Following the PM’s announcement on 14 May 2010, 18 department HQ buildings now have real time energy displays, most of which have the capability to report data in intervals of less than one hour, and a delay of no more than one day.
We have seen a range of systems put in place by departments. DECC and Home Office were amongst the first departments to get systems up and running – the sites look very different but the output is similar. Behind the scenes, the equipment needed varies according to what is already installed in buildings; some systems use existing building management systems, others needed bespoke equipment which allows communication between energy meters and IT networks.
Now that these systems are in place, the challenge is to ensure that these systems are used to reduce energy use.
Already we are starting to see positive results as the detailed real time energy data helps departments identify where they are using the most energy and when. With this information they can then work out how to reduce energy use, for example making sure heating and cooling systems are turned on and off at the right times. This is already leading to energy savings.
When you consider that the energy costs for some buildings are very significant then it is evident that even small percentage savings will have a significant cash impact. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, who installed real time energy systems back in October 2009 estimates that savings using real time energy systems might be as high as 20%.
For us, the interesting point of this policy is the impact of transparency. Publishing this data online has really focussed minds; In the words of Chris Huhne “There can be no hiding place for energy waste in central government”.