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SMU practises responsible energy management

SMU's energy management team (above).

The chiller water plant after it was retrofitted (above).

SINGAPORE Management University (SMU), a winner in the Excellence in Energy Management category in the EENP Awards this year, started its energy efficiency efforts in 2007 and implemented an ISO 50001 certified energy management system in 2013.

It has a good track record of energy consumption savings of 33 per cent in nine years, when the student population nearly doubled. The university has overcome many challenges in its efforts to build a strong energy efficiency culture. SMU's energy policy is to practise responsible energy management in all university activities of faculty, staff and students, and to continually seek new and better ways to improve energy efficiency and to adapt to new stakeholder requirements.

"As a public-funded institution, our efforts originate from our sense of stewardship. As the university grows, there will be more demand for energy to support the increasing level of teaching and learning activities on campus. Stewardship requires that we manage our use of resources responsibly," says Goh Thiang Hock, director, Office of Facilities Management, SMU. "Our energy policy is to promote the responsible use of energy on campus. We adopt an inside-out approach, improving the areas within our purview in the first instance and thereafter promoting the culture of sustainability among stakeholders. To improve energy efficiency in SMU, we can be more productive, using the same or lesser resources to address the increasing demand of energy use on campus to support the growth of the university."

Interestingly, more than 200 power meters have been installed in SMU. These meters monitor energy consumption in each building and the important energy systems. Monthly energy data is kept track of, and the results of energy efficiency improvement measures are assessed and discussed. Annually, a general energy review is done and the effectiveness of initiatives is assessed. New action plans are then established.

Mr Goh says that the benefits for being energy efficient include cost savings on campus energy use. Energy cost is one of the major items of expenditure in any organisation. The action plan is to set an example to "walk the talk", and to show real results. This will help raise awareness, and encourage stakeholders to help save energy, to reduce waste, and to promote a culture of sustainability.

New and better ways to improve energy efficiency are continually being explored and piloted for deployment, if found suitable. The present initiatives relate to the introduction and deployment of passive displacement ventilation on campus, and the refinements in building smart building solutions in facilities use and smart LED solutions.

At SMU, energy efficiency improvement initiatives implemented in recent years include the rationalisation of operational requirements in general areas by streamlining operating hours, lighting levels and temperature set-points. At the same time infrastructure efficiencies have been improved by lowering electrical maximum loads and improving chiller plant efficiencies in chiller operations, pipes, variable speed drives (VSDs) for fans, pumps and AHUs (air handling units). The campus chiller plant was retrofitted, which improved the average plant efficiencies from 0.8 kW/RT to 0.5 kW/RT.

Mr Goh says energy wastages have been reduced with the use of the facilities booking system and the responsibility centre accounting. In addition, motion sensors are installed in common facilities and thermostat air-con controls are installed for shared facilities, to further reduce energy wastages.

SMU has achieved good results in its energy efficiency efforts. There has been a significant reduction of energy use and cost. While from 2006 to 2015, the student population nearly doubled from 4,742 to 9,280, for the same period energy consumption was reduced from 25 million KWh to 16.8 million KWh - a decrease of 33 per cent. Encouraged by the results, the university is actively promoting sustainability awareness. With increasing awareness of sustainability, students, offices and faculty are now more actively engaged in green activities like SMU Grow, Earth Hour, recycling of food waste, paper, etc.

SMU has established a strong team, trained in the various aspects of energy efficiency, to drive the energy management system on the campus. Amongst the energy management team members are Singapore Certified Energy Managers (SCEMs), Green Mark Facility Professionals and Certified Data Centre Management Professionals. Last year (2015), a centralised data centre for academic computing was designed (benchmarked Tier 3) and built by an in-house technical team.

Mr Goh notes that information on measures to improve energy efficiency is quite freely available from the industry and in the market, and from many exemplary and successful green building case studies. He adds: "We believe that people make things happen, and we need to build capabilities to improve our energy efficiency. We can have a clear vision to improve energy efficiency. But we can succeed only if we equip our people with the capabilities and passion to do the job, and we support them to make things happen. We need a highly motivated energy management team to take ownership to focus on energy efficiency. Knowledge gaps are identified, and team members are encouraged to pick up all necessary knowledge to do their job well."

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