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 who 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 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.

Carbon Neutral: the newest Climate Change war cry

In 2019 EU leaders endorsed the European Commission’s Green Deal, a strategy through which to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Since then there’s been a slow but steady rise in legislation around, and investment in, renewable energy, low carbon solutions and, more recently, carbon sequestration and storage. The objective has recently been embraced by other global leaders, with recent 2050 pledges from Japan and South Korea. Even China has announced a net zero commitment by 2060.

We break down what carbon neutral means, why it is crucial in the fight against climate change, and how we can achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

 

What does carbon neutral mean?

When we hear the word carbon, we often think of something harmful that needs getting rid of, which isn’t entirely accurate. Carbon, after all, is a part of all living things, and there is a natural cycle that balances the carbon emitted with the carbon absorbed by plants and soil.

The problem is that humans have disrupted this balance by emitting more carbon than can be absorbed. Through the use of fossil fuels, the deforestation of rainforests, massive population growth, overfishing, and harmful agricultural developments, we are essentially poisoning our planet.

Carbon neutral means there’s a balance between carbon emissions and absorption, so to achieve this we have to emit less and absorb more. This can be done through the adoption of renewable energy, carbon sequestration, reforestation projects, and regenerative farming practices. This holistic approach to fighting climate change could put us on a path towards a more sustainable future.

What it means for the energy industry

Achieving carbon neutrality will require action from all sectors of the economy, the most important being the energy industry. Energy production and use is currently responsible for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. Large-scale policy will play a large part in propelling the necessary transformation across the energy industry in order to cut and even capture carbon emissions. However, it will take action from every sector within the energy industry, from buildings being made more energy efficient to our energy sources themselves.

This will mean more commitments to renewable energy options in the UK, more efficient utility monitoring and management, as well as improved energy storage options. We will have to move towards an integrated, flexible energy system that exploits local resources and reduces our reliance on imported oil and gas. There are also recent advancements in carbon sequestration and storage that can be joined with energy generation itself which can make zero or low carbon energy options carbon negative.

As with any sector, change in the energy industry requires action on the parts of everyone who produces, invests in, or consumes energy. Every building and organisation can make a difference, and EIC can help.

 

How EIC is working towards Carbon Neutral

Major changes have to be made in every sector of the economy, from the food we grow to the way we travel. We at EIC are doing everything we can to support the changes needed within the energy industry. By helping organisations monitor and reduce their carbon footprints, navigating tricky compliance legislation, and advising on green energy procurement options, we are simplifying sustainability for businesses.

Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme: Time running out

The launch of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme last week presents an opportunity for public sector organisations to reduce their emissions using government funding. Organisations should begin formulating applications now to have the best chance of being funded.

Subsidising Energy Efficiency

Salix Finance is backing the scheme and it combines two major funds. First, the Capital Grant Scheme (CGS) aims to support heat and electricity decarbonisation efforts in certain public sector buildings. The second will help create thousands of jobs within the green development sector.

Under the CGS, public sector bodies can apply for financing for up to 100% of the costs of capital energy-saving projects fitting certain criteria. The criteria are split into four categories, which, in tandem, take a holistic view of decarbonising building heating.

This scheme will act as a non-domestic version of the Green Homes Grant, helping to address the carbon footprint of heating in UK commerce and public bodies.

Since applications to the fund will be subject to Salix’ discretion, organisations must have a robust understanding of their current energy expenses as well as accurate means to estimate the savings they stand to make.

The technologies supported by CGS are all focused on driving down the CO2 emitted in building heating. Naturally, low-carbon heating solutions like heat pumps and heat networks are deemed eligible.

Technology able to reduce heat demand or offset energy from the National grid also qualifies. Solar PV, battery storage, and metering systems fall under this category.

Window closing fast

Organisations can use this fund to subsidise the cost of external support for decarbonisation projects in a variety of ways. This includes the employment of technical expertise in putting together applications for the fund, support for project delivery, and guidance on creating a long-term decarbonisation plan.

However, applications must be submitted by the 11th of January and any planned projects delivered by the end of March 2021. Organisations should take this timeline into account when considering the scale of any project they wish to undertake.

Four months is a considerably small window for an infrastructural overhaul. That means organisations with a decarbonisation framework already in place will have a head start over those that don’t.

