Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  11 Jan 2012

GREEN: Intelligent Buildings for Tomorrow's Energy Challenges


Recent Gauteng Business News

In today's energy-sensitive world, it comes as no surprise that good common sense with intelligent buildings can do a great deal in making a difference. Buildings and the various cogs and chains that run it are no different, says Neil Cameron, GM at Johnson Controls Building Efficiency: Systems and Service: Africa.

Energy efficiency does not enjoy the needed priority when designing a building. "The systems within buildings are mostly designed to meet maximum duties to cater for 'worst case scenario'. However, these maximum duty cycles will unlikely ever be required as 50 percent is a typical average duty of any building."

"Indeed, matching system delivery to the demand of a building and its occupants has the potential to be the greatest saver of running costs today and as result reduce both energy and carbon emissions," he explains.

Intelligent Buildings Can Make a Huge Difference

Irrespective of your industry, designing a building with demand in mind can make a tremendous difference in driving down power consumption and costs and pave the way for a future which designs buildings intelligently from the ground up.

Taking a closer look at some of the more technical aspects of buildings and where one can save costs, it is surprising how a little can go a long way. Ensure, for one that you partner with a supplier that builds energy-efficiency into its equipment. "Opting for energy-efficient equipment is an immediate solution to companies' power consumption woes.

"The reality is that renewable energy and strategies such as limiting the amount of carbon emissions organisations are allowed to produce will only start making noteworthy inroads by 2025. However, with energy efficient-equipment we can start making a difference sooner rather than later," comments Cameron.

For example, most large buildings, mines and the like feature intensive cooling systems. These systems in turn feature chillers. "Chillers are a great opportunity to drive down consumption as air conditioning typically consumes around 40 percent of a building's total energy usage.

"In Johannesburg, cooling systems use the 28 degrees benchmark to establish appropriate settings. This is much higher than the average temperature in Johannesburg which is closer to 17 degrees. Therefore, by ensuring that the system runs closer to 20 than 30 degrees can make an enormous difference in the power consumed to cool down, for example, a large office block," he says.

Organisations can also incorporate chiller technology such as variable speed drive chillers. The chillers' motor speed can be aligned with the needs of the building and typically saves 30 percent energy.

Cameron explains: "Variable speed drive chillers provide organisations with the flexibility to proactively drive down cooling consumption. However, it should be noted that many manufacturers do not offer this technology on their chillers which why thorough research beforehand is key."

The Capabilities of Intelligent Buildings

Ice thermal storage systems are another excellent method of saving costs.

Essentially, these systems take advantage of the low-cost, off-peak electrical rates to produce cooling energy for use when the rates are higher. An ice thermal storage system is used to charge thermal energy storage tanks with ice during less expensive off-peak hours at night. The ice is stored in storage tanks and then used the next day during the discharge cycle to cool mines and large premises during on-peak hours when electricity is more expensive.

By designing a building with equipment such as the above in mind, organisations can start making inroads immediately. "Over a period of 40 years it is estimated that only 11 percent of the total cost of a facility goes into the initial construction of the building; 14 percent into financing; 25 percent into operations and 50 percent into operational expenditure.

"What this therefore means is if one invests more in designing an energy efficient building from the start, costs will be reduced in the short and long term. An intelligent building or energy-efficient building will not only make an immediate impact but continue to drive down costs and importantly power consumption over a significant amount of years," concludes Cameron.

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