The Energy Man

Feb 20, 2014 | Columnist, Creativity, English, Singapore

The Columnist (TC): We understand that your company is a green energy consultancy, what inspired you to go into this industry?

Patrick Foong (PF): My interest in energy conservation and environmental sustainability dates back to my varsity days at King’s College London , where I read Mechanical Engineering. One of my professors in Thermodynamics was an avid environmentalist – he could spend hours talking about the great potential in energy conservation, the threat posed by environmental pollution, etc. and I was indeed influenced and inspired by him. My first hands-on experience in “green” consultancy was during my tenure with the then MRTC (now SMRTSGX:S53) where I was part of a select team of engineers tasked to look into energy conservation measures for the mass rapid transit system. We looked into every possible energy conservation measure that could be applied to the station air-conditioning, escalators, lighting , tunnel ventilation, train regenerative systems right to the underground platform screen doors.

Thereafter, I worked for one of the pioneer “ESCOs” (Energy Savings Companies), namely Econoler Singapore Pte Ltd which was set up in the late 80s as a wholly-owned subsidiary of DBS Land Ltd. As their Chief Engineer, I had the opportunity to carry investment grade energy audits and implemented energy performance contracts to a myriad of buildings covering commercial, industrial buildings and hospitals. Apart from helping them to save on their energy consumption, we were in fact, doing our part in reducing carbon emission and pollution to the environment. Unfortunately, the “push” for “green” and “energy-efficient” buildings then was rather muted but apart from the wide experiences gained, I had also developed the passion and drive to transform older buildings into energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable ones. Thereafter, I have never looked back and decided to pursue a career in which I could use my engineering training and experience to provide “green” energy services to the building industry.

TC: Can you explain in further detail what your company does?

PF: E2Green Pte Ltd was set up to provide sustainable energy management solutions to the building industry in Singapore and to the region. It is an NEA (National Environment Agency) accredited energy services company and our business activities cover Energy Auditing, Energy Consultancy and Energy Performance Contracting Services (Design & Build Contract with performance-guarantee on energy savings) as well as distribution of niche energy savings and environmentally-friendly products to the building industry.

TC: Your approach, how did you come up with it?

PF: Let’s take the cue from Singapore’s Green Mark Scheme.  The scoring system for existing building(s) have 5 categories, namely, “Energy Efficiency”, “Water Efficiency”, “Sustainable Operation & Maintenance”, “Indoor Environmental Quality” and “Other Green Features”.  In particular, under the category of “Energy Efficiency” and “Other Green Features”, a number of energy conservation propositions could be enunciated after a detailed energy audit is carried out on the facilities and premises. For example, the building’s chiller plant and equipment could be improved through proven means like retrofitting or optimisation. Similarly, one could recommend retrofitting the existing lighting system with energy-efficient equivalents, using state-of-the-art building control devices and sensors to optimise usage and demand limiting, adopt alternative forms of sustainable alternative energy such as solar, extract the benefits of co-generation whenever the situation permits, and the list goes on.  The savings could be estimated using simple energy and heat transfer calculations, from which simple payback periods, return on investments could be incorporated into commercial propositions for our client’s consideration. A word of caution – the calculations must be backed by selected real-time data that are being “logged” using precise instrumentation over a representative period, otherwise, the cost-benefit analysis carried out will be erroneous with dire effects.

TC: Who are your clients?

PF: Most of my clients are building owners of commercial, industrial and institutional buildings and they could be a Owner Developers, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Management Corporation Strata Titles (MCST), Multi National Corporations (MNC) and single building owners who require green consultancy services to help optimise and/or seek alternative forms of energy required for their building services and at the same time transform them into energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable buildings.

TC: Do you provide all the services you recommend or do you engage other green tech vendors as well?

PF: Our team of highly experienced engineers would provide the leadership and technical expertise to design, guide, enunciate solutions that would help the building/facility achieve “Green Mark” certification or its equivalent but we certainly leverage on the strengths of our green tech vendors – suppliers of specialised green products, contractors specialised in the area of plant retrofitting including financial institutions who are willing to fund “green” projects etc., to help us deliver our integrated energy management cum green solutions to our clients.

TC: It’s interesting you leverage on the strengths of vendors to deliver your services, how important is it to ensure you have a strong network?

PF: A strong network of green tech vendors is pivotal to the success of our business.  We rely heavily on the plethora of information from them; such as on the latest development – be it new products and services available and market preferences.  Their relentless support in terms of providing information on costing, delivery period, etc. required for the preparation of our proposals to our clients is crucial and a strong network will also result in a “multiplier” effect, in terms of cross-recommendation for our services.

This interview was conducted for The Columnist, a newsletter by Consulus that offers ideas on business, design and world affairs. The views expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of Consulus.