Facilities Management Middle East
Energy upgrades for cooling systems are key to optimising costs and performance
Energy upgrades for cooling systems are key to optimising performance, says Kevin Laidler from Armstrong Fluid Technology
As we know, energy can be an expensive commodity. It’s not surprising then, that many facility managers are seeking ways to optimise the efficiency of cooling systems. Their goal is to reduce the high costs of cooling systems by improving system performance and enhancing energy efficiency.
Let’s start by first understanding the risks of resisting energy updates for our cooling systems. A challenge often faced by facility managers is ‘performance drift’. When cooling systems are initially
installed, they operate impeccably. However, over time component efficiency and systems conditions ‘drift’ away from the original design values for the system. When this happens, efficiency and performance of the entire system degrade.
The fading performance of cooling systems provokes negative consequences: reduced comfort for occupants and wasteful energy usage, resulting in higher costs and more greenhouse gas emissions.
On the topic of emissions, it’s important to also consider the impact of each building on the wider ecosystem of our cities. In the Middle East, sustainability is the driving force behind plans for urban development. The Dubai Master Plan 2040, for example, outlines efforts to make Dubai one of the greenest cities in the world through transformations in construction, transportation, and infrastructure. As we work towards the ‘greening’ of our cities, the integration of practices that support sustainability is no longer a value-added benefit, but rather a requirement for projects to gain acceptance and succeed.
For HVAC systems, approximately 5% of the lifetime carbon footprint can be traced to the manufacturing of components. The other 95% comes from energy usage during the operating life of the equipment. Clearly, the greatest opportunity to enhance sustainability lies in improving performance deficiencies.
By improving these performance deficiencies, facilities managers are also able to reduce energy costs, lower carbon emissions and optimise the indoor environment of their building to better support occupants.
So how can you improve cost and performance of systems in your building? By reversing and preventing the loss of energy efficiency. Buildings today often operate below their optimal efficiency because facility managers lack the time or tools to collect, analyse and evaluate data from their cooling system. Without data, or the ability to analyse it, managers cannot properly optimise the systems.
If we combine intelligent energy management with high-performing systems, then we can transform the way buildings operate.
Energy management involves proactive performance tracking, management, and optimisation of energy consumption in a building. Upgrading of equipment to the latest smart technology can help to minimise lifecycle carbon footprint, improve occupant comfort and lower installation and operation costs.
First, it is necessary to properly understand the specific energy demands of each building. Data collection is vital in this process. For example, the fluid flow rates of cooling systems are important indicators of system performance. Using pumps that accurately measure flow rate through smart technology is an effective starting point - they enable the use of flow data for system performance analysis and optimisation.
With smart pumps, savings start from day one as they more effectively meet load demand. Further data analysis can reveal what additional system equipment upgrades are required. For example,
analysis of accurate system flow data allows for larger equipment, such as chillers, to be potentially upgraded to smaller units to meet demand, which can result in further energy savings.
Technology advancements in the last decade have been effective at delivering energy efficient upgrades that offer up to 70% cost savings compared to traditional systems. For example, demand-based operations ensure energy is consumed only on a need-based level. Parallel Sensorless pumping technology enables pump performance to adjust automatically according to system load. Innovations such as these enable pumps in cooling systems to function at optimum levels, thus using energy more intelligently and reducing our consumption of fossil fuels.
Variable speed pumps are an effective solution to upgrade cooling systems and enhance energy efficiency. Design Envelope pumps are mapped to optimise system performance, but they also monitor real-time system conditions and dynamically adjust equipment operation to match system demand. The result is highly efficient cooling systems that deliver substantial energy savings compared to conventional fixed speed pumps.
The Pump Manager subscription service provides deep insights into system operation to support informed decision-making. Ongoing tracking and analysis of performance can prevent performance drift and drives savings in installation, performance and maintenance costs
For facilities managers, adopting smart technology can provide a number of benefits. These technologies enable remote access to system performance and data any time, any place and also give multiple stakeholders simultaneously access. In addition to reporting capabilities, they can receive operations alerts for any changes or if potential issues arise such as leaks, allowing for enhanced predictive maintenance to protect occupant comfort at all times.
For communities in hot climates, district cooling systems can be more effective than standard individual air conditioning systems. By aggregating the cooling requirements of a network of buildings, district cooling can help to balance electrical loads, lower fuel costs and drive efficiency. District cooling is up to 50% more efficient than air conditioning systems in individual buildings.
Building operators sometimes hesitate to upgrade their cooling system because more sophisticated systems require investment. However, the returns from using more efficient systems are worth it. Simple payback on energy upgrade projects starts from day one and is usually reached within 5 years. Energy savings can continue for the life of the system, delivering up to 40% savings on consumption related to HVAC operation.
To improve energy efficiency, we must embrace innovative energy saving solutions. The world is currently experiencing a shift towards greener building practices, encouraging the development of new technologies that maintain, prevent or even reverse the loss of energy efficiency. Using cooling systems with the in-built capability to do so, is the way to can create safer, stronger and more sustainable spaces in the built environment.
BUILDINGS TODAY OFTEN OPERATE BELOW THEIR OPTIMAL EFFICIENCY BECAUSE FACILITY MANAGERS LACK THE TIME OR TOOLS TO COLLECT, ANALYZE AND EVALUATE DATA FROM THEIR COOLING SYSTEM.