Building & Energy Management System (BeMS)

As we return from the festive break, refreshed and full of ideas for the new calendar year did Building & Energy Management (BeMS) optimization feature on your list of priorities in terms of ways to save energy.

How your building operates through supplying comfort levels for staff, ventilation for covid, boiler performance, air handling units (AHU) setpoints, frost, and material protections all of which are managed through your BeMS, so would you say that BeMS management is now higher up the list of priorities?

When we think about energy consumption, plant rooms can account for up to 20% of the total consumption of the site. Plant equipment can be oversized, pumps without variable speed drives, boilers, and AHU running 24/7 all unknown to the management teams.

The BeMS platform is designed to take away the headache of managing some of these processes manually. Although BeMS platforms are not perfect by any means. They are still set up, programmed, and maintained typically by M&E consultants with performance outweighing energy efficiency in some cases.

So how can we save energy?

In my opinion, regular reviews of the BeMS is critical thinking about the following points:

  • Are the setpoints and timings still relevant from when they were the last set?
  • Has the business model changed?
  • Are we still providing ventilation to all areas 24/7 for covid purposes?
  • Are we facilitating more home working, yet the BeMS is managing the site as though we are at full occupancy?
  • Does your BeMS allow you to separate floor from floor or is it either on or off the only control available to your organisation?
  • Can we move staff around to a single floor of hot desks to prevent single or limited personnel on large open plan floors where lighting and heating is provided on mass?
  • Have we checked that the BeMS localised controls are all on “Auto”?
  • What about seasonal changes, with spring on the horizon moving into summer and autumn, what strategies do we have to change set points to reflect this?
  • Have you had an independent review of your BeMS to check for overlapping programs that may be preventing the plant from shutting down?
  • Are your team fully training on your BeMS platform to perform these tasks or reliant on your M&E consultant to make sure this is being run with efficiency in mind?

The above list is just the starting point when it comes to BeMS reviews, however, substantial savings can be achieved through an independent review.

There have been many occasions where I have reviewed a BeMS platform only to find that it is not performing as the screen suggests. Building managers confirming that the plant equipment is only coming on between the hours of 7 am and 6 pm although when reviewing the half-hourly (HH) data we can see that this is not the case. A further investigation following the review of the HH data often finds an anomaly with the historical programming or continual manipulation of the system through time.

How long have the BeMS been over-ridden by an old rule and how much has this cost your organisation?

We speak about BeMS and Automatic monitoring and targeting (AM&T) working collectively, and the example above is something that an AM&T platform can pick up. Should a BeMS sensor fail, or temperature seems to be on the high side, wireless AM&T systems can have their place. The main benefit of AM&T other than just visual representation of the site is fast reaction times. Should the BeMS or data start to fall out with standard parameters then the AM&T platform would pick this up almost immediately ensuring that waste is limited. Would the BeMS also do this to reduce the need to have two systems? This is up for debate.

At DB Group we offer a service to review your BeMS as part of a fuller survey based on energy efficiency. This is not a technical survey but will highlight ways that you can be more efficient from the building envelope through to the operation, renewables, and load-based solutions. We do not survey your site to show your weaknesses. Our survey is to highlight all the positive features you have already implemented and how we can strengthen them to get the best from the equipment that you already have. This survey will help with your strategy towards Net Zero and highlight opportunities towards your greener future.