Getting to grips with energy management
Any organisation seeking to reduce its carbon emissions should first take a look at its building energy management systems, if it's to cope in an increasingly challenging energy environment.
This is according to Dimension Data's business solutions manager, Graham Lovell Greene, who will speak on energy management in buildings at the Green Business Seminar, as part of the Sustainability Week conference.
“Owners and tenants of buildings are under mounting pressure to cut their energy usage and reduce carbon emissions,” says Greene. “They are faced with the prospect of higher utility prices and ever more stringent legislation, not to mention public and stakeholder demands that they show high standards of corporate social responsibility.”
The first priority for hard-pressed energy and facilities managers, he argues, is to focus on the areas where large energy savings can be made quickly and easily - which often means looking at building energy management.
“The principal role of a building energy management system is to regulate and monitor heating, ventilation and air conditioning - and often lighting, too,” says Greene. “By applying a range of control and monitoring routines - both simple and sophisticated - it is capable of operating the building services in strict accordance with demand, thereby avoiding unnecessary use of energy.”
Greene adds that IT is playing an increasingly important role in managing energy, in both businesses and individuals' private lives. “Where hardware is concerned, energy-efficient desktop PCs, thin-client architectures and data centre hardware offer answers, as do energy supply and cooling systems. In the software and service area, there is significant potential in virtualisation, in solutions for dynamic capacity management and data centre planning, and in storage-system offshoring.”
This forms part of a wider trend that sees companies strengthening their commitment to sustainability, as the benefits become more apparent, says Greene. “Just as natural resources are becoming scarce and costly, customers, employees and investors are increasingly environmentally-conscious. Championing sustainability allows businesses to align with their missions and engage customers on a more meaningful level.”
His sentiment is echoed by Gordon Brown, CEO of media company Alive2green, which is organising Sustainability Week. The event, taking place from 25 to 29 July, at the Sandton Convention Centre, is an extension of the Green Building Conference and Exhibition that Alive2green hosts annually. Brown says the extended programme is aimed at creating a more integrated dialogue on sustainability.
“There is a level of interconnectedness between various sectors and if we are to come to any meaningful conclusions and solutions about the sustainability issues within each sector, we need to acknowledge the way in which these various industries affect one another.”
In addition to the green building event, Alive2green has introduced conferences on energy, water, waste and transport, which run in series. This year, the company decided to run these in parallel, adjacent to one larger exhibition.
Brown says sustainability for businesses in SA has never been more important. “Sustainability, as it affects business, is about long-term thinking, competitiveness and differentiation. In tough economic times, these qualities can mean the difference between success and failure.
“One of the most profound insights Sustainability Week is likely to demonstrate is that sustainability has become a common focus among the country's best companies.”