A new year presents plenty of opportunities for development, not just for ourselves, but also for the good of the planet. As we go into another quiet spell at the start of 2021, there is an ideal opportunity to implement key operational improvements to buildings.
According to the last UK Government Building Energy Efficiency Survey  undertaken in 2016, approximately 67% of energy consumption in commercial assets was used to provide lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water. Therefore, substantial potential for savings could be achieved through basic optimisation of these components.
Often low cost and easily implementable, operational optimisations can have a significant impact without the need for substantial investment. EVORA therefore presents a brief look into the top 5 quick wins for energy optimisation in 2021 – some further new years resolutions if you will.
1. Time for a change
Returning to business as usual at workplaces after an eventful 2020 presents an opportunity for optimising asset timing controls and setting clear standards. Knowing when to start up HVACs or equipment that keeps a building functional can help increase overall efficiency.
Of course, every building is different, and the day-to-day demands can vary massively, but implementing appropriate timings not only cuts unnecessary wastage with reduced hours or lower occupancy, but allows for identification of anomalies when something goes awry. It can even shape future energy use strategies as shown below if communicated to occupants properly.
An example in Figure 1 from Resource Efficient Scotland  displays a heating profile for a property where gradually phasing the operations of heating equipment can maintain a suitable temperature throughout the whole day. This is opposed to a continuous block of consumption from open to close. Therefore, savings can be made without impacting on comfort levels by correctly identifying the timings when heating can be switched on and phased out.
Tenant engagement is a powerful tool here as well, and communication with tenants that are reopening in 2021 will be key to an evolving timing control strategy as people head back to their desks, as well as keeping them consistent.
2. Setting goals
An efficient HVAC system provides good temperature and environmental conditions while using the minimum amount of energy to condition a space, however this is just the first step for buildings.
Making sure building set points are clear, well communicated and kept consistent is an important factor, as various building users will have different preferences for optimal temperatures. But to operate efficiently simple consistent set points are key. By engaging tenants and communicating common building set points, any expectations can be managed, and service levels agreed. Consistency in set points also helps support major energy saving actions such as fresh air cooling in the winter.
3. Not so tight
Implementing a temperature ‘dead band’ is another useful tool to help reduce consumption as we return to places of work, as often energy is wasted due to simultaneous heating and cooling systems competing to maintain temperature set points.
A dead band is essentially a ‘comfort zone’ where the system for heating and cooling can be relaxed. For example, a 3-4°C dead band around a setpoint of 20°C produces a temperature zone preventing the HVAC system from bouncing quickly between heating and cooling, meeting the set temperature until a significant change is required. Not only does this reduce the strain on HVAC equipment, but also keeps occupants happy and increase energy savings. It also has the added benefit of increasing the lifespan of equipment, as demand is far lower for the long run.
An illustration of a dead band can be found below in Figure 2.
4. What happens after dark?
Carefully scrutinising energy loads outside of office hours and identifying when and why consumption is occurring is another strong technique to reduce unwanted energy consumption. Sometimes equipment is left on overnight after a change to business hours and it all adds up in the grand scheme of things. Arranging engineers to stay behind and take note of what is running in the small hours and breaking it down by landlord or tenant consuming equipment provides opportunities for engagement to reduce load and make note of what is essential.
Furthermore, identifying what key equipment is operating out of hours can also help shape strategies for future reductions in consumption. If key operations can be reduced over time in terms of run time or frequency, baseload too can be gradually lowered to a new target, which year on year can be improved upon. The best results for this type of work are supported by active management and data analysis, something that EVORA employs in its Monitoring and Target (M&T) service line.
As we head back to the office, EVORA would recommend investigating baseloads over the periods of low occupation and aim to maintain or improve on them as occupancy returns in 2021.
5. Seasonal strategies
Seasonality is another factor that should be considered. Formulating effective plans for energy reduction crucially relies on how they are implemented on an ongoing and dynamic basis over the course of the year. This includes engaging with tenants and understanding that the indoor temperature will fluctuate instead of trying to achieve a single temperature set point all year. This will support the efficient operation of the plant by optimising the indoor temperature to the external environment. Similar seasonal strategies for external and car park lighting can also be implemented for best practice, changing timed controls to suit the needs of occupants, but also to reduce consumption.
Supporting you through 2021
Implementing these quick wins as well as numerous other strategies to lower energy consumption may require an extra helping hand, as uncertainty remains around heading back to workplaces. EVORA Global has an expert Building Optimisation Team of engineers and consultants who are experienced in energy management and building optimisation, and regardless of the turbulent times we are always here to advise and guide towards a sustainable future for real estate.
For more information on the services provided by the Building Optimisation Team, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
 Building Energy Efficiency Survey (BEES), 2016
 How to save money and energy on space heating – Advice and support for organisations in Scotland, Resource Efficient Scotland, 2015
 Heating, ventilation and air conditioning – Saving energy without compromising comfort, Carbon Trust, 2011