Energy efficiency in buildings has been earmarked as a sector where significant improvements should be made, as the threat of electricity shortages return with South Africa emerging from an economic downturn.
Honeywell energy services business development manager Mark Owen recommends that building owners and managers install an all-encompassing energy saving solution as soon as possible, in order to achieve the greatest savings.
If interventions are phased in individually over time, they are complex to calculate and have a lesser return on investment.
Honeywell has been involved in improving efficiency in new and existing buildings through new mechanical equipment, automated controls, load shifting programmes, chiller optimisation, lighting strategies and other energy conservation measures.
Benefits can also be delivered through the integration of existing building systems including heating and cooling systems, lighting, and safety and security.
"The objective is energy saving, not the sale of a specific product," says Owen, noting that Honeywell does not restrict itself to specific vendor equipment, and can work with existing equipment in a building, or whatever products a building manager prefers, be it heat pumps, solar water heaters, lighting controls or refrigeration options - a range of technologies from a range of manufacturers.
By integrating energy supply and demand strategies, Honeywell says that it can typically help reduce operating costs by up to 25%. Savings can then be reinvested into facility improvements or applied directly to a company's bottom line.
"We'll help you self fund improvements with energy savings that are guaranteed in writing through an energy saving performance contract, so you can make needed upgrades today without requiring a capital investment up front," notes Honeywell.
"Often the cash you need to modernise your facility is buried in your energy costs," explains Honeywell building solutions Africa sales leader Cedric Greeves.
Through energy-saving capital improvements, Honeywell estimates that building managers can save from 10% to more than 60% on energy bills.
Before saving can begin, it is important to measure what is used, and baselines should be established.
Honeywell starts with a free walkthrough energy audit, which usually takes about a day. This overview of operations allows Honeywell to report on what potential savings could be achieved. After contractual engagement, this is followed by an investment grade audit - a much more detailed and extensive energy audit, that forms the basis for its self funding guaranteed energy saving performance contract.
Honeywell is also excited about its Enterprise Building Integrator (EBI), which is comprehensive automation for all building systems. Described as the "heart of the system", the EBI is able to control movement CCTV, access control, fire equipment, public service announcement systems, as well as energy management systems.
The EBI is single point where one could see complete facility and systems status for a single building or an entire campus. This awareness could help reduce energy and operational costs further.
Greeves emphasises that training is important, as the equipment does not run itself. Thus Honeywell brings in best practice for change management, and assists with operation of a facility - particularly since paybacks are linked to guarantees.
In addition to energy saving, a greater focus on water efficiency is also emerging, increasing the focus on water in buildings as well.