Building stock research unveils massive efficiency potential

An official survey of the UK’s non-domestic building stock has uncovered significant potential for energy efficiency technologies, which could save owners or tenants as much as £1.3bn each year.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published its Building Energy Efficiency Survey results earlier this week, based on the 2014 to 2015 non-domestic building stock.

The survey found that the total stock in England and Wales, which comprised of more than 1.8 million buildings, consumed a total of 161,060GWh of energy each year. Of that figure, 53 per cent (84,820GWh) was electrical and the rest non-electrical.

Crucially BEIS found that as much as 63,160GWh of that total energy consumption could have been avoided through the adoption of energy efficiency technologies. More than a third of those potential savings could also have been abated through measures with payback periods of three years or less, representing possible bill savings of £1.3bn.

Measures with the greatest potential savings were carbon and energy management systems, lighting replacement and control, and building services instrumentation and control measures which combined represented more than half of the total savings potential.

This tallies with the most common end uses of energy, which included space heating, internal lighting, catering and cooled storage, which were responsible for 70 per cent of energy consumption. Electrical energy was commonly used to power internal lighting, cooled storage and ICT equipment.

But while the potential for efficiency savings was undoubted, a large number of barriers were also identified by those who participated in the survey. Economic barriers were the most prevalent, including restricted access to capital, perceived hidden costs within investments and external risks.

A number of organisational barriers were also referenced. Complex chains of decision making was a barrier mentioned frequently, corresponding with the results of similar surveys which have found that decision making processes have prohibited energy efficiency investments from going ahead in a number of businesses.

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