Intelligent buildings for today and tomorrow’s energy challenges

In today’s energy-sensitive world, it comes as no surprise that good common
sense can do a great deal in making a difference. Buildings and the various
cogs and chains that run it are no different.

According to Neil Cameron, General Manager at Johnson Controls Building
Efficiency: Systems & Service: Africa, energy efficiency does not enjoy the
needed priority when designing a building. “The systems within buildings
are mostly designed to meet maximum duties to cater for ‘worst case
scenario’. However, these maximum duty cycles will unlikely ever be required
as 50 percent is a typical average duty of any building.”

“Indeed, matching system delivery to the demand of a building and its
occupants has the potential to be the greatest saver of running costs today
and as result reduce both energy and carbon emissions,” he explains.

Irrespective of your industry, designing a building with demand in mind can
make a tremendous difference in driving down power consumption and costs and
pave the way for a future which designs buildings intelligently from the
ground up.

The technical stuff
Taking a closer look at some of the more technical aspects of buildings and
where one can save costs, it is surprising how a little can go a long way.
Ensure, for one that you partner with a supplier that builds
energy-efficiency into its equipment. “Opting for energy-efficient
equipment is an immediate solution to companies’ power consumption woes.

“The reality is that renewable energy and strategies such as limiting the
amount of carbon emissions organisations are allowed to produce will only
start making noteworthy inroads by 2025. However, with energy
efficient-equipment we can start making a difference sooner rather than
later,” comments Cameron.

For example, most large buildings, mines and the like feature intensive
cooling systems. These systems in turn feature chillers. “Chillers are a
great opportunity to drive down consumption as air conditioning typically
consumes around 40 percent of a building’s total energy usage.

“In Johannesburg, cooling systems use the 28 degrees benchmark to establish
appropriate settings. This is much higher than the average temperature in
Johannesburg which is closer to 17 degrees. Therefore, by ensuring that the
system runs closer to 20 than 30 degrees can make an enormous difference in
the power consumed to cool down, for example, a large office block,” he

Organisations can also incorporate chiller technology such as variable speed
drive chillers. The chillers’ motor speed can be aligned with the needs of
the building and typically saves 30 percent energy.

Cameron explains: “Variable speed drive chillers provide organisations with
the flexibility to proactively drive down cooling consumption. However, it
should be noted that many manufacturers do not offer this technology on
their chillers which why thorough research beforehand is key.”

Ice thermal storage systems are another excellent method of saving costs.
Essentially, these systems take advantage of the low-cost, off-peak
electrical rates to produce cooling energy for use when the rates are
higher. An ice thermal storage system is used to charge thermal energy
storage tanks with ice during less expensive off-peak hours at night. The
ice is stored in storage tanks and then used the next day during the
discharge cycle to cool mines and large premises during on-peak hours when
electricity is more expensive.

Design now for the future
By designing a building with equipment such as the above in mind,
organisations can start making inroads immediately. “Over a period of 40
years it is estimated that only 11 percent of the total cost of a facility
goes into the initial construction of the building; 14 percent into
financing; 25 percent into operations and 50 percent into operational

“What this therefore means is if one invests more in designing an energy
efficient building from the start, costs will be reduced in the short and
long term. An intelligent, energy-efficient building will not only make an
immediate impact but continue to drive down costs and importantly power
consumption over a significant amount of years,” concludes Cameron.

About Johnson Controls

Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and industrial leader
serving customers in more than 150 countries. Our 162,000 employees create
quality products, services and solutions to optimize energy and operational
efficiencies of buildings; lead-acid automotive batteries and advanced
batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles; and interior systems for
automobiles. Our commitment to sustainability dates back to our roots in
1885, with the invention of the first electric room thermostat. Through our
growth strategies and by increasing market share we are committed to
delivering value to shareholders and making our customers successful. In
2011, Corporate Responsibility Magazine recognized Johnson Controls as the
#1 company in its annual “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list. For additional
information, please visit

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