Shell scheme brings savings

7 min read

Energy efficiency policies needn’t be limited to the shopfloor processes – the outer fabric of factories can play a huge part in energy costs, too, as Chris Rowlands reports

"Managing directors and finance directors who ignore the issue of energy are simply failing in their duties," says Vince Wells. Wells is managing director of Energys, a consultancy that works with businesses to implement energy management programmes. "To achieve its aims in any organisation, an energy efficiency drive needs one or more champions - someone with the authority to set the objectives and drive their achievement," he adds. "That championship really has to come from boardroom level. Moreover, if many finance directors took the trouble to assess the bottom-line impact of energy efficiency, they would realise just what they are losing by not promoting it." There are so many routes to energy efficiency that it can be difficult to know where to start. Every area from the back office to the factory floor has processes that consume energy. But one part of the business should be receiving more attention, an area that is now moving into the spotlight thanks to new legislation on energy efficiency - the building itself. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EBPD) has, for the UK, given us building regulations known as Part L. "The EPBD is aimed at improving the energy performance of all buildings, including commercial and residential," says Eluned Watson of law firm Pinsent Masons. The changes came into force on 6 April last year and require new buildings (domestic and commercial) to meet minimum carbon dioxide emission rates set by the Secretary of State. It also means that existing large buildings which are undergoing major renovation should be upgraded to meet the new minimum energy performance standards, but only insofar as is 'technically, functionally and economically feasible'. Further to this, the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 were laid before parliament in March and once implemented - expected by January 2009 at the latest - then Energy Performance Certificates will be required on the sale, construction and leasing of all buildings, Watson says, subject to only limited exceptions. These certificates will set out an energy rating for a building on a scale of A to G, similar to energy labels required for domestic appliances, as well as information on a building's carbon dioxide emissions and advice on energy efficiency measures that can be put in place to reduce energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions. Valuable result The huge rewards from stemming energy waste from factories are reflected in both operational productivity and commercial property values, says Paul O'Brien, managing director of environmental power specialist Ener.G Efficiency. "The cost savings of 'green buildings' and their environmental benefits are well understood, but with fresh requirements under the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, commercial properties that are inefficient energy performers are likely to command a lower market value." O'Brien adds: "Energy-saving measures for commercial and industrial buildings rack up substantial, swift and easily implemented cost benefits, making a business more productive and profitable, while adding to its assets by maximising the value of the property." Other than the building construction, other opportunities exist to save energy outside of the production process. Evaporative cooling is an alternative to refrigeration-based air conditioning and can be used as part of a balanced ventilation system to cool buildings. EcoCooling's units have been designed for the cooling of industrial and commercial buildings and can give 35KW of cooling for every 1KW of electricity consumed. This means that a typical EcoCooler, rated at 30KW, can reduce electricity costs by over £2,000 and save 10 tonnes of carbon over a year compared to equivalent refrigeration-based systems. These savings mean that most EcoCooler installations in SMEs can qualify for an interest-free Carbon Trust loan. Also on the subject of heating and/or cooling, destratification is essentially the movement of existing hot air from ceiling height to floor level. This is seen as a cost-effective alternative to traditional ceiling fans or re-engineering existing HVAC systems. In high buildings, temperatures at roof or ceiling height can easily reach 35¡C while temperatures on the floor can struggle to reach acceptable levels. Airius Systems makes thermal destratification ceiling fans and it says these typically reduce heating costs by 20-50%. Air is moved in a column from one area to another without the need for ducting. Again, these can qualify for Carbon Trust interest-free loans. Elsewhere, there is Econet from FlŠktWoods. Having evaluated the total lifecycle cost of an HVAC system, FlŠktWoods saw that the energy costs for running this type of system account for 85-90% of the total lifetime cost, dwarfing that of installation. Hence it designed Econet, an energy recovery system, which it claims is 70-75% more efficient than plate heat exchangers and which reduces total life costs by 40%. Anyone who is a fan of the television programme Grand Designs will appreciate the lengths that some people go to maximise the light into their buildings. One manufacturer, Gateshead-based Sevcon, faced a similar challenge. Sevcon makes motor controllers and system components for battery-powered vehicles - from golf carts through forklift trucks to 40-tonne machines. As Sevcon's operations grew it became necessary to amalgamate a central courtyard area into its office facility. While this gave the extra space needed, it resulted in a 32m-long room, with windows at one end only. This meant that lights had to remain switched on, which made for an environmentally unfriendly and expensive-to-run working environment. Low-energy lighting was initially assessed as a solution. However, it soon became apparent that this would not significantly reduce energy usage. Extra fittings would be needed and they would be used all the time because on sunny days, the people that worked near the windows closed the blinds. So the company installed 14 