However, that is all moot unless applications are in before the deadline in just over ten weeks’ time. It is important to note that the scheme has been open since September 30th and that there is no ceiling on how much of the fund individual projects can apply for.

£1bn might sound like a lot, but it is still finite and approvals are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Organisations are already in a race against time and will want to start approaching sustainability specialists as soon as possible.

At EIC, our 360° Strategic Review offers a variety of channels through which you can boost your decarbonisation efforts. Key amongst these is a focus on implementing appropriate infrastructure for your organisation. A comprehensive solution that includes sub-metering, lighting solutions, on-site solar generation and CHP.

For further information on how we can support your decarbonisation journey, contact us.

 

 

 

 

Can a flexible energy system lead us to net zero?

A recent project launched by Carbon Trust and Imperial College will explore the potential for a flexible energy system and its future role in decarbonisation. EIC looks at what a flexible energy system is and how it can reduce the cost of reaching net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050.

What is a flexible energy system?

New technology has the potential to turn our passive energy system into a smarter, more sustainable one in the very near future. This means modifying generation and/or consumption patterns in reaction to change in demand or price.

There are three main ways to achieve flexibility in the energy system:

  • Interconnection: purchasing power from neighbouring markets at times of peak demand.
  • Storage: storing excess energy and using it at times of peak demand.
  • Flexibility on the demand side: consumers cut their discretionary power use at times of peak demand for financial incentive.

Until now, flexibility in the energy industry has typically been provided on the supply-side. Now it’s becoming clear that demand flexibility will be crucial for balancing the system in order to reduce costs and decrease carbon emissions. With smart meters that can reduce consumption at peak times and financial incentives, demand flexibility could be an easy and rewarding energy option for consumers and energy operators alike. A report from the National Infrastructure Commission says that £200 million a year could be shaved off the UK’s grid operating costs if just 5% of the current peak demand were met through demand-side solutions.

There are also smaller scale assets that could prove just as effective at balancing the grid, like distributed energy resources (DERs) such as nearby or on-site solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps or batteries. By reducing demand on the system, there’s less reliance on non-sustainable energy sources during peak demand periods. These smart solutions are becoming increasingly cost effective and in-demand, evidenced by their sustained fall in price and rising investment interest.

Why the UK should lead the world in smart power

Greener policies have seen increased support in recent years, with an emphasis on renewable energy. A strategy set out in another NIC report for 2020 – 2050 recommended 50% of all generation should be supplied by renewable power by 2030, and an entirely zero-carbon electricity supply by 2050.

The question is, how can this level of renewable integration be implemented in a consistent and cost-effective way?

One of the current issues with renewable generation is it is fairly inflexible, so finding more flexibility through demand, interconnection, and storage is key. It could also be the most cost-efficient way to reach net zero. According to an NIC report, Smart Power, a more flexible power system could save consumers as much as £8 billion a year by 2030.

Finding flexibility with EIC

Achieving more flexibility in the energy system is an integral part of EIC’s client commitment. Through a variety of services, including flexible procurement, smart metering, and many years of experience working with carbon monitoring and compliance, EIC goes to great lengths to offer consumers freedom and flexibility. Our goal is to find the bespoke energy package that best suits your business or property, while simultaneously lowering your costs and carbon emissions.

Find out more about our energy management services.

 

LED lighting: Reducing costs and carbon at the same time

The past decade in carbon savings has been awash with success stories surrounding the installation of LED lighting systems. EIC has summarised a few public sector examples below and guidance on how your properties could benefit from a lighting upgrade.

Success in the NHS

A UK NHS trust recently made facility management news as it implemented a comprehensive upgrade to its lighting systems. Undertaking a site-wide LED installation means that the trust will now enjoy savings in excess of £180,000 annually. Provided these savings remain consistent, the project will have paid for itself within six years.

The gains of the forward-thinking trust are not only measured in pounds and pence; the switch to highly efficient LED lighting, whose lifespan is more than quadruple that of its fluorescent counterparts, also means reduced maintenance as well as a significantly diminished carbon footprint.

Capital gives green light for LEDs

Earlier this year, the city of London underwent a large-scale retrofit of over 8,000 traffic signals, regulatory box signs and push buttons. Upgrading these sites to LED lighting is expected to deliver energy and cost savings of 75% for Transport for London.

