How to save energy during Covid-19

10 Tips to save energy in your buildings during “Lockdown Covid-19” [Interview]

As we all know, the crisis due to Covid-19 has posed different challenges in all sectors. In the case of the energy management sector, not only do they have the challenge of managing installations remotely, but they also have to reduce costs and save energy in buildings during the quarantine.

In this article, we give you the vision of the situation from 2 professionals in the sector, such as Nil Bufí and Galdric Ruiz. They will also give us a list of tips to achieve energy savings during these difficult times:

In order to have a true vision of the current situation, we made a short interview (that you will find below) to our professionals of Energy Management Nil Bufí – Energy Manager in DEXMA, and Galdric Ruiz – Energy Manager specialized in Behavior. 

You will discover many interesting things in their answers!

Interview

Question 1. Hi Galdric and Nil, for readers to know you better, tell us a little bit about yourselves and your roles at DEXMA.

Hello Cristina, we could say that we both work on two essential vectors within DEXMA. The first is to support partners with large projects to help reduce energy consumption of their customers. And the second, but not less important, is to give direct feedback to our development team to optimise the DEXMA platform as much as possible, but each from a different angle.

Galdric: We work as a team, but my specialty is the human factor. Meaning, trying to generate a dynamic in organisations so that energy management becomes a common ‘challenge’.

 

 

Nil: In my case, I understand machines better, so I try to optimise the operation of energy-consuming equipment inside a building.

 

 

Question 2. To place us into context, the current situation of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a large number of companies to close their offices, factories, stores, etc. on a temporary basis, how has this affected the consumption of these buildings?

As you know, our partners work with all types of clients (retail, offices, industry, public sector…) so it is not easy to generalize. It is true that these first weeks have allowed us to differentiate between two large groups:

  • Buildings with a total shutdown of their activity: In this scenario, we observe that the vast majority retains what we call base consumption or passive consumption. There is no variability between daytime, nighttime or weekend consumption, so the overall consumption curve becomes a long, sad straight line.

  • Buildings with a notable reduction in activity: On the other hand, these buildings maintain a certain consumption profile, generally increasing during the day and decreasing at night. However, this consumption profile no longer reaches the expected peak values in a normal situation, and actually this profile may become narrower due to reduced working/opening hours.

Question 3. In the case of DEXMA and in particular in yours, this has forced you to work from home.  What advantages and disadvantages have you found in order to carry out your usual work?

Fortunately, all departments at DEXMA are prepared to work remotely. In fact, many of us are used to doing it regularly. 

To support our Partners in the analysis, implementation and monitoring of specific ECM (Energy Conservation Measures) for the current situation, it is sufficient for us to have direct communication channels with them and with the maintenance managers who end up implementing the actions. 

Obviously I don’t think it is necessary to add that having a SaaS Energy Management Platform is essential to do our work optimally and efficiently.

However, a major inconvenience is that certain ECMs were planned to be executed during this period and they require work in the building itself. Thus, we will have to wait for the situation to improve.

Question 4. Is it possible to manage the energy of a building by working remotely and still save energy?

No doubt about it! As long as you have a SaaS energy management system like DEXMA.  

If you know well the facilities of a building and its management, right now from your own home (Stay at home!) you can analyse and compare its consumption curves, configure alerts, prioritise actions according to their return, etc. Obviously someone must be behind to execute these actions, either remotely (buildings with advanced control) or in-situ with the collaboration of maintenance staff.

Question 5. Could you give us a list of tools that are helping you to carry out your Energy Management work remotely? 

  • To work as a team sharing documents we use Google Drive, which allows us all to work in parallel on the same document or project.
  • To communicate with each other the fastest way is to use Slack, either by using written messages or by making video calls, although we never give up the classic phone call.
  • In order to communicate with the Partners, apart from emails, we organise frequent meetings using platforms such as Skype or Google Meet that help us to better transmit our savings proposals.

It should also be noted that 80% of our time is dedicated to the use of DEXMA Energy Management Platform, because we analyse everything that happens in the buildings and detect potential improvements there.

Question 6. It is clear that now all buildings with very low or almost no occupancy are already seeing savings in their energy consumption, but can further savings be made even without active use of the facilities?

That’s a good question, Cristina, and we’ve honestly found that in many cases it is possible. 

