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 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.

SECR: How to make it work for your business

Compliance with carbon legislation such as Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) has become a corporate obligation. But it can also unlock a range of opportunities for businesses seeking sustainable growth.

This is because the energy audit and reporting involved in carbon compliance can gather valuable data. This can then help to unearth hidden financial savings by highlighting areas of inefficiency and waste. Not to mention, sealing those leaks to reduce carbon emissions.

So, while it is often seen as a tedious piece of admin, SECR can help organisations prepare for the UK’s transition to a net zero economy. Smart energy management can also help to build a resilient foundation for any future business.

Here are some of the hidden benefits businesses are privy to if they make the most of SECR.

Getting more out of your energy audit

If your organisation falls within the scope of SECR, your energy and carbon reporting is already a priority. But the data collected has value far beyond mandatory compliance.

Submetering and monitoring provide a window into the performance of your building. Helping to pinpoint any weaknesses and inefficiencies in your systems. This holistic view of your energy use and carbon emissions can help you build a smarter, data-driven sustainable strategy.

With the next-generation technology available today, you can go beyond the data and incorporate smart controls. Our sister company, t-mac, offers Building Management Systems (BMS) that enable real time insights with IoT technology. For big energy users, this is an invaluable energy management tool for streamlining carbon compliance processes.

Ignoring this data after the initial report would mean that you risk wasting time and money on energy admin. It would culminate in nothing more than standard compliance.

Preparing for future Scope 3 reporting

Currently, organisations are mandated to report on only scope 1 and 2 emissions.

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

But it is a long road to net zero, and scope 3 emissions will likely become a part of mandatory reporting before 2050.

Scope 3: Indirect emissions from company supply chains such as shipping, business travel, and raw material extraction

By making the most of your current reporting you can prepare your organisation for future compliance. This gives you an advantage over your competitors and helps mitigate any risks, and costs, involved in last-minute reporting.

Boosting your green credentials

Businesses are waking up to the rapidly evolving corporate landscape and the growing focus on transparency. With climate change now being widely recognised as a global challenge, it is clear that every industry will have to innovate and adapt. Any organisation’s growth and longevity will increasingly rely on its levels of sustainability and environmental, social and governance. Both at a leadership level but also embedded in the corporate identity as a whole.

SECR compliance spans areas like energy management, sustainability, and financial reporting. This challenge can be transformed into an opportunity by establishing open communication between teams and forming a more cohesive SECR team.

When EIC helps a client navigate complex carbon legislation, we go beyond compliance. By establishing a long-lasting sustainable strategy for your team, we help to incorporate green values into every part of your corporate identity.

Beyond compliance, genuine sustainability will become an expectation among employees, customers and stakeholders. While greenwashing is widespread now, with companies cashing in on the climate-friendly trend, this won’t be an option for long. With transparency made mandatory and rising interest from the general public, companies will struggle to hide their skeletons.

SECR can help you begin your sustainable journey by rallying your team around your environmental mission.

How can EIC help?

At EIC, we provide businesses with end-to-end guidance and support for carbon compliance including EPBD, ESOS and SECR. Our dedicated carbon consultants have supported over 300 organisations, many of them are big energy users with complex energy admin. Our goal is to simplify and streamline your energy management from utility connections to net zero guidance.

If you want to understand how to put the findings from your SECR reporting to good use or need to begin the reporting process, contact us at EIC today.

The EII Exemption Scheme: everything you need to know

What is the energy-intensive industries (EII) exemption scheme?

The EII exemption scheme aims to help big energy users stay competitive in a global market. Qualifying businesses can claim an exemption of up to 85% of their Contract for Differences (CfD), Renewables Obligation (RO), and Feed-in Tariff (FiT) costs. Providing firm financial footing in a post-Covid economy.

Why was the EII exemption scheme launched?

The UK has pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, which will require a transformative shift towards clean energy across the economy. This has resulted in a variety of government schemes which encourage the rise of electricity generated from renewable and low carbon sources.

This initiative has seen success, with renewables accounting for 47% of the UK’s generation in the first quarter of 2020. And even as consumption dropped in Q2, wind power generated electricity continued to rise due to increased capacity. This upwards trajectory is only expected to accelerate, with promising new renewable energy projects on the horizon.

