How effective data management can drive a successful energy strategy

EXCLUSIVE: Data monitoring technologies are an "invaluable" tool for firms seeking to drive energy efficiency, cut costs and enhance sustainability strategies, an expert panel recently concluded.

Energy experts from Aggregate Industries and Oxford University recently took part in a live, interactive webinar which explored how businesses can deliver the smart grid of the future, today.

The webinar, hosted in association with EnerNOC, an Enel Group Company, specifically explored how clean technologies and innovations such as demand response and data monitoring can drive efficiency and cut costs.


Heavy building materials firm Aggregate Industries was an early adopter of demand response measures, which utilise its assets to help the national grid to balance supply and demand. Since 2013, the firm has applied firm frequency response (FFR) services to 133 bitumen tanks at 42 of its UK asphalt plants, providing 4MW of real-time flexible capacity to the grid in the process. Through better management of assets, the move has led to an energy consumption of reduction 350,000kWh per year and saved 50,000 tonnes of CO2 over five years.

In addition to a reduced environmental impact, Aggregate’s energy manager Richard Eaton explained in his webinar presentation that the associated real-time data has proved “invaluable” in improving the performance of the bitumen tanks, and in turn, driving new revenue streams.

“We very much rely on that data, both in terms of forecasting and trends analysis, and therefore identifying energy efficiency opportunities,” Eaton said. “Where we have second-by-second metering on our bitumen tanks, understanding the behaviour of our assets much better has realised savings and been invaluable.”

Aggregate’s portfolio has grown significantly in the 18 months since Eaton arrived in the role, with the acquisition of new sites across the UK. Eaton admitted that submetering across the estate has failed to keep up with the growth of the business, and as a result, Aggregate will soon launch a new utility metering project across the business to improve the granularity of data.

Solving the university challenge

The Aggregate Industries case study illustrates that organisations with large estates can benefit hugely from an effective data management strategy. This has also been the case for Oxford University, which has seen total emissions fall by 5% since 2005 despite its estate growing by one-third (33%) during the same period.

A successful carbon reduction strategy has been driven by a detailed metering system installed across the 400 buildings on the University’s estate. Thousands of half-hour meters placed into a user interface system enable users such as building and project managers to analyse the energy performance of each structure.

Data software revealed that a huge 76% of the University’s carbon emissions derive from labs and equipment in the science buildings on its main campus. As such, the organisation’s energy management team has been able to identify a range of energy efficiency measures that have saved vast amounts of money and carbon, while delivering much-needed maintenance improvements.

Simple timeclock changes and Air Handling Unit adjustments have proved useful solutions, as has the optimisation of building managements systems (BMS) at 25 buildings. For instance, optimisation enabled the Henry Welcome Building for Molecular Physiology to save 35.5 tonnes of CO2 and £6,395 last year.

During the webinar, Oxford University’s carbon reduction programme manager Lucinda Lay explained that the monitoring system has been well-received by the organisation’s buildings managers, who are regularly challenged on cost reductions by the University’s senior management team.

“The building managers have been really pleased because it has reduced the costs for their department, and it means the buildings are working better for them as well,” she said.

“By finding mechanical issues, we are able to bring the buildings back up to scratch and make sure they are operating properly. We have since found opportunities for installing extra pieces of kit like variable speed drives and new motors and pumps, which will increase the efficiency of the buildings.”

Visualising data 

Also presenting was EnerNOC’s technical programme partner John Gallagher, who commented on the scope for businesses to engage colleagues with data management technologies to drive cost and energy reductions.

As part of EnerNOC’s data monitoring software, the business takes into account aspects such as onsite BMS and metering from different data points, and displays them in a simplistic manner to quantify the impacts that day-to-day employee decisions have on the company’s financial performance.

“There’s always scope for improvement in that area,” Gallagher said. “It goes back to a very practical level of how employees are being given that data and how it is being shared with them in terms of the performance of various sites and different types of businesses with a group.

“Visualising that data by showing colleagues the impact on costs and budget can be a very effective way of bringing employees on board.”

This edie webinar was recorded on 20 March 2018. The full webinar session can be viewed on-demand here.

George Ogleby

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