tubular skylights - the 530mm diameter Solatube. The idea is simple - use daylight rather than electricity. The way it works is that a clear dome on the roof collects natural light, which is channelled down through super-reflective tubing directly to where it is needed in the room below, where it is either impractical or undesirable to have windows. Solatube's tubular skylights are simple to install and more effective in cost and performance than a conventional skylight. No structural changes are required, so installation usually takes just a few hours, and the product costs from as little as £200. Carl Scarth of Sevcon's industrial engineering maintenance department says: "I looked at other tubular skylights and, while prices are similar, performance certainly isn't. The way Solatubes transfer light from roof to room is so much more effective than other products." Lighting controls are another area to focus on: a number of companies in this field including Setsquare, low-energy luminaire supplier Chalmor and voltage reducer supplier Watt Solutions are all appearing at The Energy Event 07 in September (www.thenergyevent.co.uk). The exhibition is aimed at senior managers and directors - those who should take control of energy costs. But for strategic-level decision makers, focusing on heating, cooling and lighting may seem too detailed. Let's look at the bigger picture - the whole building itself. First to older buildings. JCB has unveiled plans for its new academy that would enable young people from across Staffordshire and Derbyshire to pursue careers in engineering and manufacturing. Costing around £20 million, the academy will be located in the Grade II-listed Tutbury Mill following a refurbishment and the creation of an impressive extension that would use modern technologies to make the whole site environmentally sustainable. It may seem difficult to believe that JCB is diversifying into education, but yes, JCB is to offer diplomas in engineering, manufacturing and international business in what is said to be the UK's first fully sustainable school building. This will involve taking a number of innovative steps to create power, conserve heat and reduce waste. Proposals include reviving the mill's water race and installation of a modern water turbine to create energy; recycling waste timber packaging from JCB factories by turning it into biomass chips to provide heating; and collecting rainwater to flush toilets and using solar panels to heat water. From old to new - what of new portable or modular buildings? David Shaw of Portakabin says: "On product development, our Ultima building is an excellent example of an energy-efficient structure and tests conducted by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) have proven that it exceeds the Building Regulations Part L air permeability requirements by 70%." These tests measure the amount of air lost through the fabric of the building to ensure that end users aren't paying to heat air that subsequently escapes from the building. Emissions After an 18-month R&D programme, Portakabin has also introduced software to provide an assessment of annual carbon emissions, heating and cooling costs per square metre, whole life costing, energy audits, as well as generating valuable data, such as the air quality of each room in a building. It will also provide a framework for the energy certification process, once the legislation is in place. All new Portakabin buildings now go through a detailed analysis at the earliest stage of the design process, to produce the most sustainable solution for each building project, using fast and efficient building simulation analysis. Shaw adds: "We have invested significant resources and time in training our team to implement this software and ensure that our customers will have both an energy-efficient and cost-effective building, as well as having the peace of mind that it's a Portakabin building that meets all the necessary legislative requirements." And of course new buildings will have to comply with Part L, too. Companies such as Royal & Sun Alliance Engineering, for example, offer advice and design services to help organisations to comply with the new regulations. Once built - or refurbished - how can the building's energy performance be assessed? Companies such as Munters offer building investigation services, including leak detection. Using infrared technology, it can detect building envelope leakage - seeing where the heat is escaping and the drafts are entering. The same technology can be used to find roof leaks, underground pipe leaks, or heat being generated from faulty electrics. Sometimes it pays to call in a third party to help. At its Wolverhampton brassware factory, American Standard has done just that. It has used advanced building controls technology from Ener.G Efficiency to reduce its heating bills by 40%. The site, incorporating a foundry, manufacturing, stores and office space spread across three buildings, has developed and changed over the years, and heating and hot water solutions have been added in a piecemeal fashion. For example, heating in the many manufacturing cells is provided by more than 40 direct-fired industrial warm air units, supplied by a range of different companies. "We realised that our mixed bag of independently controlled, heating equipment and systems was not the most energy efficient solution," says American Standard's works engineer Robin Theobold. Following a detailed audit of existing energy usage, Ener.G Efficiency tailored its intelligent control system to the heating plant - ensuring the correct space temperature at all times, incorporating automatic compensation for ambient weather conditions. Time scheduling of the entire system was introduced so that the heating need only operate when required. "A 40% saving on fuel costs in the first six months of operation speaks for itself," says Theobold. "We are delighted with this system - it has already more than paid for itself, and will continue to keep our fuel bills down in future years." A solution that proves the all-round benefits - saving money and saving the environment. As Energys's Vince Wells said at the start, none of us can afford to ignore the rewards of an energy-efficient building.