Life after ESOS?

Most organisations that qualify to take part in the UK’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) will have already taken steps to comply with the requirement to carry out energy audits by the 5th December 2015.

Posted on 30 June 2015.

But how worthwhile will the whole exercise prove to be and what happens now?  If all an organisation does is a tick box exercise to achieve compliance and then once done it is then put on a shelf to gather dust, it will not only have been a waste of money but will also waste the potential to save costs and carbon in the future.

It must also be remembered that ESOS is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of energy saving opportunities.  Anyone who thinks that their compliant audit will give them a comprehensive and complete list of energy saving opportunities, think again.  ESOS only requires you to survey a representative selection of sites.

 We recently had an example of a client with four department stores who was being told by another consultant that each of the stores had to be fully audited as they were of differing size, age and construction.  As the stores were using energy in the same way through HVAC, lighting and point of sale equipment, only one of the stores actually required auditing.  Yes, the opportunities for saving energy in each would be different and yes, auditing each of them to identify energy saving opportunities would result in the most potential savings, but this is not what ESOS requires.

This means that in an ESOS compliant audit the opportunities to save energy identified could be only a relatively small percentage compared to how many there actually are and many significant ones may well be missed.  Anyone serious about energy saving should be looking to go beyond compliance and be auditing all their assets to identify the maximum opportunities possible.

ESOS is just the beginning and should be seen as a catalyst for change and only one step on an energy savings journey which ideally ends with an holistic energy plan delivering sustainable energy savings.

If you don’t know where to begin, the energy management standard ISO 50001 is a great     practical place to start as it provides a framework of requirements, even if you are not aiming to achieve certification.  Although, if you do attain certification, this will give you automatic compliance with ESOS the next time around.  If this seems like a daunting task, don’t forget, you don’t have to do this all at once.  You can use the building blocks of the standard and implement these progressively starting with the areas that give you the biggest return on investment. 


The building blocks of an holistic energy plan

Using these building blocks you can put together your own specific 2-3 year plan that suits your business, which should encompass both technical and behavioural projects.

When looking for ways to save energy, there is a tendency to look at facilities services and processes but behavioural change is absolutely critical to achieving results.

As an example of just how significant behavioural change can be, we have a client that implemented a £480k LED lighting improvement project and achieved a very respectable energy saving of 7½% of total site consumption.  The same client then invested a tenth of this amount in energy training and achieved the same verified savings (confirmed using IPMVP).

The government is not going to achieve its carbon savings targets if organisations do the minimum. ESOS is the tip of the iceberg of energy savings opportunities. I would encourage all organisations to explore below the surface and see this as just the beginning of their energy saving journey.