of water,” notes Gunaratne.
The EDGE Intelligent system uploads the site data remotely via ADSL from each site for electricity, water and gas (waste optional). Then it analyses and identifies operational and control strategy anomalies that require investigation to further reduce energy consumption, which is then reported back to the customer via monthly reports.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
EP&T Global has designed and manufactured products in Australia at competitive prices and the company is committed to keeping its R&D and manufacturing operations in Australia while developing an export market for EP&T’s products.
Gunaratne says the Federal Government’s R&D tax concession has helped the company grow since it launched in 1993.
“When we started out it was just two people, and receiving the concession helped us employ a third and then a fourth person. Every dollar in the concession is very valuable when you’re small. It’s practical and easy to manage. There’s hardly any red tape and that means it’s not costly to administer,” says Gunaratne.
He adds that one of the most satisfying parts of developing the company has been seeing his technology become widely accepted in the market.
“It started when one of Australia’s major commercial property owners adopted our technology. They saved so much money that now most of Australia’s major owners use our system,” he says.
“Now in the Australian property sector we’ve seen a real market transformation. Owners are making big savings on their utilities by cutting their operating costs. EP&T is now expanding internationally.”
Recognition for the company’s clients’ environmental achievements has been received through a number of Australian awards such as the Banksia, Green Globe, the Facilities Managers Association Environmental Achievement and the Commonwealth Energy and Environment awards.
Gunaratne says one of his customers was named number one on the Dow Jones World Sustainability Index in 2007. The index tracks the financial performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide.
“We saved money for businesses, we created jobs and we helped mitigate climate change for our children and grandchildren. We need to make sure we don’t pass the tipping point on climate change.”