Energy Wardens – The Face of Energy Efficiency
The basic principle of the cheapest kilowatt saved is the one that you never used, lies behind the simple but tried and tested idea that empowered and knowledgeable employees can reduce energy usage and maintain this as an ongoing routine, with very little cost and disproportionate financial and environmental gains.
The training does not have to be in-depth, as the staff are not intended to be energy managers or engineers, but simply understand how they and their colleagues use energy, and that they can gain personally from more efficient usage. It is this approach that I used on various sites to help reduce energy costs, with limited budgetary support, and I will detail one site and the results of the follow-on case study which I used to obtain further funding.
Energy Warden Training Case Study – Copthorne Barracks, Shrewsbury
As capital funding was limited, and there were higher priority tasks, I decided to take a no/low technology approach to mitigating energy usage on the site, to generate savings that could be re-directed to fund projects. I developed a simple, but informative training package that could be delivered inhouse to staff, that would allow them to actively participate and take control of their energy usage.
The course consisted of six modules, each of an hour approximately, delivered face to face over a day, with a simple multiple-choice test at the end to ensure that the participants had listened; this was backed with a small prize to encourage attention, and to send a message that active energy management could deliver rewards to the staff as well as the management. For the Copthorne barracks session, we had thirty volunteers, from the Military, Civilian and contractor staff, covering all the office buildings.
The site at Copthorne Barracks, is primarily an administrative site with large offices, and some limited catering and accommodation. For this study, we will be dealing only with the office buildings, which consist of the following:
1 x three story steel and concrete 1980’s purpose-built office block, housing 125 staff in both open plan and individual offices. Double glazed, with T12 fluorescent lighting tubes (Which is the case throughout the site) and 1960s gas fired hot water district heating, with point of demand electric boilers for hot water.
2 x two story blocks, 1905 brick construction, formerly cavalry stables with accommodation on the upper floor. Each holding 70+ staff; heavily modified into multiple occupied offices (Four per room), double glazed, and similar arrangements for heating and hot water as the larger block.
1 x two story block, 1970s concrete and brick built, holding 40+ staff; again, double glazed, but heated via a standalone gas boiler, but point of demand electric boilers for water.
2 x two story 1905 converted red brick accommodation blocks, holding 15 staff each; attached to the district system, with local gas boilers in each for hot water. Neither building is double glazed, as they are grade 2 listed with original window fittings of cast iron.
The site has a defunct ‘Databird’ BEMS system, and control has been delegated down to individual buildings, excepting the district system, controlled at the boiler house via a 1960s GE control system. The annual energy usage of the site was 1.5 million kWh for electricity and 4.2 million kWh for gas, costing £538k per year (2012 contract prices, Government Procurement Service). The usual old way of controlling heat was used, if it was too hot, open the window.
The six modules covered what the issues were, the reasons for energy efficiency (Cost, environment and security), how the staffs’ behaviour affected this, what the staff could do to control usage, how to go about this and simple technical knowledge to help (how to set a thermostat, how to make other staff aware and how to encourage them to adapt their behaviour to make an impact). The lessons were designed in such a way that they related directly to the staff involved and could also be applied to their home environments; I made a point of not using industry jargon or technical descriptions, but assuming that the staff had some knowledge of the subject.
As part of this exercise, I developed a poster and leaflet campaign for the volunteers to deliver following the training and designed them so that they could be modified to include unit insignia; I also obtained copies of various Carbon Trust documents that they could use if needed.
To ensure that the training was effective, I took the decision to monitor the energy usage for the office buildings for the following two years (July 2010 to June 2011), so that I could compare this to the data for the preceding two years (July 2008 to June 2009); I also used degree day data and tempo data (Occupancy of buildings) to take seasonal and usage variances out, to allow a more direct comparison. As the site has no working sub-metering (Due to the defunct BEMS), the sites overall metered usage for electricity and gas was used, with a reduction for the extraneous buildings; this deducted figure was calculated by using benchmarking to calculate the theoretical usage, using the CIBSE Guide TM46 as the primary data set.
Taking the two energy sources (See graphs Electricity and Gas), there is an obvious drop in overall patterned usage for both years 2010 (11%) and 2011 (7%) compared to the average figure for years 2008 and 2009. The initial large drop can be assumed to be the result of the training and work implemented by the staff, with the slight increase being down to slowing of enthusiasm as the months progress.
The large drop offs in periods 1 (July) and 2 (August) are due to the summer school holidays and the reduction of staff on site by approximately 55% during a period of six weeks; The drop off in period 6 (December) is due to a two-week closure of the site, with only security staff remaining on site. After considering seasonal variances from year to year, and the ‘tempo’ (Movement of staff on and off the site), the identified drop in usage in 2010 and 2011 is down to the staff changing behavior in their usage of the site energy resources.
The reduction in energy consumed amounts to an ongoing average of 154,052 kWh for electricity and 838,511 kWh of gas, equating to a financial saving of £88,648 and a reduction in emissions of 227 tonnes CO2e overall (Conversion factors taken from DUKEs 2011). A follow up survey during 2012 showed that the overall average reduction of 10% for electricity and 20% for gas remained, with the ongoing awareness programme run by the site staff keeping the programme active; however, the programme ceased in 2014 following the closure of the main headquarters building, and the subsequent increase in energy usage for the remaining buildings effectively removed the overall saving and returned to proportionately the same level of usage in 2009.
The simple staff awareness and engagement campaign had a noticeable effect on energy usage for the office buildings, allowing the site to meet its 2010 and 2011 CO2 reduction targets and save funds that were later redirected to replace some of the T12 lighting with T8s; feedback from the staff involved was positive and they showed an interest in the subject that continued afterwards, including developing their own poster and leaflet campaign for 2011 Energy Week.
The ceasing of the programme in 2014, and the subsequent increase in energy usage clearly demonstrates the need to keep the ‘foot on the throttle’, by a more continuous and active campaign. The usual one-week method of the annual Energy Week makes some reduction for that week, but vanishes shortly afterwards, rendering the effort as a token gesture, rather than a meaningful approach.
Therefore, my conclusion is that a simple training course aimed at non-technical staff can be very effective, in meeting financial and environmental impact reduction policies, without significant capital investment; the cost of delivering the course came to £3,000 in total, compared to the annual reduction of £88,648, the results are clearly disproportionate to the investment. Having studied the data of this and other such campaigns on other sites, I have drawn the conclusion that an effective programme can reduce the energy usage by an average of 7% for office environments (The results for other building usage varies according to their purpose).
The main conclusion though is that there must be an ongoing permanent approach to behavior management, to maintain the savings, and to ensure that a cohesive policy can be delivered.
For more information contact:
Roger Low, Director
telephone: 07814 155253 | email: email@example.com | website:
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All Speedwell Energy Services Case Studies
- Energy Wardens – The Face of Energy Efficiency
- The basic principle of the cheapest kilowatt saved is the one that you never used, lies behind the simple but tried and tested idea that empowered and knowledgeable employees can reduce energy usage and maintain this as an ongoing routine, with very little cost and disproportionate financial and environmental gains. | 28th June 2018