A circular economy – is your business ready to benefit?

The rise in extreme weather events around the world has lit a fire under the global climate movement (quite literally). This is especially true in the UK, where COP26 will take place this October. For this reason, many consider a circular economy to be the best approach in navigating a post-Covid economic recovery.

A circular economy is based on resource efficiency and would help propel the UK’s path towards net zero. Fortunately, a research programme initiating the country’s shift to a circular economy launched in May. The initiative, encompassing 34 universities and 200 industry partners, aims to ease the transition away from taking, making and disposing.

We take a look at what the circular economy means and how UK businesses stand to gain from this approach.

What is a circular economy?

A circular economy is designed to make resources as sustainable and efficient as possible. This means reducing, reusing and recycling resources as much as possible to extend their value and reduce waste.

The main principles behind a circular economy are:

  • Design out waste and pollution.
  • Keep products and materials in use.
  • Regenerate natural systems.

While it is clear that a circular economy can benefit the UK from an environmental perspective, the advantages of this transformation aren’t just climate-related: UK businesses stand to gain as well.

A 2015 study has shown that a circular economic approach could offer costs savings of over half a billion euros by 2030 in Europe alone. It stands to reason that this approach would also benefit those businesses seeking to make financial savings through increased efficiency.

Why should we accelerate our transition to a circular economy?

Each year, Earth Overshoot Day creeps progressively closer. This is an annual milestone, marking when we have used up the natural resources that can be regenerated in a single year. In 2019 and 2021 it fell on 29 July, the earliest date on record.

This means that until the end of the year, the global economy is operating in what is being called an “ecological deficit”. Humanity currently uses 74% more resources than the planet is able to regenerate each year – the equivalent of 1.7 Earths.

In this global culture of waste and inefficiency, the UK is far from unimpeachable – our own national Overshoot Day fell on 19 May this year. The need to transition to a circular economy is becoming more urgent.

How can I prepare my business for a circular economy?

Think about which resources are critical to your business and how you could use them more efficiently. Here are a few areas to consider:

Utilities & Energy

Utilities are usually an excellent starting point, as most businesses need electricity, water and heating. Investing in metering and sub-metering technology across your sites means that you can track these resources and identify areas of waste. A study from the non-profit Club of Rome concluded that installation services for these types of improvements would be central to realising a circular economy in Europe.

Onsite generation may also be a pragmatic energy option for your business. This sustainable solution offers self-sufficiency and energy stability. Onsite generation can play a significant role on the road to net zero. Not to mention, you can avoid rising non-commodity costs which make up a large portion of energy bills.

Waste Management

Waste management is another easy and pragmatic step for businesses looking to adopt a circular approach. The UK generated 222.2 million tonnes of total waste in 2018. Of that, commercial and industrial waste accounted for almost a fifth (19%). This demonstrates the pressing responsibility on these sectors to adopt responsible waste management practices.

Sustainable Design

In November 2020, the UK government invested £22.5m into five new circular research centres. At the heart of this new funding scheme was the development of sustainable design and disposal principles. These centres will explore and improve the processes of several heavily polluting sectors in the UK.

Sectors under the microscope include textiles, metals, construction, chemical production and electronics waste. Construction alone produces a shocking 154m tonnes of mineral waste per year – enough to fill 30,000 Olympic swimming pools.

How can EIC help?

At EIC, we support the transition to a circular economy by leading our clients towards efficiency and sustainability. Our comprehensive services cover metering and monitoring, waste management, carbon compliance, and even guidance regarding onsite generation.

Whether you are looking to take the first step in becoming more circular, or revolutionising your business to be as sustainable as possible, EIC can help.

To learn more about how we can help you accelerate the shift to a circular economy, contact us at EIC today.

Mandatory display of annual energy certificates to be extended

In a new scheme proposed by the government, all larger commercial and industrial buildings will be mandated to display annual energy certificates. This will initially affect offices over 1,000m2of which there are approximately 10,000 in England and Wales. However, the proposal includes plans to extend to more varied sites in the future, including smaller buildings. So, why the change and how might it impact businesses in the UK?

What does the proposal include?

Currently, large commercial buildings are required to display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) only if their total useful floor area is over 500 square metres, is frequently visited by the public, and an EPC has already been produced for the building’s sale, rental or construction. EPCs measure the building emission rate (kgCO2/m² per year) and primary energy use (kWh/m² per year) for the core HVAC and building fabric assets.

EPCs are valid for 10 years, once an EPC reaches the ten year point and expires, there is no automatic requirement to produce a new one. A further EPC will only be required when the property is next sold, let or modified.

In October 2019, the Government told the Climate Change Committee that it would consult on introducing a new scheme that would rate commercial and industrial buildings based on their actual energy consumption and carbon emissions.

As a result of this, the government launched a new consultation called ‘Introducing a Performance-Based Policy Framework in large Commercial and Industrial Buildings in England and Wales’. This is the first step towards introducing a national performance-based policy framework that aims to reduce energy consumption and emissions.

How does this differ from DECs?

A Display Energy Certificate (DEC) rates public sector buildings over 250m2 based on actual energy consumption, so why not simply expand this to commercial buildings? According to the proposal, the new rating framework will look to modernise and go beyond what (DECs) currently offer.

Why the change?