“It’s making our infrastructure greener, more sustainable and cheaper to run and not only that but as LEDs are more visible it is making our roads safer…”

– Glynn Barton, TfL’s Director of Network Management

This conversion echoes another 2018 retrofit that saw 25,000 London signals at 900 sites upgraded with similar technology.

Hertfordshire County Council is taking this attitude a step further and has pledged to replace all the street lighting in its seat with LED illumination. The project reached its final stage earlier this year and the council expect it to reduce street lighting CO2 emissions by more than half. In material terms, this equates to 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and £5m saved for the residents of Hertfordshire.

The Power of LED

The commercial picture

The benefits of LEDs are not just public sector, businesses can also make significant savings with this technology. Consider that a 20% reduction in energy costs can have the equivalent economic effect of a 5% increase in sales.

The difference with an LED installation is that it is permanent, and not subject to market conditions.

Traditional lighting actually wastes 95% of the energy it uses on the heat it produces. Since it operates at low temperatures, LED lighting reduces this waste by 90%. This also makes LED a much safer option if the lighting is located near human activity.

By effectively removing this heat source, temperature control systems like air conditioning will operate with greater efficiency. As EIC’s TM44 blog demonstrates, this too can equate to significant savings.

Light the halls

While the office Christmas party may be cancelled this year, it’s worth mentioning the seasonal savings potential of LEDs.

Granted, decorative lighting is not a year-round expense, but incandescent bulbs can run up quite a bill, especially for smaller retail businesses.

Fortunately holiday lights are now also available as LEDs, with several benefits included. Aside from the aforementioned savings, LED lighting is much more durable as well. Epoxy is used in place of glass to create their lenses, so they are highly resistant to breakage.

Bulbs last dozens of holiday seasons before needing replacement and low voltage requirements means many can share a single outlet.

EIC’s Lighting Solutions, including complimentary lighting control systems, has helped dozens of organisations. These controls include movement sensors, time clocks and light sensors which can all support an LED upgrade in reducing costs and CO2 footprint.

The EIC service includes initial surveys to establish the unique needs of a site, later formulating a bespoke proposal. Once installation is complete, EIC will also provide supplementary training to teams within an enterprise to ensure the new equipment is used as effectively as possible.

A full breakdown of this service is available by contacting the EIC team here.

 

Explaining TM44 Inspections: The what, who, when and why

EIC explores the purpose of TM44 inspections, why your organisation might need one and how EIC can help you get one.

 

What is TM44?

TM44 is the accepted guidance for the UK for judging the efficiency of air-conditioning units. The key role of the guidance is to support inspections to comply with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). However, they can provide assistance to any building owner or manager desiring further data on the efficiency of their air-conditioning system. The EPBD1 was initiated in 2003 and replaced a decade later by a recast Directive2.

The legislation required that European members devise ‘measures to establish a regular inspection of air-conditioning systems of an effective rated output of more than 12 kW’.

 

Who needs a TM44?

Not all air-conditioning systems are equal; TM44 focuses on those that use refrigerants for cooling, and parts of other cooling methods such as cooled decks/ceiling slabs or those using aquifers for cooling.

The 12kW figure is a good rule of thumb, making any building owner or manager with a system of that scale subject to TM44. It is important to note that this applies to single large-scale units with an output of 12kW and to individual units that together reach or exceed 12kW.

When is a TM44 necessary?

Inspections timings are relevant here since each mandatory inspection must take place within five years of the previous one. According to TM44 guidance, the initial inspection must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Any system that began service on or after 1st January 2008, must have undergone an initial inspection within five years of the date service began.
  • Systems whose output exceeds 250kW must have undergone inspection no later than 4th January 2009.
  • Systems with a service start date prior to 1st January 2008 and whose output exceeds 12kW must have received inspection by 4th January 2011.

From 6 April 2012, all TM44 air-conditioning inspection reports have been required to be lodged on the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government Energy Performance of Buildings Register where a report and certificate are generated. Accredited assessors and members of the public may access this site to view and download their TM44 certificates and reports.

 

Why is TM44 important?

