How to Save Energy - When doing nothing is not an option

Doing nothing is one sure way to save energy !
This frog is as green as can be
Do Nothing ! - because when we do anything we use energy. 

It's one way to save energy, but chances are that is not the answer you are looking for. 

Certainly when people do ask us how to save energy we find that doing nothing is simply not an option.

I suppose if it were life would be far too easy :)

So to get our job done, we must make sure our clients are:  using as little as possible to do no more than absolutely necessary. And that is as good a definition of energy management as you can find.  So lets flag it up !
Energy Management Defined :
Using as little as possible to do no more than absolutely necessary.
All very well, but we need to put some flesh on the bones. In order to make things a little more real we need to look at the role of energy management. Notice that this means everyone - we all have responsibility and we should all remember it. 

Energy managers, have a key and growing role, particularly because of climate change, and economic conditions insisting we should look after the bottom-line (or household budget).

There are many tools available to assist in the greening of our society, and clean-tech and green-tech investors are certainly always looking for new and better gadgets to part us with our money to save energy. This is simply because there are huge investment opportunities. However, when it comes to buildings there are a few important ideas that aren't going to go away soon. And they should be addressed first.

So "yes" - we need to know the best ways to " green it " - and one answer is green IT, where new tools are coming into existence that can really help, but first we have to ask where is the pain point. What is it that we have to address? - If we don't focus on a problem we'll get nowhere.

Fortunately, as a first approximation to finding energy savings we can "follow the money". If we consider how buildings come into being there is a five-step process.
Five Steps to Building - a disaster :

  1. Architect  - specifies conceptual vision
  2. Building contractor - builds something that looks like it
  3. Commissioning engineers  - make it work somehow
  4. Developer sells to purchaser
  5. Energy efficiency - does not match conceptual vision
There is no secret to the fact that a lot of money flows up and down between the first four steps - and some of it is free of any hint of corruption (he wrote with tongue in cheek).

What is left is a problem - in that the actual operation of the building does not correspond to the theoretical specification (which may have won design awards, and all sorts of feel-good eco-labels in the process - Notice that eco-labelling is drawn to the money like moths to a gas-light). 

But - That is not the problem - it's the problem that the money wants you to solve ! It argues that you need to spend more getting the first four steps right. 

Follow the money !
How does it do this ?

It uses comparative benchmarking. 

One thing about comparative benchmarking is that there is always a "best of class" - allowing some industry awards dinners, and there is always a "worst of class" - justifying spending much more.

So - What is the question we should be asking ?

If we put aside the question for the moment of what the building was meant to do - which is spilt milk - we can ask a much better question.  What is it doing and what does it need to do?  That question takes us back to our original question:
Are we using as little as possible to do no more than absolutely necessary?
When you are in a hole - rule #1 "STOP DIGGING"

Notice that this question absolutely ignores how we got into the mess we are in.

But the first rule of getting out of a mess is to stop ...

So - this is how we can wrap this post up for another occasion... 

First Do Nothing ! - It won't cost much  - So we can use the time to...

  1. Take stock of the situation as it is
  2. Look at what is really necessary (not what the architect thought ten years ago)
  3. Formulate plans to move from doing what we are doing, to doing what needs to be done and then we can make sure we are doing what needs to be done for as little as possible.
  4. et voilĂ  - Energy Management
Naturally some of the detail is technical - but first we need to ask Do you love your children ? 

If you enjoyed the article please give it a nudge to pay it forwards at the bottom of the page ...

PS - Are you aware that you can get free heating and cooling degree-day data for anywhere in the world from us ?