Larger office buildings use over 53% of the energy used by all commercial and industrial buildings. This means that more frequent audits and stricter oversight will help to root out waste and reduce overall consumption. Success from similar policies has already been seen in countries like Australia who reduced consumption by 34% in 10 years with the National Australian Built Environment Rating System.

In this global push for energy efficiency and retrofitting, the UK is falling behind. Since 2016, similar requirements have been mandatory in all non-residential buildings over 500m2 throughout the European Union.

What are the benefits of the proposal?

Mandating more frequent energy evaluations will help to identify areas of inefficiency or, at the very least, raise awareness around energy consumption. While retrofitting the UK’s predominantly old building stock is a daunting task, the benefits could be enormous. This initiative alone is predicted to save British businesses over £1 billion annually and reduce carbon emissions by 8m tonnes when completed.

The Government is also considering including waste, water usage and air quality standards. None of these are currently required for either EPCs or DECs, and could lead to further cost savings for businesses.

How can EIC help?

The government plans to introduce the new rating system in 3 phases over the 2020s. The 1st phase is aimed at the office sector and has been planned to start in April 2022. EIC helps its clients stay informed and prepared for policy shifts such as these. In a net zero economy, staying ahead of the curve will be crucial to business resilience and growth.

As emission reduction targets become more important, energy reporting will become an essential part of managing a successful business or property. EIC can help you stay compliant with fast-changing legislation by streamlining and simplifying any and all of your energy admin. Our energy specialists have extensive experience with EPBD requirements including DECs, EPC and TM44 certification. We can go beyond mandatory reporting and certification to ensure you are as sustainable and energy-efficient as possible.

EIC can help you stay ahead of the curve. To find out more contact us today.

Learning at work week – how EIC can help

Our capacity for learning is constantly growing. As we adapt and develop, so does our desire to further educate ourselves. For this reason the Learning at Work Week campaign was created. Since launching in 1999 as Learning at Work Day, the celebrations have now been elongated to a week, and are continuing to grow each year.

The programme focuses on encouraging ‘lifelong learners’ to extend their opportunities to learn by utilising time within the work-place. This will become a vital factor in the UK’s pathway to net zero. For a company to reduce energy, costs and environmental impacts, education and teamwork is vital. While utilising renewable energy sources continues to fast track us towards our net zero targets, continuing to educate ourselves allows us to understand the world around us and what it needs to survive.

We take a look at what the national campaign consists of, how it can help in the long term and how EIC can assist you in learning at work.

What is learning at work week?

Learning at work week is an annual event that spotlights the benefits of learning within the work-place. Running from the 17th-23rd of May, the campaign aims to stimulate curiosity and deepen connections with colleagues.

This year’s theme is ‘Made for Learning’, which has been split into three strands; human = learning, human = curiosity and human = connecting. The campaign works to show that education can carry on at any age, in any place, and that there is always more to learn. The organisers of the campaign offer several online events and activities, from creative pursuits to numeracy challenges. They are also encouraging work places to set their own educational goals depending on their individual teams.

The highly celebrated week is also the perfect time to teach staff about the importance of sustainability. Following the announcement of net zero targets by many countries across the world, the focus on a green future has never been more prominent. Schools, colleges and universities are working environmental studies into their daily syllabus, so why not work-places?

Setting sustainable aims and objectives or implementing green initiatives allows workplaces to reduce energy bills at no or relatively low-cost measures. By simply educating staff on the beneficial impacts lower energy consumption could have, businesses can reduce their energy bills significantly.

EIC’s energy saving training

At EIC, we understand that education can play a huge part in paving the way for a sustainable future. Our vast experience in energy management and team training allows us to further educate employees on the importance of efficiency.

Through training in sustainable strategies, energy management and efficiency, we are able to provide our clients with a comprehensive list of educational options. These strategies allow companies to learn more about how to reduce energy usage and expenditure. We are also able to visit your organisation to train your staff (or in house trainer) on site.

Our goal at EIC is to integrate sustainability and smart energy usage into every part of your business. This is why we offer an online energy awareness course that provides education on saving energy and water in the workplace. This information comes in the form of a handy booklet, gives simple and effective ways to save energy day-to-day. Actions as simple as turning off lights when you leave a room or powering down computers overnight can make a significant difference. Whether they are big or small, every sustainable measure is helping to reduce emissions and preserve the world around us.

Some of our other available sustainable services include:

  • Assessing your businesses situation
  • Monitoring your usage
  • Setting goals
  • Creating communications
  • Measuring and displaying results

Get in touch to hear more about our energy saving training and how we can help you towards your sustainable future.

Greenwashing – what is it and why should businesses avoid it?

As the world shifts towards a more sustainable future, consumers are opting for greener alternatives. And a growing pressure to ‘get green’ means that businesses are desperate to show their values align with environmental issues. This can sometimes result in ‘greenwashing’.

Without the correct knowledge, businesses risk prioritising superficially appealing demands to satisfy conscious consumerism. But as businesses around the world pledge to sustainability, indications of greenwashing can often go unnoticed.

Persistent greenwashing can undermine the importance of sustainability. As a consumer, trying to identify eco-friendly brands can be challenging enough. And with added greenwashed businesses, this task can feel overwhelming and next to impossible.

So, what is greenwashing and how can businesses avoid it?

