We’ve all experienced a working environment that was initially at a comfortable temperature. However, after as little as 1-2 years, it became increasingly uncomfortable. Have you ever wondered why?
If you are a budget holder, have you experienced increased energy usage, while your heating/cooling seems less effective?
Everyone has their own ‘pet’ reason; it’s climate change, a bad winter, a hot summer, blame the manager, heating/cooling systems not working properly, etc..
The one cause that towers above all others, is a failure in what I call ‘Smooth Running.’
Smooth Running; to Maintain a Comfortable Temperature
We continually prepare, manage and adapt in every aspect of our lives:
- For that shiny new car of yours, would you miss a service?
- If you are a golfer, would you use the same clubs on every hole?
- Now, I’m a runner and a cyclist. I know that I have to adapt my style, gears and speed appropriate to the changes in terrain, traffic, surface, etc..
So, why don’t we do the same for our working environment?
Over the months/years, you have changed-out, or moved partitions, racks of cabinets, machinery, even re-organised your whole office layout. Do you also adjust your heating system controls to fully adapt to the changes as they occur?
Well if you haven’t, and many don’t, you should.
Continually adapting your heating controls to maintain a comfortable temperature in your working environment, is what I call Smooth Running.
Planning For Efficiency and Sustainability
Any efficient and effectively heated, or cooled environment, was built to a plan. The heating/cooling delivery was designed for the; usage of the environment, its structure, personnel, internal layout and many other factors. When things change inside, even outside, the convection flows and radiated effects change. . Those changes affect the people within and they react when there is no longer a comfortable temperature. For those feeling:
- the cold, the heating is cranked up, or added heating is used; your costs rise as a result.
- too warm, the windows are opened, or the A/c is cranked up; your costs further rise as a result.
Without continuous commissioning of your heating controls, your systems start to decline in efficiency. An interesting report from BSRIA talks to the need for continuous commissioning.
Here’s an interesting survey from Business Insider about the temperature levels of comfort in their offices (also the differences each of the sexes feel). While not scientific, it is a common experience. Another similar report from the BBC here, also supports this view.
Let’s take a Couple of Examples
Multi-Function Office Building
An office building had different departments working different hours. The heating system was balanced and controlled to offer a comfortable temperature environment in the offices, in each of the levels (occupied and unoccupied).
Over the years, these departments changed in size, location and layout. The offices also accommodated different technologies and services.
Everyone was focused on the move and construction needs. With the changes, the heating system was actually adjusted, but only to keep it operational. Proper re-commissioning to meet the new working times and environments was either ignored, or overlooked.
The result was that the occupants just managed as best they could.
Heating costs grew and management eventually had to investigate. The reason was soon apparent, the heating control settings were wrong for the new environment(s). New simple control systems were put in place to make any future move simpler, without staff and budget pain.
Just Doing What Was Asked
A business installed new radiators and pumps and needed eTRVs to give them the best local heating control. All was set up, times and temperature settings were programmed for the different needs of the building over the year. This was summer, the heating was off.
However, before the customer would accept the project, the system had to be tested in winter mode. The contractor was briefed to over-ride and undo all the setup work.
Will the contractor put the settings back to as per the specification? No. So, the savings of a few £s cost them time, money and uncomfortable staff.
So Let’s Just Do It!
Buildings are not inert. They are akin to a living organism that grows, adapts and changes over time. Continuous commissioning and re-commissioning of heating and cooling system controls is clearly a necessity for efficient ongoing operation.
Everyone gets the principle of ensuring heating/cooling systems are always operating at optimum efficiency. However, who should pay? Is this a part of an office move budget, ongoing budget, or a building budget?
With continuous commissioning, the cost and energy savings are clear. Often, it does not matter where the budget responsibility lies. Since most of this work as a fast ROI/Payback, whoever pays, sees a fast repayment.
Keeping It Simple
Nowadays control systems can be simple enough to allow even the most basic of trained staff to operate and manage. There does not need to be a massive amount of cost in maintaining the Smooth Running of systems.
Get the right simple control systems in place, with the necessary training. This means you can manage change – simply. You can be more in control of your business costs.
Of course you are going to need some expert help in continuous commissioning of your heating systems, but not as often as before.
Without investing a lot of money, fine-tuning for Smooth Running can stop you wasting energy and ACTUALLY save costs. As always, don’t forget the comfort of that workforce whose comfort means best productivity.
Chalmor offers complete Retrofit Heating Control Solutions that can help you maintain the best comfort at the lowest cost.
Contact us at: https://www.chalmor.co.uk/contact/