There are several benefits to having a TM44 inspection. Firstly, a company can avoid penalties for non-compliance. These penalties are costly, inviting a £300 fine per offence – meaning either a non-complying building or multiple units inside a single structure whose combined output is more than 12kW, and if an organisation fails to supply a copy of their inspection report within seven days of request by an enforcement authority, they can incur an additional fixed penalty of £200 per building or unit. Enforcement Officers can check at any time whether a building or unit is compliant.

TM44 is an excellent data gathering opportunity about a major source of utility costs, offering insight on how to:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Reduce electricity consumption
  • Decrease operating costs
  • Diminish carbon emissions
  • Reduce maintenance needs
  • Improve controls and settings
  • Identify technical flaws

The report will also highlight opportunities such as:

  • Improvement to operation
  • Improvements to replace less efficient systems
  • Replacement of oversized systems (scale of the system relative to cooling load)

When viewed with these gains in mind, TM44 can be thought of a necessary process that yields significant benefits down the line.

 

Securing your TM44 with EIC

The EIC team were among the first to receive UK accreditation for the delivery of airconditioning inspections and actively follow any legislative changes so they can keep businesses ahead of the game.

The team can also provide Wrap Reports as standard, offering an overview of essential report findings including reference pictures, additional relevant data and a complete asset list of equipment found.

Alongside this extensive experience, clients will receive additional complimentary intelligence in other areas of sustainable improvement. EIC’s expertise in other fields like Energy Contract Procurement and Intelligent Building Management will position organisations to undertake other sustainable development projects seamlessly, with guidance and security.

For a full breakdown of EIC’s compliance services, and how your organisation can acquire TM44 Certification, get in touch with the EIC team here.

 

1(2002/91/EC)

2(2010/31/EU)

3(Statutory instrument 2012 N0 3118)

 

 

Simplifying Display Energy Certificates

EIC discusses the purpose behind DECs, the benefits they offer and how the EIC carbon team can help you secure one.

What is a DEC?

Display Energy Certificates (DEC) have been a required document in public buildings since 2012. While some structures are exempt, those with floor space of less than 250m2, larger buildings fitting certain criteria must comply. These are properties that are occupied by a public authority and frequently visited by the public.

The certificate summarises the energy performance of the building based on criteria known to affect energy demand and usage. These criteria include the type of building under assessment, its total floor area and fuel use.

Accreditors then measure this data against specific benchmarks to determine the building’s overall energy performance. Newer buildings are more likely to have consolidated record-keeping on a building and their HVAC. However, older properties may need to collate this data from various departments and archives.

Since data might be stored in a multitude of locations and formats, this process can be complex and time-consuming. However, the more intelligence that can be sought, the more valuable the DEC becomes in its ability to help identify sources of energy waste.

Looking at trees through glasses held away from faceWhat are the benefits?

The primary benefit of a DEC is to provide a litmus test for the current energy efficiency of a building. This data can then guide improvement strategies for the structure’s utility usage, thereby reducing their demand and subsequent cost. Only accredited assessors are qualified to analyse and deliver DECs. Part of their service is identifying opportunities for improvement and providing guidance on how to implement these improvements as well.

DECs also communicate your commitment to carbon reduction to visitors, due to the requirement to display them prominently. As consumers become more aware of the effect of their spending habits on the environment, it will dictate the businesses they are willing to interact with. A DEC demonstrates dedication to reduce to or maintain an efficient rating for the building.

Do you need a DEC?

If you are a public authority receiving frequent public visitation, with usable floor space in excess of 250m2, then you will need to display a DEC. The validity period of these certificates does vary depending on building size. The DEC of buildings between 250m2 -1000m2  remains valid for 10 years. However, buildings larger than 1000m2 must renew every year.

Those in need of a DEC or those looking to renew would benefit from shopping around. Ideally looking for a compliance specialist that can offer them the most value with their service.

EIC offers an end-to-end DEC acquisition, starting with a comprehensive site survey if a lack of available data necessitates it. A copy of the accreditation documents will be forwarded to your organisation once the process is complete.

The EIC team pride themselves on providing relief from the complex process of accreditation, allowing business leaders to focus on their own clients and services. To date, EIC has produced over 5,000 DECs and currently manages the renewal process for over 600 sites.

