There are also indirect benefits. Certification enhances the environmental reputation of an organisation with customers, shareholders and the public at large. Finally, it also boosts the organisation’s competitive position – already most tender pre-qualification documents for major projects request ISO 9001 certification, and it surely won’t be long before ISO 50001 features just as prominently.
These benefits have already proved sufficiently convincing for many major organisations to start investing in ISO 50001 certi- fication. This includes Eaton Corporation, which is currently at an advanced stage in a project aimed at gaining ISO 50001 approval for its operations in North America, to gain experience before implementing similar projects worldwide.
So much for theory and justifications, but how are the commitments embodied in the ISO 50001 certification process translated into practical measures?
One of the great strengths of the standard is that its scope is far wider than simply technological measures. It also encourages energy efficiency by other means including, for example, improving training and changing employee behaviour. This doesn’t mean, however, that technological measures can or should be marginalised; they still have a large and essential role to play.
For example, a key element of every EnMS is measurement, first to establish a baseline, and then to provide the data needed to assess improvements against that baseline. In the case of electrical energy, obtaining sufficiently detailed data invariably means using sub-metering systems that can provide information about the energy used by individual loads or groups of loads.
New commercial and industrial electrical distribution systems now make good provision for sub metering, but it is still important to specify the right equipment for the project in hand. With existing equipment, the situation is not always so straightforward, but some suppliers of distribution equipment, including Eaton, offer compact retrofit metering boxes that are supplied pre-wired and tested, making them convenient and inexpensive to install.
Of course, measurement is only part of the solution – saving energy is the real goal and for this many technological solutions are possible. Probably the one most frequently mentioned is the installation of variable speed drives (VSDs) to replace fixed-speed starters on fans and pumps.
While this is hardly a new idea, it deserves further promotion as the potential energy savings are enormous and, despite all the publicity given to the benefits of VSDs in appropriate applications, huge numbers of fans and pumps are still being used with fixed speed drives. Even where VSDs are fitted, it’s important not to be complacent, especially if the VSDs are old. The latest products are much more efficient than their predecessors, so an upgrade may well be beneficial.
Another area where increasingly large amounts of energy are being used, and there are good opportunities for making substantial savings, is in the powering of data centres and related IT infrastructure. Since secure supplies are needed, Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSs) are invariably used. If these are old or poorly specified, however, their efficiency can be alarmingly low.
For example, it’s always tempting to size a UPS with plenty of reserve capacity to cater for worst-case conditions and to allow for future expansion. This often means that the UPS spends a lot of its life lightly loaded, and lightly loaded UPS’s are notoriously inefficient. One very effective solution is the modular management system technology pioneered by Eaton.
This uses a UPS architecture that is essentially made up of a number of small power converter “modules” rather than a single large converter. An innovative monitoring system then tracks the load on the UPS and switches modules in and out of service instantly and seamlessly, as needed. This means that, at any given time, all of the modules that are in service are well loaded and, therefore, operating efficiently, but plenty of reserve power is always available to cope with worst-case demand.
The coming of ISO 50001 should not be viewed as the imposition of yet another standard to burden businesses, but as an excellent opportunity to save money, protect the planet and build important competitive advantages. As we’ve seen, the standard provides an excellent framework for improvements, while working with the right technology partner – a company with wide and proven expertise in optimising the energy chain – provides a myriad ways of building energy efficiency gains onto that framework.
Eaton Electric For all the most up to date news and products visit www.thepanelbuilder.co.uk
March 2012 Page 13
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