Whilst visiting our Energy Service team onsite at Northumbria University, where they were in the final stages of the installation phase of a large energy performance contract, I found myself drawing parallels between the success of this project and a fantastic book I read earlier this year.

In An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth, Colonel Chris Hatfield describes superbly the lessons he learned as an astronaut and how these can be used by us mere earth walkers. 

So what has this to do with the installation of over 3,000 LED lights, a new large AHU system and a financial guarantee to save the University over £750,000? 

The answer is more than you may think...

In his book, Colonel Hatfield describes the three most important principles of being an astronaut - ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything

Whilst our Energy Services team may not be reducing the international space stations energy consumption just yet, there are a number of lessons from space that help us to understand what makes a successful energy performance contract.

From the outset, our client defined a list of required outcomes - thousands of tonnes of carbon savings and a financial performance guarantee delivered against a predetermined budget. How this would be delivered was up to our Energy Services Team.

The complexities of the buildings within scope meant that some clever technical design was required and several versions were developed, evaluated and discarded before the optimal solution was created, presented and agreed by the University.

Several times during the development of this project, it looked as if the challenge was too great and that ultimately the works would not go ahead – how can we remove the AHU from the roof of the 8-storey library building without closing the building? How can we measure the savings in a building without a consumption baseline? Can we deliver the full project in less than 8 weeks before the students come back from summer break? 

On a project this large, delivered over a compressed time period, there were always going to be obstacles to overcome, but by robustly planning and continually re-evaluating the delivery plan, the team were able to deliver a fantastic solution that the University and the students think is out of this world...

So, is energy performance contracting really rocket science? 

Houston do you copy?


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