Four Challenges for London Buildings: Energy Efficiency and Cost Solutions

14th April 2023

Cities cover less than 2% of the world’s surface but consume more than 75% of energy produced globally.

Densely populated by people and buildings – domestic, commercial and industrial – London plays a central role in UK economic growth. But managing energy supply and demand as key sectors begin to electrify is a significant challenge, particularly in central business districts where the risk of downtime is potentially disastrous.

One of the major challenges we face as we head towards Net Zero 2050 is how we can reduce energy requirements and operational costs across big city buildings, while still delivering reliable and efficient services to a growing urban population.

Real-time monitoring of high energy demand infrastructure, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, will lead to better functioning buildings that are fit for the future.

Big city challenges – adapting urban buildings for net zero

  1. Climate change

The record-breaking heatwave in July 2022 recorded UK temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius for the first time. Due to climate change, heatwaves are likely to become a more common occurrence in the UK and across the globe, leading to increased demand for cooling.

Current cooling demand in the UK accounts for nearly 10% of total UK electricity usage, mainly from commercial buildings including healthcare, industry and offices. This is a huge problem for places like Central London, which has something in the region on 283 million square feet of office stock – the largest amount of any UK city – and several critical healthcare facilities.

It is estimated that the electricity used for cooling will more than triple by 2050. Buildings must adapt to make better use of the energy they consume by taking steps to become more efficient.

Our BG50i approach saves facilities managers money by ensuring water-based HVAC systems are free from corrosion and functioning well, so energy costs are reduced.

  1. Sustainability

The government is committed to lowering carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2050 and the built environment is a key target.

Around 50% of commercial buildings have hidden problems with their HVAC systems that could be contributing to increased energy demand – anything up to 40% of total usage – and high costs.

Closed-circuit systems are vulnerable to corrosion, fouling and degradation – problems which lead to inefficiencies and expensive and disruptive repairs if not picked up quickly.

The solution is real-time corrosion monitoring, which we use as part of BG50i, tracks key parameters 24/7. Facilities managers (FMs) and responsible parties are instantly notified if there is a change in the water condition, leading to swift rectification and continued energy efficient operation.

  1. Access

Congested urban environments in London can cause a significant challenge when it comes to testing, replacement or repair of HVAC equipment. Proximity to other buildings often restricts access and the presence of pedestrians, drivers and cyclists poses safety concerns.

Remote monitoring technology reduces the need for site visits as data can be accessed from any internet enabled device. The ability to view key readings in real-time leads to meticulously planned interventions, rather than reactive maintenance and emergency repairs, avoiding unnecessary disruption and unsafe situations.

  1. Multi-occupancy buildings

London is full of a mix of new purpose-built commercial spaces and old buildings adapted to suit a variety of uses. The demarcation of responsibility for HVAC repairs and maintenance is something of a ‘grey area’ in the law. Where there are multiple business tenants, deciding who should shoulder the financial burden can be costly.

In these situations, evidence is key. Hevasure’s HVAC monitoring system provides a continuous record of key parameters, including dissolved oxygen, pressure, pH, crevice corrosion and inhibitor concentration, allowing out of spec readings to be linked to interventions or events. This improves clarity and control and allows FMs to pass on HVAC maintenance costs when appropriate.

Real-time monitoring forms a key part of our BG50i package, which designed to help responsible parties, such as Facilities Managers and maintenance teams, meet the requirements of BSRIA’s BG50/2021 – Water Treatment for Closed Heating and Cooling Systems.

Available as a one-off ‘health check’ or for ongoing support, BG50i incorporates real-time corrosion monitoring technology – which provides an efficient and instantaneous alternative to sampling and corrosion coupons – combined with industry-leading water treatment.

Download Guardian’s BG50i guide, here 

Watch the BG50i video:

To find out more about how Guardian can improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC systems, contact our expert team today.