What is greenwashing?

Coined in 1986 by environmentalist Jay Westerveld, ‘greenwashing’ refers to misinformation provided by a business to falsely present itself as environmentally friendly.

More often than not, greenwashing happens due to a lack of knowledge. While sustainability continues to become a more prominent topic of conversation, so does the pressure to comply. This means companies are increasingly keen to exhibit their sustainable credentials, even if they don’t have environmental expertise.

Greenwashing often distracts from significant environmental issues such as climate change and pollution. It can also misdirect environmentally conscious customers towards dis-ingenuine products. This is because it can be hard to differentiate between well intentioned businesses with those that are performatively green. ‘The six sins of greenwashing’, is a list of indicators that can help consumers spot a business that has been greenwashed.

The six sins of greenwashing

The six sins of greenwashing

No proof: Claims made about a lessening of a businesses environmental impact are not verified by third party certifications.

Vagueness: Broad, insubstantial or convoluted claims such as ‘all natural’, ‘made with recycled materials’ or ‘eco-friendly’, with no further information.

The hidden trade-off: Marketing a product or service as ‘green’ by a narrow definition that disregards other environmental impacts. An example of this was fast food chain McDonald’s switch to paper straws. Although consumers may have welcomed this change initially, it was soon revealed that these straws were still unrecyclable.

Irrelevance: Although the claim may be true, it is unrelated to the company or product.

Lesser of two evils: Touting one good sustainable aspect of the business while ignoring greater environmental harm.

Fibbing: The sin of outright lying, this was seen very clearly in the case of the Volkswagen scandal of 2015. The car company admitted to cheating emissions tests by fitting defeat devices to vehicles in question. This allowed the company to use proprietary software to detect emission tests and in turn reduce levels. Whilst they were knowingly greenwashing their products, in reality they were releasing 40x the permitted limit of nitrogen oxide pollutants.

How can businesses avoid greenwashing?

In the run up to the UK’s net zero commitments, it is within everyone’s interest for businesses to become truly sustainable. Switching to renewables, incorporating low carbon tech and educating staff are some of the ways that businesses can avoid accidental greenwashing.

To promote a sustainable ethos, a business must first achieve sustainability goals. Providing customers with complete transparency not only reassures them of your reliability, but also allows for a wider range of potential clients.

Delivering real change is essential in moving towards a green future. While greenwashing allows businesses to pull in revenue in the short term, it will have serious consequences further down the line.

How can EIC help?

At EIC we prioritise sustainability and transparency. Our expert team are on hand to help your business become as green as possible.

Years of experience allow us to identify the best areas of savings for your business. We believe the future is sustainable and we are dedicated to getting our clients on the right path towards it.

Get in touch to hear how we can help you begin your sustainability journey.

What is driving corporate sustainability?

Rising interest in climate change means businesses are facing increased scrutiny over the environmental and social impacts of their practices. Mandatory carbon reporting already makes corporate sustainability obligatory for many big energy users. And securing funding in the future may entirely rely on a company’s ESG strategy thanks to financial guidelines like the TCFD.

Fortunately, there are many benefits to embracing corporate sustainability beyond ticking boxes. An organisation’s green credentials will only rise in value as the UK races towards its net zero target. Not to mention, at the heart of decarbonisation and sustainability is energy efficiency, which can uncover considerable cost savings.

There are various forces driving corporate sustainability, including a shift in consumer behaviour, policy changes and more ambitious government targets. These forecast a more permanent transformation in the business and finance sectors.

The race to net zero

The real fuel behind the environmental movement at the moment is the global race to net zero. Over the past year, the UK government has introduced new policies and plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. This includes new energy efficiency standards, increased renewable generation, hydrogen development, and a ban on petrol vehicles from 2030.

What is clear is that the green wave is coming.  To stay competitive, businesses will have to create sustainable strategies that prepare them for a net zero economy.

EIC can be your partner in this journey, from the first energy audit through to accreditation. Along the way, we help manage all your energy admin and take the stress out of complex carbon legislation. The path to net zero can be difficult to navigate, but our experienced in-house team of energy specialists provide end-to-end simplification. Giving you peace of mind, and your organisation a green, resilient future.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

In November 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to make alignment with the TCFD guidelines mandatory in the UK. This will apply to most sectors of the economy by 2025 including listed companies, banks, and large private businesses.

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures was established in 2015 by the international Financial Stability Board. It is based on the growing consensus that climate change has immediate effects on economic decisions.

This new step towards mandatory transparency will require a more holistic view of a company’s environmental footprint. It also confirms that investors are growing more aware of climate-related risks and are putting more faith in organisations that plan ahead. For this reason, it can be beneficial for organisations to follow TCFD guidelines, whether they are obligated to do so or not.

Impact investing and the rise of ESG

Environmental, Social and Governance strategies are not new to the corporate sector, but they have become more important in recent years. Now with a heightened focus on climate change and social justice, ESG is becoming essential for securing future investments.

This goes hand-in-hand with the rise in impact investing, which goes beyond mitigating risks and asks – how is your organisation positively impacting the planet? This trend has seen a rise in companies with social or environmental missions.

Why choose true sustainability?

The rise in climate action has led to some companies ‘greenwashing’. This is essentially when a company markets themselves as being ‘green’ without taking real action to reduce their environmental footprint.