Each of EIC’s EPBD delivery team, have worked within the schemes since their inception, thereby bringing trusted and reliable expertise to your project.

The EIC carbon team provides various compliance services including major carbon-legislative guidance and all EPBD services (EPCs, DECs, TM44). Since these accreditations work in tandem, and share data sets, getting them under one roof can save you some time. While each of these carbon services can be found on EIC’s trusted compliance page, those seeking the DEC offering specifically can find it here.

 

The Hydrogen Age

EIC explores the potential of Hydrogen fuel to decarbonise the UK, its domestic supporters and success it has already enjoyed in the EU.

Hydrogen showing carbon the door

In the wake of COVID-19, economic recovery is now a top priority for the UK government. However, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have both staked their flag in making sure it is a ‘green’ economic recovery. As such, industry leaders – particularly within the energy sector – have reopened the conversation on the role of hydrogen in reaching net zero.

The CCC (Committee on Climate Change) published a report in 2018 summarising its recommendations for a UK hydrogen strategy. The hope is to utilise Hydrogen in the UK’s heating systems, specifically by blending it with natural gas, to reduce its carbon footprint.

UK buildings account for 40% of its energy consumption and 70% of industrial building energy is used on space heating and cooling. With these figures in mind, hydrogen’s value is clear to see provided it can get off the ground.

Unfortunately, there are several roadblocks to hydrogen use on a mass scale. The biggest of these is that it would require an infrastructural overall of current heating systems. Blended gas requires plastic pipes while the vast majority of those in the UK are iron.

In addition, the production of hydrogen fuel is highly carbon-intensive. Fortunately, this embedded carbon can be offset by CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology into its production.

However, these are costly caveats to making hydrogen a viable fuel replacement. Naturally, there are concerns that the government may opt for cheaper, quicker progress that, ironically, may prove unsustainable.

 “On the one hand, we need to put money where it has an immediate economic impact and in the most affected sectors. On the other, we need to keep in mind the long-term benefits of making our economy more resilient.”

Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for energy

Forest and low cloudsPrivate sector rescue

The EU Commission announced in June that it would provide €750 billion for its green recovery plan, reserving €1 billion for R&D into green hydrogen. Simson has stated that hydrogen has the potential to capture 10-16% of the EU’s energy market by 2050.

Following the EU’s lead, industry leaders in the UK approached the government and questioned the absence of hydrogen in both the spring budget COVID recovery plan.

Last month, a letter from the chiefs of four major unions implored the government to move forward on hydrogen development. The leaders of GMB, Prospect, Unison and Unite cited, in the letter, the massive reductions this could offer in the heat, transport and heavy industry sectors. Of course, the development of any new technology sector would also create thousands of jobs.

However, the letter was only one component of the “Hydrogen Strategy Now” campaign led by firms like EDF and Siemens. These companies, along with others supporting the campaign, have stated intentions to invest £1.5bn into hydrogen development.

The government must now seize the initiative and provide the necessary funding and support to make hydrogen happen. Firms that desire to adopt a long-term view of their energy and heat use might benefit from EICs services.

EIC’s combined heat and power solution have saved businesses up to 40% on energy costs. EIC can also provide a  carbon management team able to deliver a comprehensive net-zero strategy. Find out more about the services we offer.

 

EPBD: What you need to know

EIC unpacks Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), it’s origins, purpose and how firms can make sure they are compliant.

The Kyoto Protocol

Two years after the 1992 UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), the Kyoto Protocol emerged as an extension to the conventions primary treaty.

The UNFCCC’s objective is to:

“Stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”

The extension took effect in 1997 and was as much political as it was scientific, viewing the climate crisis from a purely mathematical perspective. The consensus was that industrially developed nations were far greater contributors to climate change than rural and agricultural ones.

CO2 emissions would not be divided equally between the committed nations but rather based on their industrial activity. Subsequently, the EU and its member states committed to binding emission reduction targets which remain in effect today.

Following Kyoto, the EU established EPBD in January 2003 to ensure sufficient CO2 reductions from European buildings. The primary objective is to incentivise widespread improvement of their energy efficiency. The beauty of this that its criteria apply more to industrially developed nations due to their carbon intensity.

What legislative requirements are covered by EPBD?