By taking advantage of this break in activity, we can go deeper into the passive consumption of the building that we mentioned before, since there is no distortion due to the use of the building. At this point we can add that, in many cases, maintenance staff has more time (the daily tasks have been reduced due to the lack of users/workers) to make a deep revision of the equipment that is working 24h. 

That way, certain loads that should not work continuously are identified and, at the same time, those that should work continuously can be optimised.

Question 7. What challenges are you facing during “Quarantine Covid-19” in managing energy consumption? 

At the moment the only challenge a little different from the ones we usually encounter, would be the management of the staff/workers who go to their job offices, either temporarily or for the whole day. 

It is quite complex to make both users and their managers understand that an optimisation of the workspace can save a lot of energy to the organisation. 

For example, these past weeks we managed to save more than 35% of consumption in an office building with more than 20 floors, which was occasionally used by workers for justified reasons. In this case, a message was simply sent from the company’s management to all the workers to indicate that only one floor was accessible for the necessary work. In this way, they avoided having employees spread out over different floors and turning lighting and air conditioning systems on to guarantee the comfort for one or two workers.

At this point, I would like to conclude the interview with a list of recommendations and advice from our Energy Management and Saving Experts Galdric Ruiz and Nil Bufí. So, below you will find 10 recommendations that will be of great help to you during quarantine and of course afterwards: 

10 Tips to save energy in your company’s buildings during “Lockdown COVID 19”

  1. Reorganise the workstation to optimise the spaces that are used.
  2. Reschedule the lighting and air conditioning schedules according to the new needs of each plant or work area.
  3. In the case of not having a BMS or control system, you should reprogram the possible digital clocks located in electrical panels and give instructions to adapt the schedule of possible lighting shutdown rounds.
  4. Avoid the outdoor advertising lighting from being switched on at night because there are no people in the streets.
  5. Adjust the temperatures of heat and cold production according to the current demand of the building.
  6. Take advantage of carrying out maintenance actions that improve the performance of equipment, such as cleaning the filters of air conditioning equipment.
  7. Gather all refrigerated products in a single point or cold room (the newest/efficient one) and disconnect the rest.
  8. Make sure that the extractors in the bathrooms that are not going to be used, are not turned on periodically.
  9. It is time to check all those old fluorescents that do not work properly, either because the light generated is not adequate, because there is an intermittent flicker, or because dark spots are formed at the ends.
  10. Use your energy management software to give feedback on the results obtained through weekly reports in order to motivate the whole team involved in the project.

How an EMS Can Help You Manage Energy during Lockdown

As Nil and Galdric told us in the interview above, having an energy management platform is a great help and even more in situations such as the confinement during Covid-19 quarantine. In particular, they pointed out that working with a SaaS or cloud Energy Management Software was key to being able to work remotely and make the management of your projects in general easier. A clear example of SGE SaaS is the DEXMA Energy Management Platform.

And what are the benefits of working with a SaaS or cloud-based BMS such as the DEXMA Platform?

Here are 7 of them:

  1. You can work remotely without having to go to the location in person. It gives you much more accessibility and flexibility in general, but in circumstances such as Covid-19 confinement even more.
  2. Monitor all energy data of a single project at once from a single location. This means that you can monitor several buildings or locations from a unique platform, since you will have all the information in the same software. 
  3. You’ll get the energy data in real time, plus you can easily access historical data when you need it. This will help you get a more detailed analysis of the energy consumption of your installations. 
  4. You can create reports of all your projects without moving from home, as it is currently the case, without any problem.
  5. You can set up Consumption Alerts to help you detect problems in your facilities.   
  6. You will always have technical support wherever you are. As for DEXMA, we all continue to work remotely and our services have not stopped, especially thanks to working with a Cloud Energy Management Platform.
  7. And finally, having a platform that unifies analysis tools, detection and optimisation of energy in a unique software. This avoids you opening 3 or 4 tools at the same time for every action you need to do. 

Besides these benefits, I encourage you to break the myths of working with a Cloud or SaaS BMS by taking a look at this other article where we dismantled 5 of them.  

And if after reading the article you would like to see a demonstration of what an Energy Management Software like DEXMA Platform can do for you, feel free to enter the demo here.

DEXMA Energy Intelligence