By Mervyn Pilley, Executive Director, ESTA > At a time when every business and organisation is being encouraged to meet Net Zero targets, we believe that one solution that is relatively low cost and quick in terms of payback when compared with the other more widely promoted ways of reducing carbon is not getting the focus and attention it truly deserves. Using less energy and using the energy that you must use to function more efficiently is something that we at the Energy Services and Technology Association – ESTA have been promoting through the services offered by our members for more than thirty years. We believe that using less energy should be the first fuel of choice. We also believe that, as the heading of this article suggests, Energy Efficiency is the start of any net zero journey.
We have members of differing sizes and covering the breadth of the sector. Divided into four groups members offer consultancy services, ISO’s ESOS and SECR reporting, Energy Service (Performance) Contracting – working with companies to support energy reduction through a results driven process to fund the work, automated measuring and targeting – meter manufacture and installation and Smart Buildings work – installation and advice on energy management systems.
Which of these services will most benefit the business will depend on a number of factors including size which in turn can lead to reporting requirements such as ESOS and SECR, but perhaps more fundamentally those organisations that use more energy will clearly have much more to potentially gain from implementing an energy management system. Energy efficiency is very much underpinned by energy management. Having the data of usage readily available and understanding how best to use that data underpins an energy efficiency and reaching net zero strategy.
Unsurprisingly technology has indeed as it has in every part of our working lives improved considerably and the Internet of things, blockchain and artificial intelligence are all areas that have improved the ability of business to understand what effect their organisation is having on the environment. Building Management systems have also developed to encompass staff wellbeing and comfort. Whilst a pandemic has clearly affected that aspect, as long as businesses own and use buildings where staff work then the need for efficient energy usage in buildings will remain.
Saving energy should also of course drive a reduction in cost, albeit that in a world where energy prices have generally gone up substantially in recent years that has been a harder outcome for many businesses to realise. The capital cost of equipment can be relatively high and the withdrawal last year of tax incentives last year through the enhanced capital allowances scheme was disappointing. Whilst the recent budget has incorporated a new ‘super allowance’ scheme for businesses, that scheme is not targeted specifically towards equipment listed on the Energy Technology List. The Energy Technology List – housed on the Government website is, in theory at least, a definitive list of quality checked energy efficient equipment. There are deficiencies in the list that are currently being worked on to include services such as software that will help link devices together and also help businesses looking for the best energy efficiency solution to work out what they need to buy and what may or may not be compatible with what equipment they currently use.
In addition to the services offered by our members in the last two years we have, jointly with the Energy Institute, developed the Energy Conscious Organisation initiative.
We believe that a significant part of the solution for all organisations (as well as the UK Government) to meet the UK’s 2050 net zero target is the – still largely ignored – focus on behaviour change.
Evidence suggests that behaviour change offers around 50% of the total potential energy efficiency savings available. The other 50% comes from technology and yet, as important as it is, technology currently gets the majority of the focus. A shift in focus is required, and soon, to ensure that the ‘hidden’ and largely untapped savings available from behaviour change are realised.
Behaviour change, in terms of energy consumption, is about eliciting targeted behaviours by framing choices in a way that makes them more environmentally friendly and efficient choices become easier to make. Creating a dynamic system between technology and behaviour, rather than viewing them as separate entities is an important part of the intervention, and of being an EnCO. For example, organisations need to consider technology optimisation on an ongoing basis rather than just at the commissioning stage. This change will maximise efficiency at a relatively low cost. Previous experience has shown us that behaviour change projects require relatively low investment, even including the cost of internal resources.
One major difference to consider, compared to purely technical projects, is that the savings are not necessarily delivered overnight but instead typically take 4-12 months to be fully adopted and for savings to be measurable. This requires an adjustment in expectations, as well as ongoing resource input (however low-level) to maintain and improve energy saving opportunities.
Our ambition is to excite people to challenge the norm, and to encourage mass adoption of energy efficiency good practice through more energy efficient behaviours and embracing the delivery of holistic large-scale behaviour change programmes.
An Energy Conscious Organisation is one who has employed behaviour change principles to make significant improvements across the following five pillars:
Engagement – Very high levels of engagement at every level of organisation on energy management including top management practices, significant users and all colleagues. All levels enthused and taking positive action.
Alertness – High levels of alertness/awareness across the organisation in eliminating energy waste, mechanisms to register waste with clearly delegated responsibilities and practical responses regularly actioned.
Skills – Top management, practitioners and significant users are fully skilled in their energy management roles. Commitment to continual learning and up-skilling is demonstrated by ongoing investment in education, competency and training.
Recognition – The benefits and co-benefits of energy management are widely recognized, and data systems track savings against robust energy targets. Those making savings are routinely recognised and celebrated.
Adaption – The organisation positively expects and embraces change, adapting and responding to minimise risk and maximise opportunities in a timely way to maintain continual improvement in energy management.
EnCO’s are recognisable with the mark “EnCO Registered Organisation” which has the following advantages:
● The progress achieved is externally verified recognition by experts and supported by ESTA and the Energy Institute
● The EnCO registration and logo (valid for 3 years) demonstrates good practice to shareholders, regulators, stakeholders and employees
● The method and approach sustains and improves energy consumption reductions and brings cost savings
● The programme partners will be engaging proactively to gain greater recognition and subsequent opportunities to gain access to work frameworks as a result of holding the accreditation
● Becoming part of the wider EnCO community to enable sharing of good practice
● Reduction in fees for EnCO courses
● Improved ability to attract new talent to the organisation
● A stimulus for continual improvement
We are keen to offer support and solutions for all sizes of business and organisation.
For more information on the Energy Conscious Organisation and how to start your journey go to www.energyconsciousorganisation.org.uk
ESTA is a proud Partner of Net Zero Week 2021, for more details on the services offered by ESTA and its members go to www.estaenergy.org.uk
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