The digitisation and subsequent monitoring of your portfolio should be the foundational element of your net zero roadmap. Data provides a benchmark to measure all future initiatives and will identify the biggest opportunity areas to improve sustainability performance.
Energy drift occurs for various reasons, including mechanical wear and tear, malfunctioning equipment, alterations or overrides to Building Management System controls, changing site conditions, or building design defects. Buildings can lose as much as 10-30% in energy efficiency and costs, every one to two years, only to ‘drifts’.
Before committing to any capital investments, it is financially prudent to ensure that all the existing systems work at their highest efficiency. This is achieved by proactively fixing all system issues and then monitoring the system closely to ensure there is no drift in energy due to system, plant and equipment inefficiencies.
Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) use more than 60% of a building’s total energy consumption and up to a third of that energy is often wasted due to HVAC malfunction, performance degradation and improperly tuned controls. When you consider that virtually all large buildings have HVAC operational issues, these statistics are hard to ignore.
Monitoring and optimising equipment can be hugely beneficial, but there will always be instances where equipment will need to be upgraded or replaced. With many upgrades, any commercial property can significantly reduce their energy consumption and environmental impact without a full renovation, even in older buildings.
If performed correctly steps 1 and 2 can generate significant cost savings which can be utilised to upgrade existing equipment. Electrification is one of the most important factors in decarbonizing buildings but also one of the most expensive. Any equipment that consumes fossil fuels such as furnaces, boilers and water heaters will need to be replaced.
Renewals can be utilised in 2 ways - onsite and offsite. Onsite electricity generation is only really cost effective, if your property has a large surface area like a shopping centre or airport. The goal of a transition towards building electrification: all-electric buildings powered by solar, wind and other sources of zero-carbon electricity. Renewables can be utilised offsite through your utility providers.
This is considered an emissions reduction strategy. However, it shouldn’t form a large proportion of an overall sustainability strategy, as offsetting is increasingly being seen as an act of greenwashing. The cost of offsets will also continue to climb.