26. April 2012 18:02
We've seen some pretty sophisticated technologies this week to improve energy efficiency. What are some of the basic steps an organization can take?
Mark Lambert is a 20 year veteran of energy management, and currently is in charge of supplying electricity, HVAC and water to 37 buildings at the University of Windsor, Canada. Here is his list of the basic elements of a strong energy management program.
1. First and foremost, top-down support from senior management is critical. In addition to university administrators, Mark shares information on energy performance with the Deans of each of the school's colleges. This promotes healthy intra-college competition for energy efficiency, and can raise challenges to the university's Board of Governors.
2. One person must be dedicated as a full time energy manager. This is a full time job, and too important to be "double hatted."
3. Training is critical, both for management to understand energy issues, and for the front line workers to understand the program fundamentals, their roles and responsibilities, and the impact of their efforts on the organization's success.
4. Energy management is not something owned by the energy manager, it is an organization-wide commitment to continuous improvement, and therefore must be embedded in all processes.
5. Create an interdisciplinary energy team, with decision makers from all the energy touch points – facilities, operations, finance and maintenance. Poor energy performance often comes from mis-aligned priorities, for example scheduling activities for convenience at a time where they will incur peak demand charges.
6. Recognize that this energy team cannot oversee all needed activities – the creation of sub-committees at the specialist level is essential, with people who have hands-on application experience.
7. Make sure the energy team has a vested interest in success. Energy performance metrics are part of the energy team's job description at the University of Windsor, and are linked to annual performance reviews and pay incentives. Another important dimension of this is recognizing their contributions, and communicating regularly so the entire organization sees the difference the energy management program provides.
8. Make sure you have the right support systems, including metering and an energy management system (EMS). Mark noted that many facilities do not have the right metering for their specific applications or environmental conditions. It's also important to have regular preventive maintenance programs in place. He has seen many facilities install meters and forget about them, yet continue to assume their accuracy.
The paradox of metering is that it can overwhelm energy managers with a flood of data. A good EMS distills this sea of data into a few "critical nuggets" of information that can identify poor performance early, improve decision making, quantify success, and help set utility budgets.
Mark closed by underscoring the importance of starting small and building on successes – energy management is a process that takes time, and you need to demonstrate the value you are adding to the organization at every step.
Reported by Phil Lewin