There are many benefits to genuine environmental sustainability. The most important being an organisation’s longevity in a changing market.

If the recent shift in policy and finance has taught us anything it is that total transparency will be essential in the future. While ‘greenwashing’ may have some rewards now, it is poor preparation for a net zero economy. And though it may be cheaper in the short term, organisations that are ignoring their energy efficiency are missing out on significant long term savings.

Why choose EIC on your journey to net zero?

At EIC we know that building an environmentally and ethically sound business is not only the smart thing to do, it is the right thing to do. Our in-house team can guide you through energy monitoring, carbon footprinting, green procurement and compliance legislation. Our aim is to provide you with holistic energy management and sustainable solutions that boost your green reputation and financial savings.

Contact us at EIC for a bespoke net zero roadmap for your organisation.

What the new Industrial Strategy means for big energy users

On March 17 2021, the UK government announced their plans for a new Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy. In efforts to reach net zero by 2050, more than £1 billion has been channelled into industry, schools and hospitals. The strategy’s blueprint plans to switch 20 Terawatt hours of the UK’s energy from fossil fuels to low carbon alternatives.

The world’s industry sector generates one quarter of global GDP every year, as well as a significant percentage of jobs. However, industry also makes up a staggering 24% of global energy related carbon emissions. It is for this reason that the decarbonisation strategy is vital in championing a sustainable industrial future.

The strategy aims to cut two-thirds of emissions by 2050, meaning a 90% cut in comparison to 2018 levels. In addition, three megatons of CO2 are expected to be captured from industry by 2030. If this is achieved, the UK would become an international leader in industrial decarbonisation and manufacturing of low carbon products. But what does this mean for big energy users?

How will the decarbonisation strategy impact big energy users?

Carbon pricing

A carbon pricing tool will be introduced that helps assist businesses take account of their emissions by providing them with investment decisions. These measuring tools could potentially save businesses £2 billion in annual costs.

This project will ensure that businesses are maintaining the correct policy framework in switching to low carbon products. New product standards will also ensure that manufacturers are able to clearly identify their products as low carbon.

Financial benefits

It is imperative that this green revolution comes with economic benefits. Through greater energy efficiency, it is predicted that businesses will be provided with commercial opportunities and the chance to save on costs. These opportunities will be available across not only the UK, but global market.

Transforming industrial processes to include low carbon technology will benefit businesses tenfold. Significant costs will be saved on raw materials following a push for more sustainable practices, such as 3D printing and AI. Following the economic downturn created by Covid-19, finding a green recovery for the economy is vital.

Green links

The revamped decarbonisation strategy is heavily linked to the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, in which nine green tech projects will receive a cut of a £171 million grant. Announced last year as a £139 million project, the budget was further raised once the winner’s projects were announced. This challenge was created to support low carbon innovations across nine regions in the UK including Scotland, South Wales, Humber and Teesside.

As part of the Public Sector Decarbonation Scheme, £932 million has already been granted to 429 projects across England. This will fund low carbon heating systems such as heat pumps and, solar roof installations.

The strategy has also seen the emergence of the Infrastructure Delivery Taskforce, otherwise known as ‘Project Speed’. The taskforce will ensure that land planning is fit for low carbon infrastructure. This project will focus on delivering infrastructure that is quick, efficient and sustainable. It could also generate over 80,000 green jobs.

How can EIC help?

At EIC, we provide businesses with comprehensive energy management, as well as next generation energy technology. Our in-house services range from green energy procurement to onsite solar instalment and battery storage.

On the journey towards net zero carbon emissions, it is imperative that the economy has a sustainable Covid-19 recovery. By championing both efficiency and self-sufficiency, EIC are dedicated to finding the most suitable and sustainable solutions for your business. Get in touch to learn more about how EIC can help your business work towards a profitable and environmentally friendly future.

A step-by-step guide to setting up new connections

Refurbishing your premises or expanding to new sites can add complex and time-consuming energy admin to your workload. EIC takes the stress out of this process, coordinating your organisation’s new utility connections in a seamless and hassle-free way. Here is a step-by-step guide of what to expect and prepare for on your new connections journey.

Step 1: Register

The first step is to register your requirements with the relevant parties. This is a good time to reach out to an energy specialist at EIC. We will guide you through the process, answer your questions and translate the technical jargon.

Step 2: Gather information

Moving forward, we will need some details including an idea of your estimated energy usage and your Meter point numbers. For electricity, you will need the Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) which you can get from your local electricity distributor. For gas, you will need the Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN). For this, simply call the MPRN enquiry line. Alternatively, you can get this information from any bills you have received if it’s an existing supply.

If this is a completely new supply, you may not have received these yet, so don’t worry if you don’t have them.

At this point in the process, EIC will send a quote for the new connections service needed. If you are happy with it, we will follow up with a contract and dive in. Our goal is to power up your site or business as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Step 3: Infrastructure plans

Next, infrastructure plans will need drafting. This will mean applications, potential site work considerations, supply contracts and arranging for meter installation.

