University College, Cork (UCC) has become the first university worldwide to reach the international ISO 50001 standard for systematic energy management, and it did so using software developed by Irish company Enerit.
“We’re very proud,” says UCC energy manager Maurice Ahern. “We’re also happy to be the first public sector body in Ireland [to reach the ISO standard.]
“We had made a decision to pursue ISO50001 and went out to the marketplace. A lot of these things are paper-based, but the online system seems very good.
“We see it as a tool for saving energy. It makes it very easy, if there’s an energy saving opportunity, it’s accessible very easily,” continued Mr. Ahern.
Paul Monaghan, co-founder and CEO of Enerit, acknowledges that while industry in Ireland has “strongly taken up” the ISO standard, introduced in June 2011, implementing it in a university environment presented a unique set of challenges.
“Groups like universities do need more external support from energy management consultants.
“When UCC tendered for the energy management consultant to help them get ISO50001, it turned out that they were offered two alternatives; one was to do the consultancy in the conventional way and the other was to do the consulting in conjunction with our software, and the university was prepared to go with the software approach.
“Basically, what happened in the case of UCC is that they had a top-class international consultant called Liam McLoughlin, who is from the Cork area but also works for ISO globally. Basically he used our software and his own experiences in ISO50001 to help UCC implement it.”
In a situation like a university, with multiple campuses and buildings, it can be difficult to identify whose responsibility it is to identify and implement energy-saving opportunities.
This can lead to spreadsheets being bandied about between various departments, with no overriding support structure to track changes and progress.
“Typical of what would happen is that all the organisation would use a spreadsheet, but the difficulty with that is then you don’t have all the information visible in one place, and what happens is the spreadsheet starts getting emailed around and different people can edit that spreadsheet so no-one knows exactly which version of the plan is the right one”, says Mr. Monaghan.
“The benefit of having the software in a situation like this is everything is in the one place, there is very careful control of who can edit the plan.
“In a place like a university or any multi-building operation, to have spreadsheets is just not viable.”
Having implemented the ISO standard, UCC can now hope to achieve energy savings of between ten and twenty percent.