Energy Control


An Energy Control Map connects the real actions of a building’s occupants to the internal energy system - at all levels from the building management system to individual appliances.

Mapping energy control can be a powerful process when aiming to optimise energy use in buildings by bringing together critical elements that are all too rarely considered as one whole system:

  •     energy use and control mechanisms
  •     who controls or has an influence over energy use including occupants
  •     how they exert that control or influence.

We have found that the mapping process can reveal quite unexpected data, insights and understanding.

Mapping energy control establishes a sound basis from which to plan for change. It can inform energy and infrastructure investment decisions and be an invaluable tool for Estates and Energy Directors who need a good financial basis for a business case or to achieve emissions reduction targets.

The potential savings available through behavioural change can be quantified by mapping where, how and who uses energy and who can influence or has control over that use. This enables the prospective return on a change effort to be valued and the results measured.

In recent years, behavioural change has come to be regarded as one of the ways in which energy savings can be achieved and employee engagement programmes have become popular. These are usually initiated without any attempt to quantify potential savings, relying instead on popular notions such as that a 10% saving is typical. Sometimes they are successful but in practice employee engagement programmes usually fail. This can be for various reasons and mapping energy control can help to address some of them.


For example, it is common practice for Facilities Managers to assume that they control energy use. If the whole solution lies at the systemic level, encouraging employees to take individual action may just breed cynicism.

When people are asked to play their part to attain efficiency savings, it is important to be confident that their actions will have an effect, even if the potential scale of any savings isn’t known. Also, they generally like to receive feedback and to learn how much difference their actions have made. If metering or other ways of quantifying improvements aren’t available, any changes they make are in effect an act of faith or compliance.

It is typical to find that, a few years after commissioning, a building is no longer being operated in line with design intentions. It is not only that efficiencies are often inadvertently over-ridden by building service engineers unaware of design intentions or mindful of new and different KPIs.

Occupiers bring their own views and requirements or seek to control features that have an impact on their immediate working environment for example by opening windows or installing temporary heaters without realising that these will give anomalous signals to automated control sensors.

An Energy Control Map can be particularly useful in complex estates, those which house multiple kinds of functions or which are occupied by people undertaking very varied tasks. An Energy Control Map can be used to inform energy and infrastructure investment decisions, help FM teams to see how a building is really being used and provide a quantified basis for launching and measuring the effectiveness of employee engagement efforts.


We originally developed the Energy Control mapping methodology in the course of projects at Imperial College and HM Treasury in 2004-5. More recently, it proved useful in a project conducted in conjunction with Carbon Visuals for the Natural History Museum.


A powerful analytical approach to sustainability engagement that can be of great help in preparing internal communications, ensuring that issues can be addressed, costs and benefits assessed and a campaign launched on a sound footing.

Declan Rajasingam, Energy Manager, Natural History Museum