EIC provides peace of mind throughout this process by liaising with all respective parties and gathering all the necessary technical information. This includes location maps, building layouts, meter positions, and utility loading needs. If there are site works to consider, EIC can help provide temporary builder’s supply. We can also coordinate alteration or rerouting of supply with minimal disruption, and meter removals and disconnections.

setting up new connections

Step 4: Gas and power supply contracts

If you haven’t already, it is time to secure gas and electricity supply contracts. Having established relationships with a range of reputable suppliers, EIC can shop around for options that best fit your organisation’s needs. Whether you need a single connection or multi-site rollout, we can manage and deliver your power and gas requirements with ease. All the while, providing necessary updates and ensuring open communication and transparency.

Step 5: Meter Installation

After contacting the meter operator (MOP) to arrange the appropriate contracts, it is time to install meters and power up your business. EIC can simplify every aspect of this process and coordinate the design, planning and installation, upgrade or removal of your meters.

Your metering solutions will help decide the efficiency of your space and requires a thoughtful and comprehensive approach. EIC’s services extend beyond meter installations for new connections. We also provide everything from smart submetering to next-generation energy management systems. These solutions can help reduce energy costs and cut carbon emissions. Helping to build a sustainable foundation for your business from day one.

Once the meters are installed, we will make sure that they are registered and live on the national database.

Step 6: Bill validation

Once everything is up and running, it is time to run final checks and make sure you are not being overcharged. EIC helps to ensure the billing is accurate by confirming the first invoice received from the supplier reflects the agreed contract rates.

If we removed, upgraded or altered meters, we ensure the final invoice received from the supplier reflects the closing or opening meter readings respectively.

Step 7: Rest easy

By entrusting this process to EIC, project managers can now rest easy knowing that they have been provided with the most reliable, efficient and cost effective energy solutions.

Moving forward, a sustainable energy infrastructure will be essential for any growing business, especially as the UK transitions to a net zero economy. EIC can help you implement and use intelligent building strategies to cut your carbon footprint and boost your savings. This includes IoT building management systems, green lighting solutions, and carbon compliance services.

To begin, or boost, your sustainable energy journey with EIC, contact us today.

12 tips for saving energy this Christmas season

As the holiday season approaches, many will be looking forward to a little indulgence after the tumultuous year we’ve had. While embracing excess is a traditional Christmas pastime, it is often followed by having to save money. We’ve put together a list of our best energy saving tips for businesses so that you can enter the new year on a high both spiritually and financially.

Switch to LED lights

LED lighting remains one of the best energy-saving technologies for businesses but even more so during the Christmas period. Estimates show that 1/5 of all UK energy is on lighting. Combined with supporting technology, like movement sensors and timers, you could reduce your lighting bill by over 80%.

Check your heating system

Heating systems, especially boilers, are often a part of a building’s infrastructure before a business moves in. This means that data on their age and running efficiency could be a black hole until they are actively investigated. Check your boiler this winter to see if it requires maintenance or an upgrade to ensure every unit of energy used for heating is done so effectively.

Drop passive energy consumption

Vampire energy use refers to devices and appliances that draw power even when they are not in use. Get a checklist in place as soon as possible. Delegate responsibility for each employee to switch off their devices before they leave. Also, you might use a power strip or two to simplify this process in areas where a lot of devices are in use at once.

Self-reliant buildings

Building management systems (BMS) have seen a bumper of a year thanks to the pandemic and recent lockdown measures. The ability to remotely manage and monitor your utility usage has never been more valuable. Scheduling programs for light, heat and air flow can be integrated into such a system to help support your energy efficiency.

Aside from energy usage, the right BMS can also protect other utilities from the ravages of winter – frozen pipes included.

Intelligent metering

Alongside BMS, a robust metering set-up can provide a more comprehensive view of your utility usage to better inform policy. Using sub-meters in different areas of a site can also give insight into sources of waste or inefficiency. These can then be addressed before they exact a financial toll during the colder months.

Use curtains wisely

As strange as it might sound, curtains can actually provide huge benefits to a business. While open they allow for natural light to fill the office space, so you can dial back on electricity use. Granted daylight is at a minimum at this time of year, but when it gets dark outside, the curtains provide insulation and help retain residual heat.

Draft-proofing doors and windows during the holidays is also a great way to improve heat efficiency on your real estate. Given that SMEs are estimated to overspend on gas heating by as much as 30%, any improvement seems worthwhile. Also, doing this during the Christmas break will minimise disruption for employees.

Saving energy with LED lighting

Building performance

The introduction of widespread EPC use, and its requirement when leasing new buildings, means there is increased pressure to build and maintain better than we have been. However, there’s plenty of reason to go above and beyond EPC guidelines. Improving your insulation, installing double-glazing, or even just draft proofing your premises can yield significant savings on your energy bills.

Onsite generation

EIC has been shouting from the rooftops about onsite generation for years. Could your own rooftops be suitable for solar panels? If so, you could enjoy reduced energy bills and even a passive income stream. As we step closer to net zero 2050, you will be improving your carbon profile as well.

Conduct an energy audit

Like a smart meter, an energy audit will give you a clearer picture of energy usage in your business. Identifying the points of weakness, such as outdated equipment or inefficient behaviour, means you can develop individual solutions that will improve efficiency system-wide.

Make use of gadgets

Tablets use up to 70% less energy than laptops. If you have or are considering a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy, now is an excellent time to action it. You might also consider providing these devices to staff given how much energy it could save you.

