November the 11th was the date of the second Smart Buildings Magazine round table which was hosted by NG Bailey at the company's offices in Islington.

The focus of the round table was energy efficiency, and with buildings consuming 42 per cent of all electricity and in the UK non-domestic buildings generating 18 per cent of carbon emissions, the debate was wide ranging and threw up some interesting points.
On the panel were:

  • Chris Coath, head of energy, NG Bailey
  • Scott Baker, head of customer delivery, NG Bailey
  • Tanuja Randery - zone president UK & Ireland, Schneider UK & Ireland
  • Pradyumna Pandit, vice president for ecobuildings, Schneider UK & Ireland
  • Rebecca Pearce, EMEA head of sustainability, CBRE
  • Gary Bark, energy consultant, RedstoneConnect
  • Jamie Hall, operations director, Mitie Energy
  • John Staheli, managing associate, Nabarro LLP
  • Dr TC Tan, buildings solutions architect, Commscope

Chris Coath got the debate started and stated that NG Bailey was looking to make the link between facilities management (FM) and engineering, in order to make new and legacy buildings operate correctly. NG Bailey is still getting to grips as to what a smart building is. The company is currently working with its customers to make its existing buildings smarter. However, what Chris revealed was that a lot of the buildings his clients have, are already pretty smart, and generate a lot of data. However, this data is not being used effectively on a global level, and it is vital that companies become estate rather than building focused in order to make good data. It is all about using the data correctly. Chris also stated that there is a big gap between the construction industry and the FM industry, and we need to make sure that new buildings are built smart. Scott Baker added that in the time it takes to build a structure, technology moves on so quickly that the technology can be out of date on building completion. He also stated it was important to work with and educate clients, so that they are aware of what a smart building can achieve.

Tanuja Randery then stated that there is almost 82 per cent of untapped efficiency in buildings and that 80 per cent of building consumption is in the HVAC. Tanuja also stated that 75 per cent of the lifetime costs go on maintenance and operations. So how do we lower those lifetime costs and how do we get to the untapped efficiency in buildings? Tanuja stated that there are some simple ways such as blind control. Tanuja then suggested there needs to be a cultural change on the use of energy by the user. Jamie Hall said that most of the buildings that Mitie Energy deals with are old buildings, across all markets. He suggested it is important to use the data that is collected to improve the well being of the user, and this is something that Mitie Energy is aiming to do.

Dr Tan stated that the way that FM and engineering can come together was through Building Information Modelling (BIM), which at the moment is only a requirement for big projects in the government sector, but BIM will drive progress in this area. Scott stated that developers will now also be a driver for the use of BIM and data as they are looking to maximise their profit and this is one way in which they can. Tanuja added that BIM does lower construction costs. Pradyumna Pandit then argued that as an industry we are not talking enough to the users of the building, and we need to make the user care more about the building and get the user to effect energy usage. Gary Bark asked how do we get industry to change its approach, as it's not a technology problem, and as John Staheli confirmed, it's a behavioural problem. This is magnified as each stakeholder in a building or a business has different objectives and to align those interests is very difficult.

Rebecca Pearce stated that there was a smartening of buildings, but there needed to be a dumbing down on how the data in buildings is interpreted and given to clients. CBRE currently has a programme in place that is educating its clients to understand the data that they are getting and can then act on that data appropriately. Gary added that maybe it is necessary to have a managed services approach to energy, so that companies can change their approach, and get the value out of their data. Jamie stated the role of the energy manager was also becoming more important, as building owners and occupiers need to realise the consequences of their actions, and having energy as a managed service will save a company money. We need to teach people there are ways to run a building more efficiently.

Chris said that educating people is the key and that workers will understand decisions if you explain the reasoning behind that decision. For example, he stated that if you tell a workforce that the office will be colder for the first half hour of the day, but the company will save 'x' amount of money and have lower carbon emissions they will buy into this form of energy management. Gary added that the people that we really need to educate are the ones that control the plant room.

Tanuja stated that energy costs and usage will continue to spiral, energy will become a huge problem to address. Dr Tan said that we have to match energy efficiency with productivity. For example, if you use low emissivity glass, you then lose mobile phone signal, so how you address energy efficiency needs to be thought out.
John Staheli said that 2018 was a big year as from then you will not be able to let buildings that have a F or G energy rating. Upgrade works will be essential. It was also pointed out the 1 in 5 of UK buildings are F and G rated, and that is just the ones that we know about. Rebecca said that owners are trying to find out what their building performance was. Rebecca also said that the new building regulations will be important for energy efficiency.

Tanuja also added that the Government needs to do something to promote energy efficiency. Scott added that there is a big skills gap in the construction industry, that needs to be addressed. Engineering needs to be addressed at a young age. Dr Tan then raised the point that companies such as Microsoft and Amazon were very interested in this market and a cloud based energy solution is definitely on the cards in the near future. Jamie said there would be a data driven model and perhaps energy as a service, but we are not quite there yet. Tanuja also believes that FM will become a digital space. Gary stated that 40 per cent of energy usage in a building is HVAC and of that 25 per cent is wasted energy, which equates to 8-10 per cent of total energy spend, so on a million pound annual energy spend you are effectively wasting £100,000 per annum, through not optimising existing assets, which is a huge opportunity for UK business.

Pradyumna also believes that the home market will be an influencer on the business market, and people can see that home control works and this will influence the workplace.
Jamie concluded by saying that the cost of doing nothing in terms of volume is a minus. If you are spending £50m a year now in 5 years time it could be £65m, people are starting to do something about it but more needs to be done. The wide ranging debate covered a lot of ground, but one of the main issues was the disconnect between FM and engineering/construction. To misquote one individual at the event, “the duck does not talk to the chicken.” Perhaps it’s time for all the stakeholders in the sector to get all their ducks in a row to create a proper energy plan.