Energy Efficiency & Conservation advocate, Tech enthusiast, Elodie is passionate about innovation & IOT applied to energy. She regularly gives lectures and shares her experience on equipment control, innovation applied to energy, machine learning technologies, electricity markets, HVAC systems, solar PV… She is volunteering at The Matcha Initiative as Category Leader for Energy & Electricity solutions.
Elodie is Head of Sales at BeeBryte, a provider of innovative remote operation & maintenance services (O&M) for heating-cooling systems (HVAC-R) in commercial buildings and factories.
Since I was little, I have always been passionate about nature and the impact we may have on it as a species. Energy is everywhere and is a significant part of that impact. First interested in renewable energies I slowly transitioned to the energy efficiency sector - after all, the cleanest energy is the one we do not consume! Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems represent on average 40% of a building consumption - totalling to 16% of worldwide consumed electricity! That seemed like a good place to start!
Trained as an IT and automation engineer from the school of water, energy and environment, it was a natural step for me to onboard a company like BeeBryte who uses a mix of IoT, automation and data science to achieve energy reductions.
Indeed, BeeBryte improves buildings’ energy efficiency and users’ comfort using AI prediction and patented technology, providing an IoT Gateway along with a software-as-a-service to optimise energy consumption of commercial and industrial buildings. It uses weather forecast, building occupancy and activity to automatically and dynamically control air-conditioning systems to make them more efficient. Artificial intelligence is allowing us to grasp all the complexity of the systems while optimising the comfort and reducing the costs.
Another thing that appeals to me in this approach is that it aims at making existing systems more energy friendly. Too many energy efficiency strategies today consist in just buying brand new equipment - newer technology means better efficiency. It doesn't always make sense, environmentally speaking to change the whole system.
Energy Efficiency corresponds to a reduction of the energy consumption of a system for a given output/production. Energy Conservation is a reduction of the energy consumption through - for instance - a better management of the output. To take an example, changing a lightbulb with LED is a typical Energy Efficiency measure, but turning off the light when it is not needed is an Energy Conservation measure. Both are important aspects of energy reduction strategies, and a balance is important for an effective program.
Focusing purely on Energy Efficiency may create a bias in the approach and measurement. Indeed, for some machines - and HVAC are part of those - you may achieve a better efficiency ratio with a higher output. For HVAC we are looking at the Coefficient of Performance (or COP) which measures - in Asia - the amount of electricity (kWh) needed to produce one unit of cold (measured in Refrigerant Ton or RT). If purely looking at this COP as a measure of performance - one may be tempted to increase the output, and the amount of cold produced (or cooling load) for a better efficiency - even though this may lead to more electricity consumed overall.
Energy Efficiency measures are primordial, but they cannot be taken as sole metrics and measurement of how well an equipment, a building is faring on this approach. In Singapore - and the region in general, there is still today a bias towards these metrics, and it is important to ensure Energy Conservation has its place as well.
As such, the most common sources of energy waste in HVAC systems are due to lack of implementation of Energy Conservation Strategies. One of the reasons for that is that HVAC equipment and the automation systems controlling them operate on fixed setpoints. To ensure that the system is always delivering at least the amount of cold required, it is set for the worst-case scenario: very hot weather and a fully occupied facility. Based on this, in any other configuration (colder weather and/or less people) the system is delivering too much cold and creating a potentially uncomfortable temperature, on top of wasting energy - and this is particularly flagrant when it starts raining for instance.
For more info: Energy Conservation vs. Energy Efficiency
It is definitely quite new in the HVAC sector. There is a lot of education required on the concept and the type of optimization strategies that can be applied for energy conservation and their success!
The main questions and doubts that we are faced with are the following:
IoT and data science in general allow energy management to go one step further and include energy conservation strategies even for systems as complex as HVAC.
Among other things they allow to:
(i) capture more relevant data to fuel the analysis,
(ii) analyse more complex data sets and understand correlations for more efficient actions taken and
(iii) analyse larger datasets.
This last point is especially important in order to apply energy conservation measures on HVAC systems as such strategies usually apply to air side/terminal equipment which are in much larger numbers than the production side equipment.
The idea is really to make things as simple as possible for customers and allow them to embark confidently in such projects. The objective after all is to save as much energy as possible.
It is not uncommon in the energy efficiency sector to operate on such a model. Traditionally Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) invested in all equipment to be replaced, installed (sometimes a couple of hundred thousand dollars) and paid themselves out of the savings for 5, 10, sometimes even 15 years.
We wanted to make things a bit simpler and more flexible for our customers. We do cover for any installation costs as well - but as we are much lighter in terms of hardware deployment and do not replace any equipment, we can afford to have a minimum duration for our contracts of only 2 years, and make it compatible with other energy reduction initiatives.
First of all, in Singapore - like in most developed countries, exists an electricity market on which electricity generators sell electricity to electricity retailers who in turn sell it to consumers. This market is very much like a financial market as it is driven by supply and demand to establish its rate. In Singapore, prices on the electricity market (USEP) vary every 30 minutes. It is the role of the retailer to hedge that risk and propose a packaged offer at a fixed/flat rate to consumers large and small.
Historically, Singapore has always had the capacity to produce much more than it would consume hence driving the prices on the electricity market down. However, several factors have changed that trend recently:
Not only are prices going up on average, but we also see significant variations between the 30-min time steps. For instance, on Monday 25th of April 2022 the average price was 0.92$/kWh with a minimum of 0.18$/kWh and a maximum of 4.25$/kWh at 5pm. This makes it the 11th most expensive week day since the creation of this electricity market in 2003.
Some companies have already started feeling this increase in rate… and there is a very low chance that it gets better in the future - at least in Singapore. With its high dependency on natural gas - still fossil fuel and destined to be in a shortage - and where only solar and waste to energy can be deployed as more sustainable energy sources but still couldn’t cover all of Singapore’s energy requirements, the price of electricity will tend to go up. With a higher penetration of solar, and potentially imported renewable energy from Malaysia through cable could help rebalance the scales, even though intermittent sources like PV tend to create more variations between the 30min time steps as it brings the average down. But that would mean that Singapore would accept being dependent on Malaysia for electricity as well…
All in all, another reason to aim to reduce our electricity consumption!
Green Building Certifications (like LEED or GreenMark) aim to rate and recognize buildings in their effort to be more sustainable. Not only do they allow sustainable buildings a way to objectively advertise and showcase their efforts, they also help buildings on their way to be more sustainable to choose their battles and help them prioritise and deploy relevant actions.
The GreenMark certification (Singapore's green building certification) has indeed been updated in the second half of 2021 in order to:
As far as energy is concerned, this new scheme moves away from the purely energy efficiency bias and looks at energy reduction measures more globally putting in the centre the Energy Intensity Unit (EUI in kWh/sqm/year) which can account for both Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation measures and pushing the industry to get out of its comfort zone to achieve better.
With the progress in technology, it is important for all green building certification to regularly set more ambitious targets and challenge their metrics.
For more info on this new scheme, see here.
Making a difference, knowing that my actions, on a daily basis, help some of our customers to save up to 1,000tons of CO2 annually, and generally pushing the industry in the right direction. Being able to work for a company whose objectives are completely aligned with my personal beliefs is extremely important for me.
I’d be happy to help you organise and prioritise your energy strategy, help you navigate within your organisation and use the right arguments to convince the different stakeholders, as well as share on more general sustainability practises we’ve put in place in our (small) office.
Elodie kindly accepts to answer your questions.
If you need additional insights, you can send her a message.
Energy efficiency & Energy Conservation
Green the office > Energy Management
Energy & Electricity