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14. Novem­ber 2018

Minor chan­ges with major effects

Through con­si­stent data collec­tion and ana­ly­sis, the Swiss Prime Site spe­cia­lists are dis­co­vering secu­re and effi­ci­ent pathways to ener­gy opti­mi­sa­ti­on. This is saving ener­gy, emis­si­ons and costs even in the short term.

The let­ter we all get once a year detail­ing «ancil­la­ry cost accounts» is anything but ancil­la­ry for Swiss Prime Site Immo­bi­li­en. It doesn’t just pre­sent signi­fi­cant costs for ten­ants or the com­pa­ny its­elf, it also reflects the envi­ron­men­tal impact, which is of gre­at signi­fi­can­ce to Swiss Prime Site in the con­text of its sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty stra­te­gy. The group com­pa­ny Win­ca­sa has the­re­fo­re been docu­men­ting the ener­gy data of its buil­dings in minu­te detail sin­ce 2012. Cut­ting-edge ana­ly­sis high­lights poten­ti­al for impro­ve­ments that are then addres­sed using tar­ge­ted stra­te­gies. We met with Jan Rüegg, Sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty Pro­ject Mana­ger at Win­ca­sa, and dis­cus­sed mea­su­re­ment points, quick checks and low-han­ging fruit.

Almost ever­yo­ne has pro­bab­ly under­ta­ken some kind of ener­gy opti­mi­sa­ti­on on a small sca­le. Instal­ling a timer on the bathroom hea­ting at home, for examp­le, so that it doesn’t run all day but only when nee­ded. It’s always worth saving a bit of money and it keeps our envi­ron­men­tal con­sci­ence clear. The­se kinds of impro­ve­ments are part of Jan Rüegg’s job – except on a some­what lar­ger sca­le. The Sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty Pro­ject Mana­ger ana­ly­ses the ener­gy data of who­le buil­dings and, tog­e­ther with the ener­gy engi­neer, eva­lua­tes the opti­mi­sa­ti­on poten­ti­al on site. They then work tog­e­ther to try and lower the ener­gy usa­ge by chan­ging the con­trol para­me­ters.

One par­ti­cu­lar buil­ding whe­re this has pro­ved extre­me­ly effec­tive and yiel­ded very high results in rela­ti­on to the invest­ment is in Otel­fin­gen. Right in front of the sta­ti­on. Which is con­ve­ni­ent, as the sus­tai­na­bi­li­ty expert – of cour­se – tra­vels by train.

Mr Rüegg, why are we mee­ting in this indu­stri­al buil­ding that ser­ves as a wareh­ouse and logi­stics cent­re for cli­ents such as Jel­mo­li?
This is one of our show­pie­ces. It demon­stra­tes well what the Swiss Prime Site Immo­bi­li­en EC/BO pro­ject can achie­ve. We were able to signi­fi­cant­ly redu­ce ener­gy usa­ge here despi­te old faci­li­ties and limi­ted opti­ons for inter­ven­ti­on. Which, of cour­se, has a posi­ti­ve effect on hea­ting costs and redu­ces the envi­ron­men­tal impact.

What does EC/BO stand for?
Ener­gy con­trol­ling and busi­ness opti­mi­sa­ti­on. The first step is to docu­ment the ener­gy usa­ge of a pro­per­ty and then ana­ly­se this with the ener­gy engi­neer to see the poten­ti­al to redu­ce con­sump­ti­on. The second step is busi­ness opti­mi­sa­ti­on. This means making adjust­ments to the con­trol para­me­ters. We might chan­ge the hea­ting times or redu­ce the flow tem­pe­ra­tu­re, for examp­le. Light­ing, ven­ti­la­ti­on and the use of air con­di­tio­ning are also ana­ly­sed and adju­sted.

The ener­gy values are saved to a ser­ver at 15-minu­te inter­vals and can then be acces­sed by the ener­gy con­trol system.

What about sealing the win­dows or instal­ling a new hea­ting system? Is that part of busi­ness opti­mi­sa­ti­on?
No. Busi­ness opti­mi­sa­ti­on doesn’t inclu­de con­struc­tion mea­su­res – except may­be chan­ging small pumps or vents. The aim of busi­ness opti­mi­sa­ti­on is gene­ral­ly to achie­ve the grea­test pos­si­ble reduc­tion in con­sump­ti­on with the mini­mum pos­si­ble effort. The com­bi­na­ti­on of many small adjust­ments can have a huge posi­ti­ve impact.

It’s all about «simp­le goals» or «low-han­ging fruit» that Win­ca­sa aims to achie­ve – or pick – on Swiss Prime Site Immobilien’s behalf. Reduc­tions in con­sump­ti­on that are easy to imple­ment and have an imme­dia­te­ly per­cep­ti­ble impact on usa­ge and cost. The gui­de­li­ne is that all invest­ments should pay off wit­hin two years. Busi­ness opti­mi­sa­ti­on can usual­ly save 10% or even 25%, alt­hough the­se num­bers depend hea­vi­ly on the buil­ding, its age, size and use. Whe­ther a buil­ding is used for accom­mo­da­ti­on, offices or – as here in Otel­fin­gen – for indu­stri­al pur­po­ses makes a key dif­fe­rence when it comes to adju­sting the hea­ting, air con­di­tio­ning and light­ing.

