Aditya Kumar, Director of Energy and Sustainability at Honeywell Building Technologies, details how companies can meet the Government’s net-zero goals using carbon reduction and management software

As the Government’s net-zero targets become more important, building technologies that help to enable sustainability goals lie at the heart of carbon reduction efforts. (1) It is an apt time for building owners to act to gain better visibility into their energy and carbon use.

Recently, a number of businesses have promised to uphold sustainability targets, including a third of the UK’s biggest companies committing to net-zero (2) According to data from the British Chamber of Commerce, many of these companies lack the knowledge and tools to accurately ascertain progress and optimise their carbon and energy footprint. (3)

There are many areas that businesses can look at to reduce their carbon emissions. Prime among these are the facilities that they operate, which can be significant contributors to a company’s overall carbon footprint. According to data from the Climate Change Committee (CCC), (4) commercial buildings accounted for approximately 14% of UK building carbon emissions in 2019.

Traditionally, many businesses have relied on building management systems to manage and monitor energy usage across their sites, often without specific information on carbon impact. Extracting this level of insight from energy data in a non-specialised system is challenging, complex and time-consuming.

How software can help set carbon reduction targets

Innovation in building technologies software is making measuring energy performance and carbon use monitoring easier. Software can now be used to help discover where and how electricity, gas, water and other utilities are used across an organisation’s building portfolio and where this corresponds to direct or indirect carbon emissions.

To track a course towards reduced carbon emissions, companies must set out upon a process of assessing their carbon and energy footprints, visualising this data, optimising energy, and then moving towards carbon neutrality.

1. Assessing carbon and energy footprints

Organisations require full visibility of how energy is being used and wasted across their building portfolio. Software can help find a consumption baseline through tracking energy use intensity (EUI) and carbon emissions for each building across a company’s building portfolio. Although energy management is an integral part of painting a true picture of EUI, clarity is also important at the device level to track how energy is being used across a particular building down to individual equipment.

Assessment is also vital to measuring carbon reduction plans once they are installed by validating the effectiveness of pilot initiatives and energy conservation measures. This can provide better insights as to what carbon reduction targets should be, and what is appropriate for the building in question.

2. Visualising data

Software can be used to predict and model trends with past and real-time data to prioritise the most cost- efficient ways for a building to save, thereby providing a thorough assessment for stakeholders. For example, energy management software can establish a performance baseline using up to a three-year usage history, live meter data and environmental factors to determine which assets are driving energy consumption.

3. Optimising energy usage

Once energy data has been accurately depicted, it’s possible to determine where improvements can be made. Energy management software can use machine learning to dynamically finetune building automation systems based on the baseline energy usage profile to maintain and increase building efficiency. This can be used to determine where energy-saving targets should be, as the system identifies where efficiency improvements can be made without impacting the occupant experience.

Through this process, realistic sustainability targets should be clarified for the organisation, allowing carbon reduction targets to be set with a clear aim of improving building operations.

Tracking sustainability goals

Following the creation of sustainability goals, software can use data, analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities in a cloud-based service to optimise energy use, decrease carbon emissions and, finally, support sustainability efforts throughout the enterprise.

Software systems can use smart meters, sensors and utility data to segment actual consumption and energy emissions by type of utility. Then it can analyse the data alongside factors like occupancy, weather and real-time utility rates. Facility managers can use this insight to help decrease energy use in unoccupied sites or to optimise equipment usage during periods of peak utility rates. The system’s analysis can be delivered to organisations in a dashboard that translates data into clear visuals of key performance indicators (KPIs).

As the UK Government has set a national target of achieving net-zero by 2050, comprehensive building energy management and better insight into carbon impact will be key to achieving this target.

Specialist carbon monitoring software will play an essential role in helping businesses to identify where and how targets can be measured and accomplished.

 

References
(1) UK Government “UK becomes first major economy to pass net zero emissions law” (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-becomes-first-major-economy-to-pass-net-zero-emissions-law) Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and The Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP, 27th June 2019 [Accessed 2nd August 2022].

(2) UK Government “Third of UK’s biggest companies commit to net zero” Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/third-of-uks-biggest-companies-commit-to-net-zero#:~:text=UK%20FTSE100%20companies%20who%20have,become%20net% 20zero%20by%202040.), 30th March 2021 [Accessed 11th August 2022].

(3) The British Chambers of Commerce “Net zero survey (https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/media/get/Net%20Zero%20Su rvey%20August%2021%20v3.pdf)” The British Chambers of Commerce and O2 , August 2021 [Accessed 11th August 2022].

(4) The Climate Change Committee “The Sixth Carbon Budget: Buildings” (https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/sixth-carbon-budget/#sector-summaries) The Climate Change Committee [Accessed 11th August 2022].

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Director of Energy and Sustainability
Honeywell Building Technologies
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