In light of the recent advice from the Government given to organisations across the UK, we are starting to see a number of businesses slowly reopen to both their workforce and the public.
The process of re-opening commercial buildings and estates will come with its own challenges for energy professionals in ensuring it is done safely and smoothly, while continuing to strive for energy optimisation.
To help you reopen your energy estate efficiently, our Energy Consultant, Giles Davies, has compiled a list of key points to consider, including using this time as an opportunity to establish a new energy management strategy to meet your changing operational needs.
- As heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems might have been turned off for a few months, it is important to visit the boiler and plant rooms to ensure the equipment is in a good state of repair. For example, check there are no alarm indicators showing, that local thermostats are working correctly and there are no leaks or leakage stains showing on the walls or floor.
- If your HVAC systems’ annual maintenance checks have lapsed during the lockdown, look to get the servicing carried out at the earliest opportunity. This will ensure all your equipment is running at optimum levels and that filters and belts are replaced in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.
- If your organisation has new operating times to safeguard your workforce, ensure the heating, lighting and BMS timer controls reflect the new schedule.
- With summer just around the corner, check that systems are set to summer mode, and ensure there are heating and cooling dead bands in place. It is advised cooling should only be implemented when the internal temperature exceeds 24°C, this therefore provides a 3-4°C “dead band”, when neither cooling or heating should be required in the building and still be a comfortable temperature for employees. This ensures that there is no chance of both cooling and heating systems operating simultaneously.
- It is important to check that your Passive Infrared System (PIR) sensors on your lighting are working correctly. Confirm that the systems are programmed to turn off when no movement is detected, and when a room has reached a pre-set lumen level from natural light.
- Take the opportunity to analyse half-hourly data reports to identify any spikes in energy usage during the lockdown period. You may discover some errors in your equipment, for example if they are turning on when they are not meant to. It is important to identify what this equipment is and if it should be running during those hours.
- If there have been any changes to your building’s opening and closing times, ensure that staff are familiar with what can be turned off at the end of the day. For example, it may be a good idea to have an “Energy Champion” on shifts to ensure non-essential equipment is turned off at the end of the day and air conditioning is only running when required.
- We would recommend using this time to email staff upon their return, to remind them of any energy policies that your organisation may have in place or changes you have made.
- To safeguard your workforce, some buildings might be using separate entrances and exits which would not usually be in use. Ensure these doors are not propped open so that the air conditioning runs correctly.
- Finally, due to the lockdown period, it may be that your building’s energy usage is lower than usual. This can provide you with an opportunity to revisit your energy management strategy to adapt it for your organisation’s ‘new normal’ operations. Take a look at our blog ‘Energy Management: Where to begin’ for some top tips on the best way to start your planning.
If you would like advice on managing your business’ energy efficiency our expert energy consultants offer a range of services to help, contact us today, or call on 01908 690018.