But to know whe­re to start, first you need data. How much ener­gy does the buil­ding use? What do the elec­tri­ci­ty, water and coo­ling meters show? This is all recor­ded by a meter box with various inter­faces for dif­fe­rent meters or a direct con­nec­tion to the building’s con­trol system. The ener­gy values are saved to a ser­ver at 15-minu­te inter­vals and can then be acces­sed by the ener­gy con­trol system. Or the data is collec­ted manu­al­ly. But the eva­lua­ti­on is always per­for­med by tech­no­lo­gy and by experts at Win­ca­sa. Like Jan Rüegg.

Mr Rüegg, what do you do with all the num­bers the system pro­du­ces?
Ana­ly­se them. At the end of the year, we look at all the mea­su­re­ments that have been taken. How have they deve­lo­ped in com­pa­ri­son with the pre­vious year? Are the­re out­liers? And if so, what are the rea­sons? If a par­ti­cu­lar mea­su­re­ment dif­fers from the pre­vious year by more than 20%, the system gives us an auto­ma­tic warning. Then we obvious­ly take a clo­ser look.

So that means you need a who­le year to know whe­re the pro­per­ty stands in terms of con­sump­ti­on, and then ano­t­her year to be able to com­pa­re.
Exact­ly. You can opti­mi­se after a year and, after the second year, you see what dif­fe­rence it made. This helps you build a good basis for adjust­ments. We also per­form repeated spot checks in the mean­ti­me. For qua­li­ty manage­ment pur­po­ses and to ensu­re that all the values are being recor­ded. We also car­ry out an on-site check for every buil­ding, during which an ener­gy engi­neer spends one or two days inspec­ting ever­ything in detail, imple­men­ting impro­ve­ments direct­ly and docu­men­ting them in their report. After a year, we can see what effect the­se mea­su­res had.

So after a maxi­mum of three years, the buil­ding has been opti­mi­sed and the pro­ject has been com­ple­ted for that loca­ti­on?
Not at all. We con­ti­nue to moni­tor. This makes sure that the opti­mi­sed values stay con­stant, even when reno­va­tions are under­ta­ken or new equip­ment is instal­led. Con­sump­ti­on often increa­ses again when this hap­pens and needs to be read­ju­sted.

So it’s a long-term pro­ject that shows short-term results. In 2012, Swiss Prime Site Immo­bi­li­en star­ted record­ing its ener­gy con­sump­ti­on and quick­ly opti­mi­sing its buil­dings. The goal is for all exi­sting pro­per­ties to be moni­to­red auto­ma­ti­cal­ly by 2019 so that the com­pa­ny can ope­ra­te even more pre­cise­ly and effec­tively. Ongo­ing con­struc­tion pro­jects will also be imple­men­ted with auto­ma­tic ener­gy data docu­men­ta­ti­on.

Behind all the­se efforts lies a major aim: to redu­ce CO2 emis­si­ons and con­tri­bu­te to the United Nati­ons’ two-degree tar­get. The pro­ject pro­vi­des the basis for this with the recor­ded ener­gy data.

Acting sus­tainab­le doesn’t just mean being envi­ron­ment­al­ly friend­ly, it means being con­si­stent, effec­tive and deter­mi­ned.

Mr Rüegg, Swiss Prime Site Immo­bi­li­en intro­du­ced the EC/BO pro­ject six years ago. How has the col­la­bo­ra­ti­on worked bet­ween the various par­ties so far?
For the first five years, Win­ca­sa was more of a coor­di­na­tor bet­ween the owner – Swiss Prime Site Immo­bi­li­en – and the system pro­vi­der who car­ri­ed out the mea­su­re­ments on site. Now we hand­le a lar­ge part of the ana­ly­sis work. This means that we work even more clo­se­ly with the respon­si­ble indi­vi­du­als at Swiss Prime Site Immo­bi­li­en. Today, our main respon­si­bi­li­ty is main­tai­ning the level of qua­li­ty we have achie­ved thus far and increa­sing it fur­ther.

More than half of the Swiss Prime Site port­fo­lio has alrea­dy been asses­sed. Rüegg and his team were able to signi­fi­cant­ly increa­se the ener­gy effi­ci­en­cy of many of the­se buil­dings. But that doesn’t mean they can sit back and relax. Acting sus­tainab­le doesn’t just mean being envi­ron­ment­al­ly friend­ly, it means being con­si­stent, effec­tive and deter­mi­ned. Even har­ve­sting «low-han­ging fruit» requi­res a lot of per­se­ver­an­ce.