The levies and obligations funding this growth are initially covered by energy suppliers. But, these costs are passed down to domestic and non-domestic consumers in the form of higher energy bills.

This puts energy-intensive businesses at a disadvantage. Especially when competing against their EU counterparts with lower energy costs. The launch of the EII exemption scheme is a solution to this problem and aims to maintain the UK’s position in the global market.

When was the scheme rolled out?

The original solution to the issue of higher costs for EIIs was a compensation scheme launched in 2016. This allowed big energy users to apply for relief from the energy costs they had already paid.

This was then replaced by the EII exemption scheme, rolled out between autumn 2017 and spring 2018. This change of approach is meant to offer energy-intensive businesses more long time certainty and stability as well as higher cost savings.

eii

Who can apply?

To be eligible for an EII exemption, a business must meet five key requirements.

  • The business must manufacture a product in the UK within an eligible sector – the “sector level test”.
  • The business must pass a 20% electricity intensity test – the “business level test”.
  • The business must not be an Undertaking in Difficulty (UID) – the UID guidelines explain that “an undertaking is considered to be in difficulty when, without intervention by the State, it will almost certainly be condemned to going out of business in the short or medium term.”
  • The business must have at least two quarters of financial data.
  • The application must contain evidence of the proportion of electricity used to manufacture the product for a period of at least three months.

Learn more about applying for an exemption certificate.

Big energy users who do not qualify for the EII exemption scheme should still be aware of rising energy costs. They should explore schemes such as Carbon Footprinting, Energy Audits, Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) and Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). These can provide invaluable insight into your environmental impact and routes to improve energy efficiency within your company.

Has Covid-19 had an impact on the scheme?

Covid-19 has thrown various sectors of the UK economy into a state of uncertainty and decline. The energy sector was especially impacted by the fall in energy consumption in the first six months of 2020. And resulted in a subsequent drop in electricity prices. This could make it more difficult to calculate a business’ energy intensity and whether it is “in difficulty”. Because of this, the government will be excluding the period from 31 December 2019 to 30 June 2020 from its assessment of whether a business is in financial difficulty or not.

How can EIC help?

Here at EIC, we support big energy users with the management of their energy, buildings, carbon and compliance. As a result, we’re able to uncover actionable insights that allow you to manage and control all elements of your energy bill on both sides of the meter.

Armed with a comprehensive understanding of government schemes and legislation, we can help turn your frustrating admin into rewarding opportunities. We can navigate complex applications such as that for the EII exemption certificate – saving you valuable time and resources.

Contact us to learn more about how EIC can help your business.

2021 outlook for big energy users

Covid-19 continues to give rise to uncertainty and financial volatility across the globe. And while there is a potential end in sight, there is still a long road to normality ahead.

Fortunately, the UK has set out a sustainable recovery plan focused on fighting climate change and revolutionising the energy sector. This green wave will bring with it a range of challenges and opportunities for big energy users across the private and public sectors.

Looking forward

With COP26 around the corner and a 2050 net zero target to consider, the UK’s decarbonisation efforts have increased significantly. The past year has seen announcements like plans for the issue of the UK’s first green bond, a 2030 ban on petrol cars, and mandatory TCFD recommendations for large businesses. These green initiatives culminated in the highly anticipated new energy white paper which maps out a clean energy transformation. Fuelled by the evolution of technology like AI and IoT, the energy landscape is predicted to be more flexible and transparent than ever before.

However, whilst it’s fairly clear what is on the horizon for the energy sector, there is less certainty around the energy market. Will energy prices continue to recover as demand rises post-Covid? Will the increased reliance on renewables make energy prices more volatile? How will Brexit impact the energy market if at all? And how can big energy users find opportunities in the current uncertainty?

EIC’s ‘2021 outlook for big energy users’ report

Our report outlines the upcoming trends for big energy users and how EIC’s team of energy specialists can help businesses stay ahead of the curve.

2021 energy outlook for big energy users

Download our ‘2021 energy outlook for big energy users’ report


How EIC can help

The UK’s decarbonisation mission will rely upon a changing energy mix, more flexible energy grids, innovative tech, and widespread improvement of energy efficiency. At EIC we like to offer next generation solutions that help our clients prepare for a green future.

