Sustainable Operations Management of High-Rise Project

Ruby Tower SOM
With an ambition of providing housing for all citizens in India, the drive towards resource efficiency building operations is all-time high given the constraints in allocation of resources and their utilization, writes Mamta Rawat of Conserve Consultants.

By 2030, almost 590 million people will be living in Indian cities, which is twice the size of the population of United States today. Migration to cities due to employment opportunities or better amenities has taken a toll on the existing infrastructure in cities, which are not designed to accommodate the large influx of people.

More than 22% of the energy consumption in India is domestic and around 33% by commercial buildings. Although there is a sharp increase in adaptation of resource efficient building planning and construction in the building sector, buildings that are already constructed and are at the operation stage, are a cause for concern. The rate of new infrastructure development is currently 5% every year, which means that there is an enormous number of buildings in India which are not properly planned for resource-efficient building operation and management.

Sustainable Operations Management (SOM)
No matter how sustainable a building may be at its design stage and construction, it cannot perform at its optimum level unless it is operated and maintained properly. Operation and Maintenance (O&M) in the building sector is an important post-occupancy process that ensures that the building remains at its peak performance to support the day-to-day activities of the occupants. Sustainable Operations & Management practices focus primarily on the actions of building occupants, encompassing safety, health, comfort and productivity, with an understanding of the need for subsequent generations to reuse and recycle the building components.

SOM aims to ensure that the building remains committed to the expectations and values of the occupants and that the building remains at its peak performance round the year with respect to the following:
  • Environment friendly building process
  • Education and Awareness
  • Resource Efficiency process
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
SOM operates at individual levels in the building from its core management to ensure that all aspects are aligned for enhancing resource utilization, and it seeks to create awareness amongst occupants about the best practices. It also intervenes with effective solutions and processes to improve the overall energy quotient of the building.

The general outcome of SOM includes efficiency of building operation through reduction in energy and water usage (thereby bringing down the overall operational cost of the building). It also connects the gaps in the current performance of the building with the highest possible performance through strategic interventions such as automated energy and water monitors, ventilation control, waste management and other measures to ensure that the occupants’ comfort is maintained throughout the lifecycle of the building. Since occupants plays an important role in the overall efficiency of the building performance, SOM conducts regular surveys with occupants to understand their concerns and prioritize on aspects that affect their day to day routine. It also ensures that the best practices are being followed through clear signages, education programs and training with occupants’ participation towards a sustainable building operation.

Ruby Tower SOM

Other major outcomes of SOM include increase in the valuation of the building or its asset value. Through the lifecycle of the building, its valuation will deteriorate due to the wear and tear of operation. Through strategic interventions, SOM ensures that the building is always kept at its peak performance, thereby increasing its asset value.

The SOM process is tailored to help understand and define Sustainable Operations to suit project needs. This process also helps benchmark a building’s Green Quotient against the national and international best. The SOM tool comprises 4 modules: SOM-Blueprint, SOM-Monitor, SOM-Assess, and SOM-Implement

Case Study of Ruby Tower: Commercial Building in Mumbai
The 40-storey, 191m (627 feet) high Ruby Tower is the tallest office building in Central Mumbai. Beautifully designed, this center of business and finance, has a full glass façade wall made of eco-friendly material that blocks sunlight and increases the efficiency of air conditioning. Covering over 6.5 lakh sq.ft of built-up-area, it consists of 2B+G+10 floors, internally sub-divided into 4 zones (1, 2, 3 & 4), and operates as a multi-tenanted office from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. Its efficient space designing and strategic location, makes it one of the most desired addresses in the financial megapolis.

Conserve Consultants was invited by Ruby Tower’s Project Management team to maintain its asset value and sustainability features with our Sustainable Operations & Management service skill. The client wanted that the building be well maintained to improve its performance over its years of operation and to continuously increase its asset value. Though the intent of our service was to benchmark the project against international sustainability standards, Conserve also aspired to add value to the project through reduction in operation cost by implementing energy and water saving measures.

Conserve started with the preliminary research on the available data of the building and benchmark its present performance metrics. During our investigation, we found that the site’s design data was incomplete and incorrect. We also found that the performance management systems such as the BMS installed on the site was not working and was also misleading the operations team by providing inaccurate data. Since the data available for other systems was not matching the actual installations, it posed a bigger threat in benchmarking the current performance. The site also did not have a complete operational data over a period of its operation due to inefficient monitoring by the operation team.

Ruby Tower SOM

The BMS system, which was not working most of the time, was monitoring data points limited only to water and energy consumption, so it could not be used as valid benchmark metrics to understand the building’s overall performance. The challenge was to increase the building’s performance to the next level without having a clear and existing performance benchmark.

We started identifying gaps in the design data and the actual building structure. Along with our technical team, we arrived at a detailed blueprint of a design that closed these gaps. We studied the BMS system, along with the metering system, to understand the accuracy of the data. We offered a Proposed Measurement & Verification (M&V) system of Energy & Water Meters as per IPMPV after proper sanitization. These processes helped us to arrive (tentatively) on the current performance level of the building.

Based on our observation and analysis, we identified 10 Performance Improvement Measures (PIM) throughout the project, which could effectively contribute towards reducing energy consumption and improve building performance. We inducted the local Operation and Management team at site on the PIM and arrived at a roadmap on how to achieve them over the timelines. We went an extra mile by studying the operation data of over 60 tenants in the building, along with sample checks. We set a guideline for development, based on the benchmarks of both LEED and ECBC requirements, to ensure that the building meets international and national performance standards. Several workshops were conducted onsite for the tenant teams on the improved guidelines as per LEED and ECBC requirements.

Ruby Tower SOM

Ruby Tower SOM

Through our SOM guidelines, we were able to add a lot of tangible and intangible values to the building. We updated the design data of the building to match the existing and new modifications, so that it could act as a Ready Reckoner for any future interventions / improvements by the client.
  • We established a Measurement & Verification (M&V) as per IMPVP with Key Performance Indices, that could act as the benchmark for building performance metrics. With our 10 PIM implementation and roadmap strategies, we were able to show operation performance improvement through the following techniques:
  • Chiller’s Descaling
  • Chilled Water Pumps VFD Frequency Optimisation
  • Cooling Towers Overhauling
This resulted in savings of 75,000 kWh / month and operational savings of ₹94.50 lakh / year.
  • We also undertook design enhancement measures such as VFD for condensers, pumps, and DO sensors in the Sewage Treatment Plant, which led to energy savings of 25,000 kWh/month and operation energy savings of ₹31.50 lakh/annum.
We made technology advancements in key areas such as the EC fans in AHUs, and LED lighting through ESCO contracts, which led to incremental energy savings of 17,000 kWh/month and operational savings of ₹21.4 lakh / annum.
Mamta Rawat
Mamta Rawat is USGBC LEED Accredited Professional, IGBC AP & BEE Certified Energy Manager.

She has more than 7+ years of experience in sustainability domain. She has been associated with number of projects providing value additions in terms of design, construction & operation. She has executed LEED facilitation for 30+ organization & done energy audits and implementation work for 60+ projects.

NBM&CW April 2019

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