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Integrating Smart Building Technology

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Buyer beware – the marketplace for building automation, smart building, and building technology is evolving quickly and is full of new technologies, complicated integration and snazzy buzzwords.

It is so important to understand the benefits to be achieved from making a building ‘smart’, and to define what this actually means to you, the building occupier, the property manager and maintenance team? 

In short, data acquisition is a useless exercise unless you know how to read, manipulate and formulate efficiency or improvement actions from the data presented; whilst also understanding the key benefits of smart building upgrades that you’re trying to harness.

When optimally deployed, smart buildings technologies have the potential to deliver productivity and wellbeing improvements at the lowest cost and with the lowest possible environmental impact over the building lifecycle. This requires adding intelligence through a building’s useful life. There are potentially numerous systems and subsystems which can be integrated, and these have typically operated independently in the past, so in a smart environment these systems can share information to optimise total building performance. 

However, this must also be backed up by human intelligence to really understand the interactions and available opportunities for efficiency.  

Collaboration with building occupants, control specialists, building M&E maintainers combined with an understanding of human behavioural operation patterns, is paramount and all parties should be clear of their obligation to maintain or improve operational standards.

This is the psychology that we at ETS are applying with forward thinking national and international brands to install hardware and software that satisfy the clients need for visibility, control and reporting of a building and wider portfolio’s operation. 

We are employing an empowering approach to building technology which enables individual building systems to be connected and integrated. Most buildings already have some level of intelligence built in, whether HVAC, lighting, or fire safety. We are technology agnostic, and work with various manufacturers’ equipment dependent upon the client’s requirements, budget and what they want to achieve from the data outputs. Consequently, at ETS we are pushing to achieve more from building data and ultimately make better decisions.

A well-designed smart solution at any stage of a building’s life can make a property more attractive to buyers, a better letting option for tenants and occupiers, through greatly reduced cost and carbon emission, being more efficient to operate and maintain, and alignment with broader CSR agendas.

How can ETS help?

With a dedicated Smart Buildings and Automation team, ETS have the depth of knowledge and expertise to design, specify and integrate new Smart Buildings technologies into your properties, whilst also ensuring that you are getting the very best from the systems you already have in place. 

For more information please see https://energy-ts.com/technology/

To discuss your requirements, get in touch. You can contact us by calling 0117 205 0542 or drop us an email at enquiries@energy-ts.com.    

The Heat Networks (Metering & Billing) Regulations – Action Required in 2021

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By ETS

What are the Heat Networks (Metering & Billing) Regulations?

The Heat Networks (Metering & Billing) Regulations – ‘HNMBR’ – were introduced in 2014 to drive energy efficiency and carbon reduction across heat networks which, as they represent a relatively small proportion of UK heating systems, previously went largely unregulated.

In short, the regulations promote efficiency improvements through the installation of consumer-level metering devices – i.e. leaning on the axiom that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” – whilst also facilitating clearer and more accurate billing for end-users.

Previously, in the first incarnation of the regulations, operators of heat networks were simply required to notify the regulator (the Office for Products & Safety Standards, ‘OPSS’) of any and all heat networks under their control.

Now, since an update of the Regulations in November 2020, the evolving requirements have placed additional actions on operators of heat networks, with potentially significant financial implications for heat meter installations over the next 18 months.

What action is required and by when?

The updated HNMBR requirements essentially comprise 3 main elements, which are in addition to the ongoing requirement to complete an updated HMNBR Notification of all heat networks under an operator’s control every 4 years.

The additional actions relate to classifying buildings that contain heat networks, undertaking cost effectiveness assessments for the installation of heat meters / cost allocators, and then the installation for those meters that are deemed suitable.

As an overview:

  • 27 November 2021: Deadline to define building classes – essentially determining whether properties fall into one of the following 3 classes: Viable, Open, or Exempt.
  • 27 November 2021: Deadline to complete ‘cost effectiveness’ assessments – this will require building-specific investigations, using proprietary tools produced by BEIS / OPSS, as to whether the installation of heat meters or cost allocators is cost effective for those buildings that are in scope, based on their classification.
  • 1 September 2022: Deadline for the installation of heat meters / cost allocators that have been identified as being cost effective.

Updated notifications to the regulator will also be required, detailing building classifications and metering installations.

Clearly, depending on the outcome of cost effectiveness tests, the financial implications for landlords and property managers may be highly significant, and will need to be built into budgets for 2022 in good time.

How can ETS help?

ETS keeps fully abreast of legislative develops that affect our clients’ businesses. 

