Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Too Old to Change? Malaysia’s Public Works Ministry Proves not

At first glance, Block F of the Public Works Department Building Complex (PWD) looks like an ordinary building. Located in Jalan Sultan Salahuddin, Kuala Lumpur, it may not have the swanky or modern feel that buildings around it possess. But this building, built in 1979 and which has been occupied for more than 35 years, is more than meets the eye.

The PWD Building Complex consists of six building blocks, namely Block A to F, with an approximate gross floor area of 38,353m2 and air-conditioned area of 27,791m2 with an average of 912 persons occupying it. It won the Energy Management in Buildings and Industries (Large Building) Category during the ASEAN Energy Awards 2018, and achieved this mostly by implementing energy conservation measures (ECM).

In 2014, an Energy Management programme was started with the aim of continuously increasing energy efficiency in the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the building. This includes both with-cost and no-cost saving methods, and involves everyone related to building operation and maintenance.

Most of the savings was achieved by good energy practices but what they were trying to achieve was more than that – in order to sustain the implementation of the good practices, they realise that it is important to transform practices into culture.

The organisational structure of the energy management programme was uniquely set up as part of PWD Integrated Management, and it includes the top management, energy management team/committee, PWD staff, facility management team, and internal auditors, among others. Everyone has a role, and direct participation from PWD’s Director General in establishing the policy, objectives, target and action plans has contributed into a good energy management culture.

Not only that, as the first Federal Government building in Malaysia to be certified as MS 50001:2011 compliant, there are various ways the practices in PWD can be easily replicated by other organisations, proving that even old buildings can go green without having to undergo extensive renovation which would be costly.

First and foremost, at 66.1 percent of the total energy consumption, the chiller is easily the biggest energy consumer at PWD. Therefore, taking conservation measures which revolve around the chiller will have a bigger impact compared to others.

One of the ways was to make sure that the chiller’s operation hours are adjusted based on the working hours. For example, during Ramadhan where working hours are from 7.30am to 5pm instead of 5.30pm, the chiller operates from 7.30am to 4pm while the air handling unit (AHU) operates from 7.30am to 5pm.

The temperature of the chilled water for the chiller is also set to 9.4°C, 5°C higher than the recommended temperature set by the manufacturer. This barely affects overall user’s experience as there were no complaints received and an observation to thermal comfort and humidity found that there is very little impact caused by this higher temperature.

Floor Managers are also appointed to act as change agents who promote and drive good practices among colleagues and also help in conveying suggestions and complaints from their assigned floor to the Energy Management Committee. They also act as monitors who ensure that all lights are switched off before going home.

Continuous campaigns and educational programmes also contribute in the success of the campaign. Staff were given the explanation on the reasoning behind the programme and what and how their goals can be realised.

Besides ingraining good practices in everyone, PWD also took the initiative to retrofit the 4184 36 watts fluorescent T8 tube to 18 watts LED T8. Although there is no new LED lighting technology involved, this was able to reduce the installation cost and maximise the saving. 241 36 watts fluorescent T8 tube was also de-lamped. This gives no noticeable effect to the overall brightness of a floor, but has managed to save as much as 2,226.84 kWh/monthly. This project is a collaboration between PWD and Building Sector Energy Efficiency Project (BSEEP).

In 2017, PWD Building Complex has achieved its peak energy savings, managing to save 1,398,058 kWh/year, which brought the total of energy savings throughout 2014-2017 to 2,620,291 kWh/year. Energy consumption has also reduced from 4,585,502 kWh/year to 3,264,846 kWh/year.

PWD Building Complex shows that the efforts to save energy goes beyond having the latest green technology. Paired with the right mind set and the collective efforts of everyone in making energy saving a culture, more could be achieved in greening Malaysia and the world.

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