False Economies in Building Management
Investigating and eliminating False economies has the potential to save some serious money for both the Facility Manager and the Owner.
Where to begin, there are two major areas of loss, the first being labour the second being energy and natural resources. The labour side is actually the least obvious, we not talking about the “dead wood” scenario, we are talking about the labour time to apply to something that is held to be productive and strategic, yet is actually a loss.
Energy and resource false economies are harder to detect, if they were obvious, you would eliminate them today. To discover the false economies requires a working knowledge of the site, the equipment and the expectations of the outcomes from operations of that equipment in the given situation. Measurements and verification of these outcomes and comparisons to the expectations usually provides the flag that there is an operational anomaly that can be resolved. What is the cost of that resolution and will the savings pay for the resolution in a reasonable amount of time.
Labour and energy false economies
The losses in labour costs and energy can often be resolved through training and education, yes there is an investment here, and hopefully a quick payback. By investing in the training of staff, and training them in regards to the indirect consequences of their actions they become aware of the energy consumption or environmental impact of their actions.
A simple example is the additional labour in doing something manually that can be automated. the automation uses energy, but it s quicker and easier that the staff. The staff will typically perform the same task using more energy, as they will need lights and air conditioning, where as the automated product will need only its operational energy.
Air Conditioning false economies
The air conditioning is often the cause of energy losses, not just in the efficiency issues of aging equipment and the configuration of A/C equipment (that a whole other article) but with operators of the A/C equipment. Conflicting zones with a primary air cooling system is often the cause. Too low set point adjustment in the primary air from the air handling unit, individual zones all set well above the coldest zone of the same A/C unit make the unit work harder in terms of energy consumption. There are many other examples especially in the larger office and commercial environments, this is why a third party to Energy Audit of the site can save 4 or 5 times the amount spent on the audit it self.
The Greatest False Economy
The greatest loss we have seen is property managers and owners doing nothing to understand their energy and potential savings within a given facility. The lack of action provides a savings upon audits, and capital costs in resolving the anomalies discovered in those audits, but the energy and resource waste is still there next month and in the next budget, where as the capital cost for the audits and the implementation of the solutions will disappear off the ledger by the end of the year.
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