These days energy has become a subject of great importance all over the world. The ways in which we use it and how much of it is wasted are only a couple of points in a larger matter that just cannot be ignored. This is why many industries nowadays address this issue by various means. One of those is Energy Management.
Out of many types of infrastructure, buildings represent those in which we can find the greatest potential for saving energy. This is what energy efficiency is actually about.
Energy Efficiency, simply put, means to use less energy to achieve either the same or a larger output.
This is done by employing practices or acquiring certain products according to the process we’re trying to improve. It can be as simple as replacing obsolete lighting with one more efficient. These are the type of products that help save energy in a building. Another example could be the installation of sensors that make the lights go off while a room is unoccupied. Just as well, there are some other favorable practices.
Energy efficiency is not the same as energy conservation.[i] Energy conservation means to reduce or go without a service in order to save energy. Equally effective, an excellent practice to save electric energy is when people are firmly used to turning the lights off themselves.
Firstly analyze the process
Of course, the first step of an Energy Management program is to understand how energy is provided and used. Analyzing the process helps to provide an idea of the things that can be improved.[ii] Energy efficiency can actually be increased at any stage of the energy chain from its generation to the final consumption.
It’s the job of those who examine this process to decide which practice or product is best for the building. At this stage, the experts on the matter are those we should seek. After grasping how the means of the use of energy works in a certain building, comes the assessing of equipment and its proper installation.
Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that the focus of an energy efficiency program should be the people inside the building rather than the building itself.[iii] When we are talking about the elements that make a building comfortable, such as lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, the priority is to whom these benefit. They should be efficient and, above all, in the service of the people who use them. For instance, when a building is over-conditioned, not only is energy wasted, but comfort is sacrificed. One of the possible ways to resolve this could be to make adjustments in air conditioning to get a satisfactory temperature. This would also help to save energy.
Energy works in our advantage
On the other hand, the role that the buildings’ occupants play is absolutely crucial when it comes to the continuity of a program. Educating employees on the importance of energy efficiency represents one of the key ways to achieve it. Without disciplined approach and continued vigilance, employees may begin forgetting the practices.[iv] The goal should be to make it a habit and, even further, an energy saving culture throughout the company. It’s crucial to keep in mind that energy works in our advantage, but we are the ones who make it work and we should do so in the best possible way.
In the same manner, everyone should be able and encouraged to submit energy saving ideas. After all, the users are the ones who experience the conditions of the building the most. This is a way of updating information and this can be used to create a database which can be analyzed in order to gain a better understanding.
An energy management plan should be a continuous process. Even more than that, it must be constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of the building, the people and energy efficiency.