We have supported our clients through the first iterations of the HNMBR and will continue to do so across all aspects of the updated regulations – from building classification and cost effectiveness tests, to turnkey specification, tender and project management of required heat meter installation across our clients’ portfolios.

If you or your colleagues want to know what the updates to the regulations mean for your business or property portfolio, we would be happy to talk to you about your specific circumstances and how we can assist. Our expert team at ETS are always here to help; you can contact us by calling 0117 205 0542 or drop us an email at enquiries@energy-ts.com.

The future of offices

420 280 Stuart O'Brien

By ETS

The role of the office is changing. Over recent times, we’ve seen a rapid shift in how businesses across all sectors operate. Due to Covid-19, more people than ever are working from home, with many offices remaining empty or at least operating with heavily reduced capacity.

And the response to this has mostly been positive: employees have gained additional flexibility and are able to spend more time with their families, while, from a business side, reports from industry seem to suggest that there haven’t been any significant drop-offs in productivity. It’s probably safe to say that remote working is here to stay in one form or another, and is likely to make up a large chunk of people’s working weeks going forward.

Of course, this begs the question – what does this change in working dynamic mean for the concept of the company office, and businesses’ existing estates?

The Changing Role of Office Spaces 

It’s important to examine the function the office has traditionally played for businesses in order to work out how it might change in the future.

The office has always been a key social space for companies. Not only is it somewhere for existing colleagues to collaborate and connect, but it also acts as an essential hub for new employees, and a key part of the overall business ‘identity’. For staff – especially new recruits – the process of coming to the office, meeting your new colleagues and learning about the company culture has always been an essential step in employee onboarding. 

And it’s hard to see this changing drastically in the future. Businesses will always need that physical hub, even if it isn’t used in exactly the same way with the same level of frequency.

One shift we’re expecting to see is just how much office space businesses need. Many large companies structure their office portfolio through a ‘hub-and-spoke’ model. This means that, usually, they have one or a few large offices in the central business districts of key cities, such as a London or Manchester, and several smaller regional offices elsewhere.

With the majority of employees regularly working from home, these smaller offices could come to be seen as inessential, prompting companies to reduce their overall property footprint and instead focus on one or two central offices, which are served by good transport infrastructure – and with a potentially higher requirement on quality of space for these remaining key assets.

It is estimated that real estate roughly accounts from 8% of a company’s total operating costs on average, so cutting back on total occupied space could act as an effective way to protect company finances during these turbulent times. Any freed-up budget could be retained, funneled into R&D and service development, or be used to fund areas of the business that were traditionally supported by the office, such as company culture and staff collaboration.

Flexible Work Environments 

As businesses consolidate their portfolios and certain offices become unoccupied, demand will grow for increased flexibility in these assets, as property and portfolio managers look to adapt and reposition commercial space in the market and seek out new streams of revenue. We’re likely to see a shift in how these spaces are used, perhaps transforming into co-working areas or even seeing either partial or full transformation into alternative uses – such as retail or even residential.

With this increased need for offices to play multiple roles, there will be a greater need for flexibility and adaptability of space – likely to be facilitated through the adoption of a ‘Smart Buildings’ approach. 

Many offices aren’t currently equipped to function in a way that future demand may require them to, and with things changing quickly, its important that building managers pinpoint the changes that need to be made, the associated technical requirements, and then look to evaluate the current capability of the existing building services to facilitate such alteration.

Where office use is to be retained, businesses are likely to expect more from their space in the future – especially from a health and wellbeing perspective. In light of Covid-19, factors such as internal air quality are going to be more important than ever.

Additionally, energy efficiency and operational cost will also be key considerations. With many offices operating at reduced occupancy, the automation of lighting, heating and other systems will play an essential role in streamlining processes, and ‘right sizing’ consumption and cost.

Furthermore, with an ever increasing focus on sustainability performance – especially in the light of the huge recent traction around the Net Zero carbon agenda – the ability of building systems to adapt to the increased demand for space flexibility whilst maintaining robust control of consumption and cost, and to operate on a trajectory to Net Zero status, will require more consideration of how buildings are specified, managed, adapted and maintained than ever before to mitigate risk of building obsolescence and to protect capital and rental value.

In these changing times, it’s important to partner with the right technical advisor. ETS has a wealth of experience across all these areas, and can help you prepare your offices for the future. 

We will assist your business to find the optimum Smart Buildings solutions to enable building adaptation, futureproofing and occupant wellbeing, whilst keeping a firm grip on cost and driving down carbon emissions.

Our expert team are always here to help; you can contact us by calling 0117 205 0542 or drop us an email at enquiries@energy-ts.com.

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