Lisscom was founded in 1998 as a company that offers high technology products and services in the areas of heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Their automation capabilities range from design to implementation and maintenance, and they serve both industrial and residential consumers.
Can you briefly introduce Lisscom and outline its key capabilities?
When we initially started out the business was focused on sourcing equipments from various international partners, but we quickly realized the downside that they were not communicating to each other, which meant it was not possible to automate certain functions. So we started to explore possibilities for inter-connection and the perfect solution turned out to be BMS (Building Management System). This provides a single point of management for the entire system, and is based on a processor in which a software is introduced. The respective software is able to make decisions instead of humans by reading certain parameters of a building (such as humidity, temperature, the level of CO2) and adjusting them to the most appropriate levels.
Furthermore, BMS comes with a schedule based on a working scenario that can be modified anytime and from anywhere in the world, because it is managed through a web interface. It is a SCADA type system that allows users live access to temperatures and generally the functioning state of the various system components. If you notice something wrong you can immediately intervene. This provides great advantages for customers but also for ourselves as service providers - since we started using these systems, our maintenance costs have fallen by 80%, primarily because we no longer have to travel to the location to see what the problem is.
What are some of the major applications of the BMS (Building Management System)?
The system has many industrial and commercial applications. For instance, we implemented a project for the Vel Pitar bread factory in Brasov that involved improving the ventilation system for two production halls with extremely high temperature and humidity (the employees were working in a temperature of approximately 60°C). Our engineers have found the technical solution to generate more air exchanges and through the implementation of a BMS the temperature was decreased to 28-30°C. The spectacular thing is that the chain of modernisations and improvements that were implemented also led to a reduction in energy consumption of about 50%.
BMS has some applicability in the residential area as well, but to a lesser extent, typically related to monitoring and controlling what happens in the house from a distance. The urban population consumes about 75% of the total amount of energy used, and in the non-residential segment, which is split between public and commercial buildings, the public ones normally use about 60-65% of the total amount of energy. This is where our focus lies at the moment, because while commercial buildings cover their costs through their commercial activity (they add the energy cost in their final service pricing), the costs entailed by public buildings are supported by the population through taxes, so any improvement made in this area serves the interests of society as a whole.
Can you provide us with an example of a project you have completed in the non-residential space and the impact that it had?
We have developed an extensive project in Cluj which involves 73 public buildings, more specifically universities, high schools, gyms, student dorms, kindergartens etc. They are now managed through a centralised BMS system that makes it possible for a single person to manage the entire network. In terms of results the consumption of gas, which is used to fuel the buildings, was reduced with 84,000 cubic metres in the first four months. But even more than this and the true spectacular outcome is the fact that the administrative spending has been reduced with about EUR 1,5 Mil. The costs were generated by the fact that every institution had individual contracts with providers of services of installation and maintenance. The BMS system is able to take on all these tasks that were previously subjectively managed. Humans tend to be subjective in estimating the necessary heating levels, whereas the BMS systems are objective and based on automatic measurement of data retrieved from all areas of the building so you can set up a working schedule and in this way achieve significant savings. In short, the BMS allows you to consume only the amount of energy you need, and only when you need it.
What have you identified as the main challenges faced by companies in your sector in Romania?
One challenge is the fact that this kind of investments are influenced by the political programs, and many public administrations are led by people that do not have a technical vision. It is typically the bigger cities that choose to implement such solutions, although we did have some pleasant surprises from the country side as well. A physics teacher noticed that the school took a long time to heat, so he supported the implementation of a BMS solution that allowed scheduling the heating system to start earlier in the day, so that when students arrived in school the temperature was already at the desired levels.
Other challenges have to do with changing mentalities of the stakeholders involved. There is an interesting conflict of interests that appears between suppliers of energy (whose interest is to sell higher quantities to end consumers) and companies like Lisscom, whose goal is to reduce the amount of energy used. Suppliers tend to raise their costs in these circumstances, because they do not wish to decrease their revenue. We can look at other countries for ideas to resolve such conflicts. In Germany for example, a program similar to our “Casa Verde” (regarding installation of photovoltaic panels) has been implemented. Rather than providing people the money directly, the program offered the incentives in the form of energy units. In this scenario the company that handles the installation services can reach an agreement with the supplier regarding the amount of energy which is to be installed in a certain area, and the supplier benefits because they take into the system energy for which they do not have to cover costs related to system implementation or maintenance.
What goals does Lisscom hope to achieve within the next two to three years?
Our goal is to continue on the path we are now and implement our solutions in as many environments as possible. Aside from BMS, we are also planning to implement BEMS (Business Energy Management Systems) which on top of this management software also includes a specific energy management component in accordance with ISO 50001, that regards energy efficiency. In Romania the trouble is that large quantities of energy are simply lost, but there are many industrial entities that have acknowledged the need to drive efficiency projects so we see numerous opportunities ahead.
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