Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) Frequently Asked Questions

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Courtesy of Courtesy of ENER-G

The Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) sector is growing as organisations realise that BEMS are one of the most effective solutions for optimising efficiency in a building - providing the quick win that organisations are seeking.

Energy managers and building owners might have previously installed systems in larger buildings, but new generation technologies, such as E-MAGINE mean they can cost effectively extend the savings to smaller buildings.

1  What are the benefits of Building Energy Management Systems?

Greater energy efficiency and cost reduction is the main driver, but modern new systems also have the dual benefit of acting as an automatic monitoring and targeting system, monitoring, measuring and analysing consumption to assist with carbon reporting and managing efficiency.  This enables users to collate, analyse and transform this data into meaningful information, allowing them to  monitor energy consumption, identify waste,  highlight areas for improvement and benchmark consumption against other similar buildings or organisations.

Automatic monitoring and targeting is particularly useful in monitoring multiple sites, enabling managers to gain both detailed analysis and a big picture overview of energy consumption across the business, whilst drilling down into specific locations.

The reporting capabilities of some BEMS is necessary to meet increasing environmental legislation, such as the CRC energy efficiency scheme.

2  How much energy can a BMS or a BEMS save?

The best systems will typically reduce consumption by 25% to deliver rapid payback on investment and reduce taxes on carbon emissions. Return on investment for our E-MAGINE system can be achieved within 12 to 60 months.

Organisations can gain an indication of the energy savings from installing a BEMS by using an Energy Savings Calculator

3.  What are energy performance contracts?

The increased drive to energy efficiency coupled with a reluctance by organisations to make any capital expenditure has prompted innovative financial models to increase access to new technologies. ENER-G's Guaranteed Savings Contract is an energy performance contract scheme that provides the option of procuring energy controls technology on a ‘pay-as-you-save’ basis.  Organisations can then benefit from immediate energy savings - without any capital investment or installation and commissioning costs. As part of the energy performance contract, energy and operational cost savings offset the investment.

Under ENER-G's savings scheme, organisations start paying for the technology when they start saving, so an agreed rental cost is recovered from the energy and operational cost savings.  Following the an initial site survey, ENER-G prepares a proposal detailing the recommended controls strategy, together with the projected carbon dioxide and cost savings and payment options.  Minimum savings are guaranteed, so there is no financial risk to the customer. If the BEMS installation fails to deliver the expected savings, ENER-G  finances the deficit.

Customers can use 24/7 monitoring technology to see the real-time energy savings and identify further opportunities to optimise energy.

4. What is the difference between Building Management Systems (BMS) and Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS)?

The two acronyms tend to be misused to describe the same thing, however BMS (Building Management System) provide a computer-based system which seeks to integrate a comprehensive range of building services. These services can integrate building controls and monitoring, covering such systems as mechanical and electrical equipment, HVAC, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems.

BEMS (Building Energy Management System) are generally designed to provide a totally integrated computerised control and monitoring systems of energy related plant and equipment such as HVAC and lighting, but would not normally provide for the integration of  systems such as fire and security as these are not considered to be energy related systems.

5.  How important is regular maintenance of a BEMS?

Critical parts of the BEMS hardware and software can deteriorate without regular servicing or maintenance. For example, temperature sensors can deteriorate and fall outside their calibration accuracy or simply become broken or damaged; control dampers and valves can fail to function correctly due to age or wear. The other most common problems occur with temperature dead bands and free cooling options. In addition, control software can become out of date.  Ultimately, failure to address problems means that the BEMS system no longer serves the intended purpose and is relegated to serving as a glorified time clock to start/stop the energy systems - thus failing to deliver the original intention of energy, CO2 and cost savings.

In developing its newly launched E-MAGINE Building Energy Management System, ENER-G Controls has minimised the requirement for extensive servicing and maintenance by creating a tamper proof system that avoids the problems caused by 'twitchy finger' syndrome, where various users adjust the settings and gradually erode the energy efficiency benefits.  E-MAGINE’s tamper proof controls minimise the impact of any changes made - by restoring optimal settings. This ensures that the system achieves peak optimised savings and performance throughout its lifetime, while delivering maximum levels of comfort and flexibility throughout the property.

In addition, hardware and software deterioration can be monitored via E-MAGINE’s online diagnostic tools. This will quickly identify system malfunctions and automatically refine control strategies to restore optimum operation.

6.  How can energy controls systems improve energy efficiency of boilers?

Many organisations are wasting energy through inefficient boilers. This is because typical boilers will often fire up and consume energy when it is not necessary to do so - instead of using the residual heat that is already available within the system. This is known as 'dry-cycling' and can add more than 30% to the cost of an organisation's heating bill.

Building Energy Management Systems include boiler optimiser controls to ensure that the boiler is demand driven and only operates when required, and only at the temperature required to satisfy demand. This reduces energy consumption and avoids unnecessary wear of the equipment. 

7.  What new BEMS technology is available?

The new E-MAGINE BEMS system from ENER-G Controls is a new generation technology that is making BEMS affordable and scalable across the entire building estate.

E-MAGINE software  is pre-programmed to a customer's specification prior to installation and is cloud-based so can be monitored and adjusted remotely.  As such,  the cost of installing, commissioning, maintaining and upgrading the system is much lower and it is affordable even in small buildings.

E-MAGINE is suitable for a broad range of applications – from primary energy sources, such as boilers, chillers, cooling towers, dehumidification systems and warm air heaters, through to secondary systems, such as HVAC, fan coils, domestic hot water and air filtration systems.

A key component of E-MAGINE is its integrated front-end management tool, E-VISION. This cloud- based online dashboard meets  the needs of users to control their building’s system remotely, while analysing and managing energy use via a powerful automatic monitoring and targeting ( aM&T) app.  This enables users to monitor consumption across a range of sites and to  drill down and monitor performance of plant, to highlight inefficiencies and opportunities to increase energy savings and generate reports. Alarm features are built into the system to provide text, email or audible alerts should any element of the plant fail or operate sub optimally.

As E-VISION is accessed through a standard internet browser, there is no need to install specialist software and users can log into the system from any location 24/7. 

The user-friendly E-VISION module provides environmental compliance data and can be adapted to provide live energy data - presented using attractive graphics - for public display. 

Although E-MAGINE is a complete, integrated BEMS solution, it will  also interface with a building’s existing third party control systems

Further information: www.energ.co.uk/controls

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