The UK governments interpretation of embedding EPBD recognises 3 streams of certification, required by both the private and public sectors:

  • DECs (Display Energy Certificates) – required by publicly-owned or funded buildings on an annual basis
  • TM44 / Air Conditioning Inspections – required for all buildings with installed comfort cooling
  • EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) – required for both domestic and non-domestic new builds, majorly refurbished, sold or let out

The certificates are valid for 10 years from issue. EPCs underpin the MEES standard, whereby a building cannot be sold or let with an energy rating below E.

power lines at sunsentBuilding better

As lockdown restrictions ease, and the ‘Build Back Better’ initiative gains momentum, compliance with EPBD will only become more relevant.

The most recent recast of EPBD, in 2010, focuses on new builds and major renovations thereby adopting a long term view of the situation.

EPBD also protects consumers, it requires disclosure of efficiency measures within a property to buyers, to inform them of running costs.

The requirement led to the widespread introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC), one of the major successes of EPBD to date. First introduced in 2007, the UK national database now contains energy performance information on a staggering 40% of homes.

Last year marked the EPBD deadline for all member states to have NZEBs – or Nearly Zero Energy Buildings. The criteria for an NZEB is simply that it has a very high energy performance, made possible by quality insulation and on-site renewable generation.

Since Zero Carbon Homes was scrapped in 2016, EPBD is one of the few legislations that targets the energy performance of buildings.

The fervour in reaching net-zero means that this legislation is here to stay and so firms should be asking how they could ensure they are taking part.

Upgrading for EPBD

Improving the energy performance of a structure needn’t be a complex process, however, it must be an informed one.

EIC’s approach to structural efficiency is twofold, assessing pre-existing assets using integrated metering and monitoring technology. Next, EIC adopts an end-to-end approach, carrying out initial certification, devising and implementing improvements. Finally undertaking a certificate review to demonstrate progress.

Depending on site limitations, EIC can consult on the installation of on-site generation, with a particular focus on solar generation. Thereby lessening a structure’s energy consumption, lowering your utility bills and improving its overall energy profile. View full details of these services, as well as testimonials from past clients.

Private investment, public gain: Green investment after lockdown

EIC discusses the Northvolt gigafactory, and how private funding is now flooding into green investment and sustainability projects.

Recharging capital

It began with grassroots environmentalism, then government mandate and finally, major financial institutions have started supporting a green future in earnest. Support in the form of loans and bonds for sustainable economic development and innovation, specifically solar storage options.

One such investment occurred last Thursday as the European Investment Bank (EIB) issued a €350 million loan to Northvolt for its lithium battery plant.

The site is based in Northern Sweden and is intended to produce the most environmentally-friendly battery storage packs to date. Using 100% renewable energy and locally-sourced materials, it will soften the characteristically high environmental cost of the Lithium-ion batteries it produces.

The cells will be used mainly in cars, which are responsible for 12% of the EU’s current carbon footprint.

Northvolt has already secured a €2bn supply contract with BMW and Volkswagen is interested in collaborating on a similar factory in Germany. The latter of these two is no surprise after VW unveiled plans to convert its Emden production plant to electric vehicle production.

birds eye view of land by the seaLofty ambitions

The gigafactory will have an initial production capacity of 16 GWh per year and be the first of its kind.

Both the investor and supplier share similarly ambitious intentions moving forward as well. Northvolt plans to scale capacity to 40GWh annually while, back in May, EIB stated its intention to increase green investment financing to over €1bn by the end of the year.

China still dominates the solar battery market, of course, producing more than five times that amount in 2019 alone. However, Northvolt and EIB have just set an important precedent and other banks are now joining the green investment fray.

“I believe that EIB financing support for Northvolt has been a textbook example of how our financial and technical due diligence can help crowd in private investors to visionary projects,”

Andrew McDowell, VP EIB

The COVID-19 lockdown has wrought chaos in several energy markets, most notably West Texas Intermediate – which went negative for the first time in April.

Projections show global growth shrinking to -3% after such dramatic losses in this market, as well as many others. Fortunately, the immediate crisis of COVID-19 has not blinkered business and political leaders to the looming threat of climate change.

Despite these losses, April saw a 272% increase of ESG (environmental, social, governance) bonds compared to April last year.

