August 19, 2022

The 3-Pillars for Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

Written by

Tom Ascough

Do we have to go ‘all-in’ to have ESG efficient-proof buildings? Perhaps so, but at what cost or is there a smarter way? Based on our experience, the 3-Pillar approach of #1 High Performance Algorithms, #2 Revolutionary Heat Recycling, and #3 Smart IAQ devices can square up to big-ESG budget new-builds — if not considerably outperform them.

Many industry professionals have at this stage heard of the term ‘energy performance gap’ whereby modern buildings fail to deliver on energy performance expectations even though they are well designed and of a quality build. Pillar #1 fixes this.

Another challenge that has come to light is the need for year-round cooling in buildings. This is especially the case for newer, well insulated buildings that better trap internal heat gains from people, lighting and equipment.  A meeting room in the dead of winter will still overheat if not cooled. Some cooling can be derived from the fresh air supply into a room but that’s typically not enough. Although a particularly elusive challenge, Pillar #2 works on this one.

The most recent conundrum is the ‘new normal’ tension between desirable ventilation and the energy needed to deliver it. Might it be possible to deliver better than design Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and yet save on energy at the same time? That brings us to Pillar #3.

Symphony Energy has spent years developing solutions to these problems before ESG and high energy prices put them under the spotlight. These solutions need a hybrid of specialist capabilities that merge the best in HVAC engineering design with electronics, IT and programming. 

Most buildings are missing the Pillar #1 high performance algorithms that dynamically integrates the design philosophy of the building with its HVAC plant operation. The algorithms track the environmental signature of the building and endeavour to match it with a perfect blend or ‘symphony’ of plant operation. Up until recently, this energy performance gap problem didn’t have a name because it was just a mystery to many. Now identified, it can be tackled. This chunk of work should be accounted for in the construction budget for new buildings or separately for those existing. 

Symphony Cycle is the patented heat recycling process that delivers Pillar#2 on chilled water cooling systems. It transfers heat from where you don’t want it to where you want it. It typically neither requires any physical change to the HVAC system nor does it consume any net additional energy to operate it. Symphony Cycle avails of a process that is already taking place, using assets that already exist.  We anticipate energy savings between 10% and 20% on total building gas/heating and a similar saving on total HVAC electricity. Even higher savings are possible where combined with the other two pillars. 

A Symphony Cycle license can be procured here and the solution can be implemented by a local controls contractor. 

The tension between energy and ‘new normal’ ventilation demands brings us to Symphony WellTech, or Pillar #3. This compact device not only measures IAQ, but it also controls the local and central HVAC plant that delivers it. Symphony WellTech is both the diagnosis and the cure to the new normal challenge. In fact, it is capable of delivering better than design IAQ while still saving energy. 

We are consistently seeing energy savings to the order of 50-80% using the 3-Pillars alone. This applies from older buildings right up to new LEED Platinum buildings. 

Symphony Energy provides a turnkey solution that incorporates any or all of these Pillars in conjunction with, where beneficial, small to modest complimentary enhancements to a buildings HVAC system. So far, this solution is being provided within a payback under 5-years at pre-2022 energy prices. The energy performance outcome is guaranteed. 

A careful application of the 3-Pillars can annihilate the energy consumption in any building, even one that’s already had a big budget ESG spend. In fact, a traditionally designed 4-pipe fan-coil building with the 3-Pillars will probably outsmart and consequently outperform a high ESG spend building without them.

ESG pressures aside, the 3-Pillars approach makes commercial sense on its own. Where applied, it can pave the way for lower lifecycle renewal costs on chillers and heating system plant on account of their much reduced energy loads. Any renewable plant obligations can likewise be scaled back considerably leading to smaller plant footprint, capital, maintenance and operational costs going forward. This concurs with the philosophy for achieving the most cost-efficient path to Net Zero by first maximising a building’s efficiency before expending on renewable energy plant.

Taking this smart approach, you probably don’t have to go for an ‘all-in’ budget to get an ‘all-in’ outcome!

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reach your sustainability targets.

Symphony Energy
4 Aran Centre,
Blessington Business Park,
Co. Wicklow,
W91 WT02

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