Rethink your kitchen etiquette

As the temperature drops, making hot drinks and food become more tantalising, your staff kitchen will be working overtime. Domestic kettles are one of the biggest energy drains in homes and the same is true in office kitchens. Put up posters encouraging your staff to be more environmentally conscious. Such as only boiling enough water for the drink they make or filling a flask in the morning that can last the whole day.

Hibernate

The holiday season and continuing Covid restrictions will leave a lot of offices empty. During this time consider putting together a shutdown list. This will ensure non-critical systems aren’t left running and draining power.

At EIC, we have supported businesses in improving their energy efficiency since 1975. We currently manage around 12-TWh of energy for clients each year and provide services to support many of the strategies we’ve outlined here.

We can help you to integrate Smart Metering, Building Management Systems and Onsite Generation into your business. To find out how get in touch.

4 Types of Carbon Offset Projects

Resource efficiency and sustainability are already integral to a business’s resiliency. All evidence points to carbon offsets becoming the next piece of the puzzle.

Climate-related policy change and litigation are on the rise across the world. It is clear that the involvement of the business sector in reducing global emissions will soon be unavoidable. This means that companies will have to take responsibility for their carbon footprint. Becoming eco-conscious will give a reputational advantage, as well as future security.

There are concerns around carbon offsets being used as a tool for “greenwashing”. This is a term used for a company masking its unethical behaviour with a green veil of traded carbon credits or PPAs. This is a valid concern, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But as we move further and faster towards a net zero economy, genuine “greenness” will carry more weight.

While there are shades of green when it comes to the carbon market, carbon offsetting projects can facilitate valuable environmental and social projects. The benefits of which can extend above and beyond the initial reduction in carbon.

How do carbon offset projects and credits work?

Every tonne of emissions reduced by an environmental project creates one carbon offset or carbon credit. Companies can invest in these projects directly or buy the carbon credits in order to reduce their own carbon footprints.

Carbon credits are tradeable on the market and can be controversial in how easy they are to attain. However, the concept is the same: a company is more or less investing in a green project in order to balance their own emissions.

 

Four main types of carbon offset projects

Forestry and Conservation

Reforestation and conservation have become very popular offsetting schemes. Credits are created based on either the carbon captured by new trees or the carbon not released through protecting old trees. These projects are based all across the world, from growing forests right here in the UK to replanting mangroves in Madagascar, to “re-wilding” the rainforests of Brazil.

Forestry projects are not the cheapest offset option, but they are often chosen for their many benefits outside of the carbon credits they offer. Protecting eco-systems, wildlife, and social heritage is significant for companies offsetting their carbon emissions for the corporate social responsibility (CSR) element.

There is some grey area in forestry offsetting. In the past, it has been difficult to distinguish just how much carbon is being reduced through forestry projects. Fortunately, thanks to emerging new technologies, methods of sustainable reforestation and calculating the benefits have greatly improved.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy offsets help to build or maintain chiefly solar, wind or hydro sites across the world. By investing in these projects, a company is boosting the amount of renewable energy on the grid, creating jobs, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, and bolstering the sector’s global growth.

Take, for example, The Bokhol Plant in Senegal. This project is one of the largest of its kind in West Africa, providing 160,000 people with access to renewable energy. It also saves the government $5 million a year and creates jobs in the region. Plus, the profits from selling carbon credits are often fed back into local community projects.

Community projects

Community projects often help to introduce energy-efficient methods or technology to undeveloped communities around the world. There are many potential benefits to these projects that far surpass carbon credits. Projects like this do not only help to make entire regions more sustainable, they can provide empowerment and independence that can lift communities out of poverty. This means that projects that were, at one time, purely philanthropic can now provide organisations with direct benefits like carbon credits.

For example, the female-led Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Ethiopia provides clean water to communities by fixing and funding long-term maintenance for boreholes. How does this reduce carbon emissions? Families will no longer have to burn firewood to boil water, which will protect local forests, prevent carbon emissions and reduce indoor smoke pollution. In addition to the health and environmental benefits, the project is managed by female-led committees that provide work to local women.

The Darfur Sudan Cookstove Project replaced traditional cooking methods like burning wood and charcoal often inside the home, with low smoke stoves in Darfur, Sudan. This works to reduce the damaging health effects and emissions of indoor smoke, as well as the impacts of deforestation. This project also employs women in the region and helps to empower women and girls who now spend less time collecting firewood and cooking.

Waste to energy

A waste to energy project often involves capturing methane and converting it into electricity. Sometimes this means capturing landfill gas, or in smaller villages, human or agricultural waste. In this way, waste to energy projects can impact communities in the same way efficient stoves or clean water can.

One such project in Vietnam is training locals to build and maintain biogas digesters which turn waste into affordable, clean and sustainable energy. This reduces the methane released into the atmosphere. And helps protect their local forests which would otherwise be depleted through sourcing firewood.

When and why are carbon offsets used?

Energy efficiency, clean energy usage, and sustainable business strategies can be very effective in reducing an organisation’s emissions. But there are various scopes to the greenhouse gas emissions that organisations must consider.

Scope 1: Direct emissions from company operations such as company vehicles or factories
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from company operations such as purchased electricity generated by fossil fuels
Scope 3: Indirect emissions from company supply chains such as shipping, business travel, and raw material extraction

Completely eliminating carbon emissions through mitigation methods is not always possible. That’s where carbon offsetting comes in.

