Energy Management is a crucial part of ensuring the longevity of a building. Bart Holsters, Operations Manager, Cofely Besix Facility Management talks to FM today about the growth seen in the energy management market in the UAE and how CBFM tackles its challenges…
Curbing energy consumption has become a top priority in the world today. Thus, energy management is rapidly emerging as a lucrative and busy segment within the GCC’s FM sector. The scope of work typically involves implementing better practices for handling power, as well as energy efficient technologies; however, the utilities make up the highest cost in terms of operating and maintaining an asset. That’s why understanding and optimizing the system operational parameters, the energy auditing and the Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) design to introduce into one’s building is a job for an energy management firm.
Cofely Besix Facility Management Ltd. LLC (CBFM), a joint-venture established in 2008 by Cofely and BESIX Group, is a part of ENGIE, who is one of the largest ESCO providers in the world, and have been active in the ESCO and EPC market for over 30 years. Having started their Energy wing in 2016, the facilities management provider has been managing many of their client's energy related issues to obtain the best possible results, and to create a substantial competitive advantage for the company.
Speaking about the energy management sector and some of CBFM’s key projects, Bart Holsters, Operations Manager, CBFM, says that their approach to rolling out energy sustainability solutions is to always provide the right solutions, implement them in the right order and in distinct phases, which form the auditing phase, right through to the implementation, measurement and verification stages during the onward operation.
Having been awarded the facilities management contract to provide total facility management services to Masdar City, Holsters explains that this is a key project to demonstrate CBFM's capabilities within the field of energy operational efficiency, monitoring and continuous improvement of Masdar City’s Energy Utilization Index (EUI) and he further states being confident that they have the right set of people to handle the job. “It is very important for us to be part of the evolution of the Masdar City project, especially now as energy management starts to mature as a concept and people start recognizing the significance of operational savings this generates. For Cofely Besix Facility Management to be aligned with a customer that is dedicated to applying the principles of energy efficiency in a living city environment, really tests our operations and maintenance teams to ensure that it all works towards a common goal, and the results merely reinforce the sustainable vision set by Masdar,” he adds.
Masdar City, one of the world’s most sustainable urban communities, is a rapidly growing clean-tech cluster, business freezone and residential neighbourhood containing one of the largest groups of lowcarbon buildings in the world. The initial contract is for a 3-year period and includes full hard, soft and civil facility management services including operations and maintenance of electrical systems, HVAC and ventilation systems, potable water, fire detection systems, lifesafety critical systems, elevators, BMS, low voltage systems and civil infrastructure work. Cooling of the buildings is provided via an energy efficient district cooling plant located within the confines of the site to assist natural cooling elements of the building design. “Energy Management plays a key role in the scope of work, and we will be introducing several innovative forms of technology and ideas to continually improve our efficiency and service delivery,” explains Holsters.
Ever since the inception of ESCOs, the energy management market has grown. Talking about this niche segment, Holsters says that while the growth is there the market at large is still maturing when compared to some international counterparts. “The energy market in general is still a maturing one compared due to the complex nature of the agreements and demonstration of cost avoidance through the ECM’s. The year 2016 has been a big one for the Dubai ESCO market specially since there were three to four new accreditations issued by the RSB and introduced in the market,” says Holsters.
Thanks to the various Government initiatives, Holsters says that the awareness levels among clients with respect to energy conservation have increased. “Private sector clients are now more open to energy services. They understand that more than costs, in the long run, these services are actually a saving for the organization,” he adds. And most clients prefer to go for the contracts that provide guaranteed savings options, “In most of these contracts we achieve easily 15 per cent savings by fine tuning operational settings and maintaining the installations correctly. People are yet to open up to cost sharing and retrofitting options as there is still a lack of awareness on how investing in retrofitting projects can also give them returns and conserve energy at the same time,” he adds.
When it comes to choosing a medium for cutting energy consumption and boosting efficiency in a facility, CBFM always chooses the most simple and effective operational method, i.e. to understand the installations and operate and maintain them correctly. These simple measures, Holsters says can lead up to 30 per cent of utility savings for a company. While retrofitting is a bigger challenge requiring CAPEX investment, Holsters points out that convincing the clients of the long-term benefits is the difficult part. “Independent variables like for example the seasonal impact on a facility can be a challenge to explain to people with a more financial background. Project savings may indeed vary as a building gets exposed to varying temperatures other than the baseline data affecting the energy savings. These baseline adjustments are agreed in what we call the Measurement & Verification Plan (M&V) and standardized explains Holsters, who adds that there are few international protocols (e.g. IPMVP protocol) that will guide you and ensure a clear communication and trust between the ESCO and the client.
And it is this trust and communication that is a key factor for a successful Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs). “A good relationship with a client, a partnership with mutual trust, is very important. All stakeholders need to understand what an EPC is about and how we will go about helping them save energy. Only if these factors are in place will there be a success story at the end,” he adds.
Impact of Technology
Digitalization has certainly had an impact on energy management. However, Holsters points out that while solutions like machine learning systems and SMART monitoring devices are just starting to have an impact on the market today; people are yet to get educated about the newer technologies entering the market. “There is no point in simply introducing a new innovation if the people don’t know how to handle it correctly,” he adds.
