South Africa remains locked into an energy crisis – there is not enough power to run the country and there are delays in building new power stations. This is going to impact business and manufacturing, and is likely to lead to investment losses. Businesses response – investing in generators – is shortsighted; implementing a building management system (BMS) is a better long-term solution, especially as the benefits of big data and smart grids start to emerge.
Buildings account for 40% of the world’s energy use. Employees working in these facilities are rarely incentivised to manage energy use so putting in the technology to automate systems, manage use and drive down costs makes great sense. There are fast wins: most buildings could shave 30% off their energy usage in the first month. But the benefits could be amplified with more complex strategies.
If facility owners or lessees did more than integrate systems related to environmental control, typically heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, they could penetrate the next level of opportunity, achieving not just greater control, but greater operational efficiencies.
With every piece of equipment within an organisation, in addition to a multitude of devices and sensors, injecting status reports and event-driven data streams into the cloud, there is incredible opportunity to harness data to operate smarter, optimising processes and facility systems according to key performance data and need. Indeed, some BMS providers with global reach are creating platforms where clients can compare their facility’s performance to that of peers, and industry benchmarks, and receive automated alerts when performance flags.
In terms of smart grid benefits, many facilities, especially in the manufacturing sector will become producer-consumers of energy, contributing to and drawing energy from a grid that is very different from the one we know today. A BMS will help organisations keep track of usage and contributions, as energy consumption becomes an increasingly strategic component of profitability.
Like any long-term strategy, implementing a BMS and fully leveraging its functionality takes vision. A BMS will benefit the business but it is also good for the environment. While purely functional or bottom line wins may motivate implementation of a BMS, energy conservation and smart management of scarce resources will also benefit the environment, driving benefits in terms of business sustainability. What this takes to achieve is an understanding of the possibilities, a bit of vision, a business case and action. Don’t just change the light bulbs, change the fundamentals.
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