ESOS may have passed, but its message needs reinforcing

It’s almost a year since the first compliance date for the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme. Robin Hale, director of the Energy Services and Technology Association (ESTA), examines why there is a greater need to reinforce the message.

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) has, for those of us in the energy community, been ‘done to death’. From articles on legislation, to presentations from assessors and more recently discussions with the Environment Agency ‘compliance enforcers’, it seems difficult to understand why there are those who are still non-compliant.

With the anniversary of the first compliance date fast approaching, this round of ESOS for the most part should be well and truly in the rear view mirror. But with the referendum, silence (to date) on the business energy tax reform and a need to frame the business case for energy efficiency correctly, projects identified in audits still abound and are waiting to be implemented. Add to this the impact of reorganisations and revised strategies, then the need for the energy industry to continually reinforce ‘the ESOS message’ becomes more apparent.

As part of BRE’s briefing papers supported by ESTA, a free to download guide, ‘Gaining value from ESOS audits’ has been published. This guide provides not only a solid overview of the ‘why and how’ of ESOS, but also considers the opportunities and recommendations being identified in buildings, industry and transport.

From building audits, many of the recommendations are based on making the current systems (heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting) more efficient and in industrial locations includes the efficiency of manufacturing systems as well as the operation of the equipment.

In terms of industrial processes, key recommendations identified from ESOS audits could include installing higher efficiency motors or variable speed drives, use of heat recovery, more efficient lighting and building controls and building management systems.

In all scenarios however, a good understanding of the energy use within an organisation is needed, which is usually through a sub-metering monitoring and targeting solution (M&T), which is preferably automated. Where permanent meters have not been installed, Portable meters can be used to measure the actual energy use for some equipment and help to establish a base load profile. Without metering of the various operational stages and an understanding of a whole cycle of operation, you cannot develop a complete picture; and reviewing the entire process from start to finish is critical for the right savings to be made.

It is important that businesses consider and take maximum advantage of the ESOS audit reports to help reduce their overall organisational energy consumption and manage risk to the business.

As an example, a recent ESOS audit of the RSA Insurance Group identified estimated annual savings of £81,277 for their buildings. This included measures such as lighting replacement, improved building energy management system (BEMS) controls, employee engagement and the installation of renewable energy.

Although we haven’t touched on Transport in this article, the same Group identified cost savings of £191,108 which could be delivered through initiatives including the introduction of minimum vehicle standards for grey fleet and hire cars and investment in ‘smarter driving’ training.

As time ticks on and we begin to roll towards consideration of the next audit, there is an opportunity to plan and identify all of the options generated from this compliance exercise: i.e. which route should be taken and more importantly that this should be viewed as an integral part of an energy strategy, rather than the view previously taken that this is additional short term compliance reporting.

Key to the next stage will be benchmarking; for some this will highlight progression, the path to a more efficient use of energy and understanding that any investment made should be beneficial to the business, not just in financial terms, but also social and environmentally.

• Briefing papers on Gaining Value from ESOS Audits, as well as Energy Management and Building Controls can be downloaded for free, links can be found at www.esta.org.uk.

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