At CBFM, Holsters says that their best technology is their talent and their access to group owned energy software platforms, R&D department and energy saving devices. “While using a particular sort of technology or innovation at a facility depends on the building, the payback period the client is allowing for investment, I believe, it’s the talented team at CBFM that makes the difference for our clients,” he adds. They do have solutions like quantum chillers, airco savers, water savers, effective and affordable innovations, building automation, machine learning systems, Intelligent BMS integration, energy management software and monitoring, relamping solutions, retrofitting, ASHRAE auditing, ISO 50001 consultancy and implementation, and many more.
In Masdar, however, CBFM haven’t implemented any new technology so far. They are currently generating savings just through the fine tuning of the systems for more operational efficiency, “The Masdar project is a completely sustainable city on its own. At Masdar one is managing an entire city, not just a building, so the biggest challenge to commence with was to create a baseline for energy management. This is why our first focus was to implement an ISO 50001 certified energy management system (EnMS), enabling us to set clear targets and track performance in a transparent way, before we start thinking about moving into CAPEX investments. We have analyzed and mapped how the energy is used, and implemented a rigid Operational Control Plan as part of the EnMS which is linked to our CAFM system for daily tracking and monitoring of the energy action points (EnMAP), i.e. tweaking up the temperatures in corridors and offices, adapted indoor air quality settings, delta T optimization etc.” he adds.
Is there something lacking in the market?
While the awareness factor has increased in the GCC market, Holsters says that there is still so much more that people need to be aware of. “The good part is that I don’t think there is not so much ‘lacking’, we see an increase in genuine interest from all parties to get energy management up and running in the last few years and a decrease in simply “green washing” type of strategies. However, I do feel that the sustainability message still has to spread significantly, creating energy awareness within organizations and individuals will make them realize the use of utilities should be rationalized and not end by just simply paying the bills. With more education, awareness and people talking about sustainability this will rapidly see a change,” he adds.
CBFM receives ISO 50001 Energy Management System certification at Masdar City
CBFM has been awarded the ISO 50001:2011 Energy Management System (EnMS) certification for the provision of facilities management services at Masdar City. The EnMS framework ensures energy management activities are carried out in a systematic manner to improve energy performance. Objectives and targets are regularly set and reviewed to drive year on year energy performance improvement for Masdar City.
“We have chosen to integrate the EnMS into our CAFM system to assure ourselves of a standardised use, management and monitoring of utility consumptions and carbon emissions,” explained Bart Holsters, Operations Manager, CBFM. “Moreover, this integration with our CAFM platform enables us to manage, share and benchmark energy conservation measures (ECMs) in a centralised manner which, in turn empowers knowledge sharing across our organisation.”
The EnMS includes the understanding of the premises efficiency and benchmarking, and setting objectives and targets to improve energy performance. Opportunities are identified and managed through the CAFM system, whilst an operational control plan which includes operational and management best practices is created. Annual energy audits are carried out, and all employees receive the required energy management awareness training to ensure consistency throughout the company. “Implementing and obtaining the ISO50001 certification for our developed EnMS was a very important step within Cofely Besix FM’s overall sustainability programme,” added Holsters.
“We are very pleased with this achievement which will help us to further improve on our operational efficiency service delivery models and also to continuously reduce carbon emissions and utility expenditures within our operation.” “In partnership with Masdar City, we have proven that an energy management system a client might already have in place can be shaped easily into a standardized ISO50001 EnMS model. Ultimately our goal is to make sure energy efficiency becomes a mandatory target, whilst preserving our precious environment,” concluded Holsters.
CBFM was initially awarded the 3-year facilities management contract for Masdar City in January 2017. The scope of services includes full hard, soft and civil facility management services including operations and maintenance of electrical systems, HVAC and ventilation systems, potable water, fire detection systems, life-safety critical systems, elevators, BMS, low voltage systems and civil infrastructure work.
“At CBFM, we regard energy consumption as a business cost, like all other business costs,” explained Andre Mars, Quality Health Safety & Environment Manager of Cofely Besix Facility Management. “Being certified to ISO 50001 standards, will not only yield benefits in terms of cost reduction to us as a business, but it also generates additional gains for our clients through energy savings, as we continually monitor their energy consumption and resolve anomalies that may cause energy waste.” Masdar City, one of the world’s most sustainable urban communities, is a rapidly growing cleantech cluster, business freezone and residential neighbourhood containing one of the largest groups of low-carbon buildings in the world.
“The application of sustainable best practice is at the heart of Masdar City’s vision, from planning and design through to construction and operations, and it is essential that our suppliers have the same philosophy,” said Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, Executive Director of Sustainability and Brand at Masdar. “We welcome the award of this certification, which demonstrates the robustness of energy management activities at Masdar City, as well as reflecting our commitment to constantly improving energy performance.” Masdar City is currently experiencing the most rapid development in its history. More than 176,000 square metres of completed buildings are fully leased and occupied, while a further 740,000 square metres of projects at Masdar City have firm development agreements in place, including schools, offices, hotels, shops, restaurants and private homes.
The community is currently home to approximately 500 registered companies and organisations, including the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Siemens, GE, Lockheed Martin, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Schneider Electric.