Green investment rush

Finally, investment in green infrastructure has become vogue among Europe’s financiers and firms should take notice. Last week Sadiq Khan promised £1.5bn to upgrade London’s water and gas networks and prepare for more electric vehicle use.

Beyond our shores, Danish investment bank, Saxo, is already making predictions about renewable technology taking over the global market.

“Governments will increase investments and subsidies for ‘green’ industries, starting a new mega trend in equity markets… We believe that these green stocks could, over time, become some of the world’s most valuable companies”

Peter Garnry, Saxo Bank Head of Equity Strategy

Renewable technology rewards boldness and expediency with huge ROI over time. However, the endorsement of institutions like BlackRock and EIB helps reduce risk profiles, making it more attractive to investors.

EIC have championed firms renewable interests for over 40 years, buying and managing approximately 12TWh of energy each year.

The EIC sustainability offering provides carbon compliance, utility management and procurement advice. Combining this expertise under one banner, you and your investors will have all your bases covered when outfitting your firm for a low carbon future.

Success is negative: Carbon negative office spaces

EIC explores the carbon-negative office spaces that are emerging, their role in the green recovery and the technology that make them possible.

Favour the bold

The path to net zero is fraught with obstacles and among these is the carbon intensive nature of the mainstream construction sector. Materials like concrete are extremely resource intensive to produce.

While often offset on a citywide scale, some firms are beginning to focus on the buildings themselves and work sustainability into their initial designs.

Blazing the smoke-free trail are Norwegian architects Snøhetta, who will design exclusively carbon-neutral buildings over the next decade.

The aim is then that from 2030 onwards, Snøhetta will focus on creating carbon-negative designs.

Carbon negative structures either generate more energy than they consume, or sequester more carbon than they produce. The figure includes expenses from initial  construction and materials, as well as operation and decommissioning.

Elusive costs like these are problematic, with 85% of building emissions generated by materials and construction, before the structure is ever used.

“For the next 10 years, we have the ambition of having projects on the table that will become CO2 negative in the cradle-to-cradle definition… This means we have to understand the embodied energies and all the materials used.”

-Snøhetta co-founder Kjetil Thorsen

Balancing the books

Since less intensive materials suited to large scale construction are not yet widely available, balancing through generation will be key.  Solar is central to Snøhettas plans, with structures taking about 60 years to hit carbon negative with embedded generation. The architect recently completed its Powerhouse Brattørkaia project, which boasts an identical timeline for net negative. The Powerhouse also sports a cutting edge ‘wedge’ shape designed to maximise exposure to the sun’s rays.

While this may seem like a life sentence for business leaders, it is refreshing that groups like Snøhetta are beginning to think in terms of multi-generational gains.

Bywater Properties are leading a similar development project aimed to create the lowest-carbon workplace in London. The office, named ‘Paradise’ for the road it occupies: Old Paradise Street. Supermarket, Iceland has already secured the majority of this space, planting a green flag for the brand in the minds of its customers.

My generation

It is no secret that the attraction of short-term gains have significantly contributed to the environmental challenges we now face.

However, vision extending beyond the next board meeting can help transform the UK and global economy to reach net zero. Carbon negative buildings are a part of that vision.

Unfortunately, that can feel exclusionary to firms that have already established their sites and do not have the luxury of completely retrofitting them.

The complex, modular nature of structures does mean that while carbon negative may not be feasible, ‘carbon-light’ might be possible.

Intelligent building control is one of the most effective ways to improve your carbon profile. Primarily because it streamlines the carbon-producing elements of a building, mainly utility consumption, and shrinks carbon footprint as a result.

A holistic ally in carbon reduction is the addition of green spaces to working environments, since these also sequester carbon.

On-site generation further reduces your reliance on the grid and the subsequent sequestered carbon in meeting demand – particularly across long distances.

Other benefits include improved energy supply security, added leverage in procurement talks and a better carbon profile for crucial legislation.

EIC understands that intelligent building design and frugality around resource-use work in hand in glove. As such, EIC offers a comprehensive carbon service combining building management, intelligent procure and compliance acumen.

Marriage of these three pillars means unlocking the full potential of sites, and leveraging for the benefit of all. EIC’s full offering is on its services page.