Drawing attention to energy efficiency

BCIA, Building Services Summit, 10-80-10
Encouraging energy efficiency — Steve Harrison.

Ahead of the Building Services Summit on 27 November, Steve Harrison of the Building Controls Industry Association asks why many buildings are still energy inefficient and what we can do to make investors pay attention to the benefits of improvement.

As an association, the BCIA is working hard to draw attention to the benefits of specifying, designing, installing and using building controls better. We believe that controls and building energy management systems (BEMS) are a cost-effective way to achieve long-term energy efficiency in buildings.

Our main challenge as a sector is to make clients focus on that phrase ‘long-term’. Unfortunately, there is a focus on the capital costs of buildings (for new-build and in refurbishment projects), and scant attention is paid to how cost-cutting at the start will impact in the years of occupation and use.

To tackle the problem of how to encourage more consideration of, and investment in, energy efficiency in buildings, a group named the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG) was established by the EU in 2013. It consists of a mix of commercial organisations such as banks, commercial property developers and interest groups such as the Energy Managers Association and the United Nations Environment Programme.

EEFIG released an interim report early in 2014 on ‘How to drive new finance for energy efficiency measures’. The report concludes with a number of proposals for encouraging greater investment in energy efficiency. None of them will be new to those of us who work in this sector.

• Raise awareness of the benefits of efficiency with decision-makers.

• Better enforcement of current rules such as use of Energy Performance Certificates.

• Create easily accessible data and procedures for making buildings more energy efficient

Here in the UK, the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) was introduced in July 2014, with the first audits required by December 2015. Current estimates are that between 7500 and 9000 organisations will have to comply with ESOS. The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) predicts that ESOS will result in an average investment ‘per enterprise’ of £15 000 per year and that the average potential energy-bill savings as a result will be £56 400 per year.

BCIA, Building Services Summit, 10-80-10

Unfortunately, experience shows that 60% of energy savings opportunities (identified by energy surveys, for example) are not implemented.

The technology for energy-efficient buildings is now readily available, particularly in the areas where poorly performing equipment is the most energy-hungry.

Replacing older equipment is a sound investment that not only cuts energy costs but also reduces down-time for maintenance of old boilers or fans. The ability to improve or upgrade controls also means that better control strategies such as demand-driven heating and lighting, can save energy and reduce wear and tear on building services.

In spite of EEFIG findings, there seems to be plenty of guidance on energy efficiency in buildings available in the UK from organisations such as the Carbon Trust, BSRIA, BRE and CIBSE. But perhaps businesses want examples from other businesses. With this in mind the BCIA has worked with B&ES (Building & Engineering Services Association) to create the Building Services Summit (which takes place in London on 27 November, see facing page) in which managers from a variety of businesses and organisations will be discussing how they have benefitted from paying close attention to efficiency.

Organisations that regard programmes such as ESOS as a ‘tick-box’ exercise are in for a shock. Doing nothing is no longer an option, because rising energy prices are adding to the costs of running a business every year.

That is the real benefit of investment in efficiency – you don’t save money for a week or a month but for many years. It is an ongoing payback that supports good cash flow, keeps the business competitive and offers opportunities for investment in other parts of the business too.

Steve Harrison is President of the Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) and global product manager for Belimo.

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