Paying our way: Carbon reporting during lockdown

A spike in people working from home has meant huge savings on building costs for many businesses. However, new calls for carbon reporting to account for the increase in domestic emissions could catch business leaders by surprise.

Public cost, private loss

Due to new and continued lockdown restrictions, 60% of the UK workforce is now performing their roles from home. As a result, commercial enterprises are making significant savings in building utility usage, especially on heating, cooling, and lighting.

Unfortunately, the flip side of that coin is that their employees are now footing larger bills at home. In fact, due to a combination of increased home occupation, and dropping temperatures, energy bills across the country are expected to rise dramatically this winter.

“Energyhelpline.com has predicted a full-time working household will spend an extra £107 on energy due to increased working from home, so it’s important that consumers are on the lowest energy tariff before the cold weather starts to bite.”

Victoria Arrington, spokesperson for Energy Helpline

A recent Carbon Trust report shows that more than 70% of businesses believe that the coronavirus pandemic will lead to a greater emphasis on sustainability initiatives. While corporate social responsibility is clearly increasing, the effect of lockdown on carbon emissions is unprecedented and therefore raises some questions.

As Rishi Sunak’s Green Homes Grant has demonstrated, the energy efficiency of UK housing is sorely lacking. However, there have been new calls for corporate carbon reporting that accounts for the emissions of those working at home. This could force businesses to pick up the tab.

“The coronavirus changes the way we work, so naturally it changes the way companies impact the climate… Firms across the UK must now adjust to this, and we must change the rules on how we report company emissions.”

Amit Gudka, Bulb

Log showing ants carrying leaves

Carbon reporting: Over or under

Bulb released a warning to businesses back in June, stating that nearly half a million tonnes of CO2 equivalent may go unreported due to employees working from home.

Ecoact has released a free-source white paper containing formulae for calculating the relative carbon emissions of homeworking. However, this is based on the average expense calculation from Ofgem findings over the past two years.

The problem is that they do not account for the wild variations between corporate and domestic building energy efficiency. As such, they provide an incomplete picture of actual commercial energy usage. The danger is that they may misplace responsibility for some of its costs.

Since the conditions of lockdown are so novel, legislation governing these missing carbon emissions has yet emerged. Will the Climate Change Levy (CCL) take notice for example?

The answer, for now, is unclear. What is obvious though is that commercial firms are on borrowed time to establish a clear data set that can protect them from overpaying for inefficiency that isn’t their responsibility.

The combination of smart metres and a comprehensive invoicing history would be one way to ensure such security. Equipped with this data, businesses could calculate the relative difference in energy consumption pre and post lockdown conditions.

Once a record is established, businesses can then make a case for not paying beyond their normal emissions costs.

Carbon reporting with EIC

EIC provides a comprehensive energy management service that includes Metering and Invoice Validation solutions. Our sub-metering technology allows you to create dynamic and comprehensive reports of your current consumption patterns.

These reports provide a comparative baseline to measure your historic consumption against. Our team can then analyse and validate your records, carrying out over 200 energy checks to guarantee accuracy.

A final word on the CCL, while mandates surrounding work from home emissions remain vague, the CCA still presents an opportunity to save on your own emissions. However, the deadline for new applications is closing fast, and some trade associations require submissions up to four weeks in advance.

Fortunately, EIC also specialises in climate legislation like the CCA and can provide end-to-end guidance and support from the initial submission to evidence collection.

To find out which of these services you can benefit from, get in touch.

 

The green gold rush: CCA extension proposed

EIC explains the government’s proposed extension to the climate change agreements initiative (CCA), benefits of compliance and how we can ensure you qualify.

CCA: How and why

The climate change agreements initiative was established to incentivise the continued and effective implementation of energy efficiency strategies among the most energy-intensive industrial sectors.

icebergs in the sea

CCA encourages businesses to streamline their energy usage by offering a 93% reduction on electricity, and a 78% reduction on other fuels accrued as a result of the climate change levy (CCL).

Since its inception in 2013, approximately 700,000 tonnes of carbon emissions have been prevented each year, with businesses using up to 2.3 TWh less energy or enough to power 140,000 homes.

The need for such legislation becomes painfully obvious when framed in the context of energy wastage, in the City of London alone businesses are losing £35m each year this way according to a Green Alliance think tank report.

Originally, the initiative was due to conclude in March 2023 however Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak announced in the spring budget that there would be a consultation on a possible two-year extension to the initiative.

The show goes on

While 9,000 facilities across the UK are already benefiting from the CCA, this extension is estimated to be worth as much as £300m annually in CCL discounts, for the businesses already taking part in the scheme as well as new beneficiaries that would now be able to apply.

It works by encouraging businesses to make improvements to site energy efficiency over an eight-year period. In return, businesses would receive a discount worth as much as £300m annually on CCL bills.

Given the financial uncertainty that COVID-19 continues to inspire, and cooling attitudes towards sustainable development and practices, the news of an extension is welcome on all fronts.

“Extending the Climate Change Agreement scheme will give businesses greater clarity and security at a time when they need it most. This extension will save businesses money while cutting emissions…”

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng

The consultation will cover proposals for the addition of a new Target Period, from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2022, an extension of certification for reduced rates of CCL for participants 31 March 2025 and finally, to re-open the scheme, allowing eligible facilities not currently participating to apply to join.

Businesses that had previously missed the opportunity to join the scheme now stand a chance of taking advantage of these savings whilst contributing to a greener economy.

However, it should be noted that the criteria of eligibility for the scheme is not under review, rather the extra time will allow businesses to implement strategies that make them eligible in time for the levy discount to bear fruit.

lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling

The new gold rush

The extension proposed, if approved, presents a significant opportunity to both current beneficiaries and newcomers to the scheme, provided they have the reporting mechanisms in place, to adhere to the scheme.

Businesses that wish to take advantage of this opportunity in future will need to ensure that they are fully compliant with the scheme as soon as possible, in order to reap the most benefit.

EIC’s expert team of carbon consultants and data analysts are dedicated to offering your business a comprehensive CCA service from initial assessments through data analysis to actionable strategy.