How can EIC help reduce your carbon footprint?

It is important to take steps to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible before considering carbon offsets. Carbon credits should certainly not be used to buy an organisation a clean conscience or create a mirage of sustainability for consumers and/or clients. Carbon offsetting is a valuable tool, and when used to supplement a company’s mitigation efforts, creates a genuinely sustainable and resilient foundation.

At EIC, we offer comprehensive energy and carbon services to help reduce our clients’ carbon footprint in a sustainable way. Our team of experts can help advise on energy efficiency, clean energy solutions, monitoring carbon emissions, and carbon credits.

To learn more about our services contact us at EIC.

TCFD: 4 key points from the recommendations

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was established in 2015 by the international Financial Stability Board. It is based on the growing consensus that climate change has immediate effects on economic decisions. Investors are growing more aware of climate-related risks and putting more faith in organisations that are planning ahead.

In a recent series of environmental measures from the government, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to make alignment with the TCFD guidelines mandatory. This will apply to most sectors of the economy by 2025 including listed companies, banks, and large private businesses. This part of the green recovery plan aims to bolster the UK’s position as a global leader for green finance.

“By taking as many equivalence decisions as we can in the absence of clarity from the EU, we’re doing what’s right for the UK and providing firms with certainty and stability.”
– Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Can increased transparency help achieve net zero and a stable green economy? We look at the key points and benefits of the guidelines for the TFCD.

What are climate-related risks?

The Task Force broke down climate-related risks into two major categories:

  • risks related to the transition to a lower-carbon economy, and
  • risks related to the physical impacts of climate change.

Transition risks include shifts in policy and litigation, market, technology and reputation. Organisations are already seeing this impact with climate-related litigation and policy changes rising. Costs of operation, raw materials, and products are all vulnerable to shifts in policy, technology, and markets. And changes in consumer preferences and customer behaviour must also be taken into account.

Physical risks involve the effects of climate change on the natural world. These are broken down into two categories: acute and chronic risk. Acute risk involves extreme weather events such as wildfires or floods. Chronic risk refers to longer-term shifts in climate patterns. These could affect anything from an organisations supply chain to their employees’ safety.

two people working on a white board

What are climate-related opportunities?

In light of the potential risks posed by climate change, the TCFD also recommends several opportunities. These are solutions that can reduce risk and provide organisations with long-term stability.

  • Resource efficiency: Making your buildings and transportation as efficient as possible by integrating intelligent energy management, reducing water usage and consumption, and recycling.
  • Energy source: Implementing the use of clean energy sources through procurement or onsite generation and taking advantage of policy incentives.
  • Products and services: Developing low-emission goods or services and/or innovative climate-related products.
  • Markets: Having access to new markets and assets and use of public-sector incentives.
  • Resilience: Boosting financial and reputational stability by adopting sustainable solutions such as energy efficiency and supporting renewable energy.

What are the recommended disclosures?

There are four recommendations laid out by the task force for disclosures.

  • Governance: Disclosure of the board’s oversight on, and management’s role in, assessing and managing climate-related risks and opportunities.
  • Strategy: Disclosure of the short and long term climate-related risks and opportunities, their impact on the organisation, and the resilience of the strategy in place to manage those risks and opportunities.
  • Risk Management: Disclosure of the organisation’s process for identifying, assessing and managing risks, and how this is integrated into the organisation’s overall risk management.
  • Metrics and Targets: Disclosure of the metrics used to assess risks – Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, the risks they pose, and the targets in place to manage risks and opportunities.

What are the benefits of implementing TCFD?

In the future green economy, disclosures like these will be crucial for a company’s sustainability and resiliency. Implementing TCFDs will help companies to identify and assess the risks posed by climate change. They can then address their structural weaknesses and implement mitigation and adaptation efforts to future-proof their business. Organisations that do this will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t when it comes to future funding and investments.

At EIC we are experienced in helping clients mitigate climate-related risks. Through our unrivalled energy management services and cutting-edge technology, we can help with most of the TCFD’s recommendations. From resource efficiency and clean energy to your carbon compliance, our goal is to simplify your sustainability journey. For more information on future-proofing your organisation, contact us at EIC.

Energy management: a profitable path to net zero

While the UK may be just barely climbing out of a recession, we remain in the throes of a global pandemic and on the brink of a major political separation. In the broader business environment, it seems uncertainty is the only certainty we have in the coming year. It is, therefore, vital for UK businesses to look inward for opportunities to save and survive. We look at how energy management could provide a clear path to profitability and carbon neutrality, even in hard times.

 

Waste not, want not

David Attenborough has said one thing everyone can do to help save the planet is “don’t waste anything, don’t waste electricity, don’t waste food, don’t waste power”. Unfortunately, this is more difficult than it sounds. Waste is intrinsically wrapped up in the convenience of our daily lives in small but impactful ways.

Thankfully, it’s becoming common knowledge that a wasteful life isn’t a sustainable one, and a wasteful business plan isn’t a profitable one. Since energy is one of an organisation’s largest costs, efficiency is key in building a resilient foundation for the long term success of a company.

Intelligent energy management is a holistic approach to energy optimisation, involving smart metering, identifying inefficiencies and managing energy-saving solutions. At EIC we don’t just find and fix problems, we seek out opportunities that will support sustainable growth.

