Sustainability appears to have taken a back seat in the global fight against Covid-19. In an economic climate that is challenged by growth and unemployment, many corporate occupiers and building owners are scrutinizing costs.
As organizations de-densify and review their carbon footprint, building owners are hard pressed to provide quality real estate that stands out. A well-managed facility will be in a better position to attract corporate occupiers.
The issue of energy consumption has generated growing interest among building owners and investors not only because of its immediate impact on operational costs but also because there is mounting pressure to be responsible corporate citizens. Talent, particularly millennials, are attracted to work at organizations where environmental sustainability is a priority.
Governments around the world have committed to reducing greenhouse emissions. Aside from IT equipment which typically forms the largest energy use, 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the power is consumed by air conditioning systems for cooling purposes. Instead of installing cooling systems that use electricity and burn carbon, companies have explored alternative ways to reduce electricity consumption.
Studies have indicated that replacing old systems with new energy-efficient ones, turning off unused or dead servers and using power on-demand may bring down the power consumption significantly. Whatever the methods used, one thing is clear - an improvement in energy efficiency can reap significant business benefits for building owners. Organizations now have the ability to make decisions around energy efficiencies at an earlier stage of a building’s lifecycle, beginning with an energy audit, the first step towards a comprehensive energy management strategy that will enable continuous improvements in building operational efficiencies and to identify cost saving opportunities.
Building owners can exercise fuller control of how much savings they want to achieve through a rigorous process of energy usage monitoring. Innovative energy monitoring solutions enable property owners to monitor usage levels 24/7, the ability to call out at any time how energy levels are tracking. Building owners will be alerted as soon energy costs or the level of consumption deviates from expected trends. Building owners will then be able to take immediate corrective actions either by reducing the amount of energy used or switching to a lower cost energy plan.
Energy dashboards have the ability to capture energy usage data across multiple buildings. This way, building owners have better control over the outcomes they want to achieve in terms of energy savings, working with service providers to decide on targets for energy usage and savings, devising a strategy to achieve those targets and knowing exactly how these strategies will map out on the balance sheet.
Technology a key enabler
The Internet of Things is transforming the way machines talk to one another. Chiller portals monitoring air con usage are now programmed to auto correct when temperature levels are too high. The data on energy usage levels that is being collected real time 24/7 provides a rich amount of trends analytics that will go towards anticipating system faults ahead of time, before they even surface. Receiving prompt notifications on anomalies through remote sensors that measure temperature, power, humidity, and physical security would help trigger a quick response to rectify issues in a timely manner, avoiding energy wastage. iOT is set out to self-correct these faults so that the quality of the environment is maintained at a steady state, minimizing the chances of a breakdown. With Covid-19, energy management takes on another level – that of ensuring the air within a building is well circulated and sanitized. As smart energy technologies continue to be experimented and embraced by companies here, building owners will see the benefits of applying these systems to their facilities, mitigating the pressure on power and helping to manage cost. This is critical for property owners who compete to lure global brands to set up operations in their office buildings at premium rents.
As cities and building begin to re-open, energy use will start rising again, which could put a strain on operating budgets impacted by Covid-19. Building owners have the opportunity now to review their energy management strategies to make sure they reap maximum value from every dollar spent on their energy systems.
As a global leader in Property & Facilities Management, Engineering Consultancy, and Energy Management, Cushman & Wakefield Thailand is well placed to assist developers, owners, and occupiers with their real estate needs in Thailand. Please contact Gareth Powell or Ratana Vilairat for further information.
The above article originally appeared on Bangkok Post on 19 March 2021.