Our sister company t-mac delivers compelling metering, monitoring and BMS controls solutions via our in-house team. This is just one of many innovative services that can revolutionise the way you run your business. Allowing you to manage and control all elements of your energy bill on both sides of the meter.

EIC’s services can transform your wider energy strategy to encompass efficiency and self-sufficiency. We can also guide you through compliance with complex carbon legislation, making sure you are working towards ambitious net zero targets.

To learn more about optimising your sustainability strategy contact us at EIC today.

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.

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 or ten yearly 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 and 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.

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.

 

 

 

 

Summer Economic Update

EIC explores Rishi Sunak’s Summer Economic Update and what it means for businesses looking to gain a head start in the green revolution in the UK’s future.

A brave new world

The build back better campaign received a large, public endorsement from Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak this week, who pledged in the Summer Economic Update that £3bn would be committed to the new green economy. While this is only a drop in the proverbial bucket of the £160bn Covid-19 recovery package, it has been met with great enthusiasm from both business leaders and the public.

An E.on survey conducted earlier this year, polling 500 UK-based business leaders, demonstrated that 72% felt that the pandemic has given them cause to re-evaluate their organisations priorities regarding the environment.

During the announcement, the Chancellor revealed the two major fields of improvement to be energy efficiency in public structures and a £2bn Green Homes Grant for those not in social housing. The remaining £1bn will be invested in improving the carbon usage and profile of public sector buildings through measures including double or triple glazing and smart energy meters.

“Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is crucial for reducing our emissions…. this announcement of £3bn is a welcome first step… This funding needs to be part of a comprehensive plan to improve the whole of the UK’s building stock, creating tens of thousands of jobs for the long term, not here-today-gone-tomorrow.”

UKGBC chief executive Julie Hirigoyen

Sunak also announced that £50m worth of funding would be used to support trials into early-stage energy efficiency and flexibility technology for the UK’s least efficient sectors.

The majority of respondents to E.on’s survey believe that the primary responsibility for the UK’s green revolution lies with business leaders, and the UK public, it seems, agrees.

Dancing in the dark

One of the unforeseen gifts of the pandemic has been a heightened awareness both of our potential effects on each other within our society but also the affect that our species is having on the planet. It is no secret that human behaviour is partially responsible for large-scale disease outbreaks and as a result, consumers are becoming ever more cautious about which companies to whom they declare allegiance.

The Capgemini Research Institute has also conducted a recent survey that showed almost 70% of respondents are concerned the effect that their spending habits are having on the natural world. The institute also reports that 80% have altered spending habits in the last year in response to social and environmental issues.

However, while there is clearly a market trend developing in favour of sustainable business practices, ‘greenwashing’ and a lack of transparency threaten to shake consumer trust on a mass scale. Six in ten business leaders consider their clients to be well informed of their sustainability efforts but over half of consumers have stated difficulty in confirming corporate sustainability claims.

“…when baked into an organization’s mission and purpose, sustainability has the potential to entirely change an organization’s relationship with its customers and partners… As businesses focus on transformation in the wake of the pandemic, they should put sustainability at the heart of their efforts.”

Capgemini’s VP for consumer goods and retail Kees Jacobs said.

Getting a head start

Legislation will be one of the major lynchpins in the UK’s approach to a green economic recovery, however clearly signposted legislation could also help to bolster consumer trust.

SECR stands as not only an ethical benchmark for firms that are invested in a cleaner economy, but also a declaration of intent to consumers. Compliance to such legislation demonstrates to consumers that emissions reductions is a company-wide objective and therefore representative of your brand as a whole.

The palatability of SECR is also a major benefit, while it is a complex piece of legislation; the objective is simple and easily explained to non-energy professionals. Employment of the strategies necessary to ensure compliance, be they energy efficiency measures, supply chain reorganisation or on-site generation raises a green flag to would-be clients.

Fortunately, each of these listed strategies is covered under EIC’s carbon management team, who are able to utilise over four decades of experience to create a bespoke carbon strategy for your firm. The EIC services page contains full details of its compliance offering.