Data-driven energy optimisation

The energy grid is evolving, and systems will have to adapt as we move towards a flexible energy landscape. Data-driven energy optimisation could be the key to business profitability as well as deep carbon reductions.

Gathering and understanding data through advanced metering provides insight into how energy is being used and possibly wasted. Identifying these areas of inefficiency is essential for finding solutions that reduce consumption and lower costs. This provides businesses with savings they didn’t know were there, a crucial service in uncertain times such as these.

At EIC we offer a range of services that can revolutionise your utilities. From installing sub metering and innovative lighting solutions to our next generation smart building controls. These systems integrate our clients’ critical energy systems in a single, remotely-managed platform. This means businesses can manage their buildings in real-time, saving valuable time, money, and hassle.

How can we achieve net zero through energy optimisation?

As carbon and climate change risk reporting is made mandatory for companies across the UK, reducing carbon emissions will become a top priority. Whilst carbon capture has been a large part of this conversation, energy efficiency cannot be overlooked as a powerful and cost-efficient decarbonisation tool.

“Energy efficiency is not just about saving energy, it’s about tackling economic, environmental and social issues at the same time.” – Harry Verhaar, Philips lighting

If mitigation methods such as energy efficiency were more widely adopted, they could provide stable carbon reductions across the UK. Over time, this would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as well as future carbon capture and storage efforts. Not to mention carbon offsets and credits which have their varying degrees of ‘greenness’.

This isn’t to say that capturing carbon won’t have a pivotal part to play in decarbonisation. But these methods can’t be solely relied upon as a silver bullet. Especially not when there are mitigation methods that offer businesses sustainable savings and future economic stability.

The whole package

At EIC we offer comprehensive sustainable energy management. Our goal is to completely optimise our clients’ energy usage, going beyond monitoring and finding sustainable, cost-efficient solutions. These services include green energy procurement and exploring decentralised energy options such as onsite solar generation and battery storage.

Generating your own renewable energy supplies in tandem with battery storage can significantly cut your emissions. As well as generate additional revenue through Demand Side Response (DSR) schemes.

We can also help maximise your CO2 savings and simplify the compliance process so that you don’t get tied up in tricky legislation.

“In this next phase of the energy and carbon markets’ evolution, it will be imperative for UK businesses to get ahead of the legislative curve to maintain and drive profitability. This will mean adopting energy management solutions that pair upstream procurement strategies with downstream optimisation and sustainability strategies.” – Luke McPake, Director of Sales at EIC

Transforming your wider energy strategy to encompass not only efficiency but self-sufficiency will become vital in a recovering economy. And reducing waste of any kind will also be vital in protecting a healing planet. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a sustainable future for your organisation.

ESOS Phase 2 Compliance – Act Now

While it may seem like a costly and time-intensive process, there are financial opportunities and benefits to be found in this mandatory scheme.

In Phase 1 of ESOS, we at EIC identified a total of 527GWh worth of energy savings for our clients, equivalent to £49 million in cost savings. If you act now, you could avoid fines of £90,000 and reap the rewards of a new green plan.

What is ESOS?

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is a mandatory compliance scheme in the UK, derived from Article 8 of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. ESOS’s aim was to reduce EU energy consumption by 20% by the end of 2020. ESOS occurs in four-yearly phases and introduces regular energy audits that highlight energy savings for large businesses.

Who needs to comply?

Public bodies are not affected. Large organisations that must comply are classified as those with:

  • More than 250 employees or
  • A turnover of more than £50 million and an annual balance sheet total of more than £43 million

ESOS Phase 2 Updates

The ESOS deadline for Phase 2 was 5 December 2019. Any qualifying organisations who did not complete their assessment and submit a compliance notification by the deadline are at risk of enforcement action. Penalties issued in Phase 1 for compliance failures ranged up to £45,000 with a potential maximum fine of £90,000.

Compliance Notices

ESOS Regulators are currently issuing compliance notices to all UK corporate groups who they believe should have participated but haven’t yet received a notification of completion from.

If you receive this, you must inform the regulators whether you are:

  • in the process of completing your compliance, or
  • provide evidence you have already submitted your notification, or
  • advise that you do not qualify for ESOS

ESOS Submissions

You can find a published list of all businesses who have made a submission via the ESOS notification system as of 1 February 2020 here.

Further evaluation of the effectiveness of energy audits and ESOS can be found here.

business analysis with colleagues

ESOS Support

If you need urgent support with your Phase 2 compliance, talk to EIC today. Our dedicated team of ESOS Lead Assessors and highly-trained Energy Auditors will work hard to help you comply as soon as possible, and support you in any conversations with the Environment Agency.

After ESOS Compliance

It’s vital that you don’t let your compliance go to waste. ESOS aims to highlight where companies can make energy improvements, cut wastage and lower costs, use these opportunities to improve your operations and make significant energy savings. The most common areas for energy savings are lighting, energy management through smarter energy procurement, metering, monitoring and controls, and air conditioning.

Reach out

Whether it’s ESOS, SECR, or CCA, EIC will work with you to reach compliance deadlines and targets. Talk to EIC on 01527 511 757 or email info@eic.co.uk if you need any further advice on ESOS or SECR. We’re here to help.