Mitsubishi issue Building Regulation warning

UK – Mitsubishi Electric, through their spokesman Scott McGavin, have moved to warn commercial and residential building proprietors that they must ensure that their properties conform to new regulations under the Building Regulations and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive or face the prospect of no longer being able to rent out their properties.

Mitsubishi caution property owners and developers that legislation such as Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive mean that the control and regulation of energy use in all buildings will be more strictly enforced than ever before as the Government searches for ways to meet the country’s carbon reduction targets.

Measures which have already been introduced include the updated F-Gas legislation, which targets the eradication of HFCs from air conditioning equipment, and the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) which will mean that large organisations will be obliged to focus on greater efficiency.

Many landlords also find themselves confronted with the looming 2018deadline to upgrade their buildings to reach a minimum energy rating of E. Landlords of buildings currently rated F and G will be unable to lease out their properties after April 2018 unless they take active steps to improve the efficiency of the building.

A further complication is that all new non-domestic buildings should be zero carbon from 2019, as declared by the Labour Government in 2008 and reaffirmed by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government in December 2010.

Government officials current believe that t the best way of achieving zero carbon non-domestic buildings is via a ‘fabric first’ hierarchy of measures to reduce the demand for heating, cooling, mechanical ventilation and electric lighting in the non-domestic sector. However, in addition to this reduced demand approach there is still the requirement to guarantee that the remaining demand for services is met by using high efficiency equipment.

There are those who would argue that these objectives are somewhat harsh but they appear more reasonable when one takes into account the lifetime costs of a building as the vast majority of the costs associated with the running of a commercial building are swallowed up by the building services.

Consequently, it is essential to identify ways to make building services operate more efficiently if the industry is to remain in line with the quest for zero carbon and meet the government’s overall carbon reduction target of 80 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2050.

Although there is no easy way to achieve true efficiency for a commercial building the most common solution is often based on the simple concept of control. The British Standard BS EN 15232 relates to the impact of building controls and building energy management systems (BEMS) on energy efficiency and includes a detailed list of controls and building-automation technologies which have an impact on the energy performance of commercial buildings.

A range of controls products such as automatic detection devices, demand-based controls such as CO2 sensors, and controls-based strategies such as night cooling are covered under the standard, which also outlines a method of defining minimum requirements for controls for buildings of varying complexities. Even more importantly, the standard further provides detailed methods to assess the impact of building controls on the energy performance of any given building. As a result, the standard can therefore be used to demonstrate the energy savings of different types of building control, and this can then be compared against the costs.

Unfortunately the introduction of building controls also establishes a whole new problem. One of the main issues that has been identified with building controls in the commercial environment is that they are frequently used as a glorified on/off switch and consequently are not being used to their full potential. A further complication is that every device comes with its own control system which invariably works in isolation.

It is therefore apparent that this situation cannot be allowed to continue, in order to obtain the best performance from a building, all of the building services must be able to communicate through an effective control solution – a more intelligent solution that transcends brand boundaries and places performance at the top of its list of objectives via an integrated approach.

Apart from better performance, Mitsubishi contend that there are other benefits to bringing different systems together so that they can communicate with each other on a single platform, such as reduced installation costs and greater choice at the design stage, since the range of devices that can be chosen would no longer be constrained by having to use only one manufacturer’s products.

In addition, Mitsubishi state that if all building services can be operated from the same central interface, this makes for simpler and more time-efficient building operation.

Mitsubishi claim that this drive for an integrated approach was one of the major factors behind the introduction of their MelcoBEMS which provides an interface between Mitsubishi Electric air conditioning equipment and Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) through using the Modbus or BACnet protocol.

The company declare that this type of solution is increasingly in demand in the commercial market as building owners and managers recognise that the only way to achieve genuine energy savings and meet the legislative requirements is by using a flexible and intelligent solution which delivers building-wide control.

Today we take high efficiency for granted in modern industry but even the most efficient device has its limitations if it is not controlled effectively because the ability to anticipate, control, monitor and report performance is essential in achieving reductions in energy use and running costs.

Mitsubishi Electric therefore reiterates that the only way to obtain the best performance from a building is to ensure that the building services can communicate and work together. The company predict that this will become ever more important as building owners and managers look to reduce their energy use in a bid to meet the increasingly tough environmental requirements being placed on commercial buildings.