Building a career in energy efficiency
Vicky Kenrick looks at the call for business to take control of their energy use and examines the effect this is having on the growth of the energy jobs market.
Overall energy prices, boosted by tensions in the Middle East, jumped 2.6% in January. Concerns about supply disruptions resulting from any possible military confrontation between Iran and the West have also pushed up prices recently. This is one of many developments that have led to a call for business to be more decisive and pro-active in their effort to take control of the energy use within their buildings
A recent report by the University of East Anglia (UEA) calls for a new EU target of a 40% reduction in primary energy demand by 2050 (the current target is 20% by 2020). The UEA claims that the EU is currently on target to achieve half of the current 20% target and that it is not sufficient to meet the necessary levels of energy efficiency required.
The report shares a view long held by Allen & York, that economic growth is consistent with a reduction in energy demand and a more sustainable approach to urban design. Buildings are responsible for 40% of EU greenhouse-gas emissions, and the efficiency of new and existing buildings will play a key role in reducing global greenhouse emissions, moving us closer to these ambitious targets.
An increased demand for skilled energy managers reflects a growing incentive within business to become more energy efficient — not only to meet EU and UK Government targets and to participate in initiatives such as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme and the Green Deal, but also to realise financial and reputational benefits.
Allen & York has a number of energy-management jobs at multi-sited organisations to work on large-scale energy-reduction projects. These energy consultants are in demand to implement energy-saving projects throughout the lifecycle of the building — from design to build, through to the day-to-day management of the offices.
Buildings are responsible for almost half of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions. The ways in which we light, heat and use our 25 million buildings all contribute to this. Even small improvements to the energy performance and the way we use our buildings could have a significant effect on reducing this consumption.
The UK Government will launch the Green Deal in the Autumn with the aim of helping businesses and householders by offering approved loans equal to the amount of energy it is estimated they will save. The scheme is predicted to support an estimated 65 000 jobs by 2015. The Green Deal joins a growing Government sustainability portfolio which includes EU Emissions Trading System, Climate Change Levy, Climate Change Agreements and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme — all of which contribute to an increase in energy job opportunities.
As well as managing energy within an existing building, there are also new and innovative opportunities at planning and design stage. More and more flagship buildings are being designed to a low-carbon energy-efficient specification.
The Guardian building in Kings Cross, London, is built over the canals to incorporate the water within the building’s air conditioning system.
The RES Group’s award-winning site Beaufort Court in Hertfordshire incorporates on-site renewable heat and power installations including a wind turbine, solar panels, biomass crops, underground heat store and natural groundwater cooling system.
London’s newest green building, the ‘Crystal’, is being built by Siemens as a centre for urban sustainability and was recently topped out by London’s Mayor Boris Johnson. This landmark green building will showcase the latest energy-efficiency technologies from around the world and act as a knowledge hub for sustainable urban engineering.
|Spreading the energy-innovation message — Siemens’ Crystal building in London opens this Summer.|
Shaped like a crystal, the building will open this Summer at Royal Victoria Docks, close to the Olympic Park. The £30 million building has been described as a flagship for the Mayor of London’s planned Green Enterprise District — 48 km2 of land stretching across six East London boroughs and is intended to position the capital as a centre for low-carbon business.
The Crystal will be the prime example of an energy-efficient building for many businesses around the world, containing office space for over a hundred desks for professionals to share knowledge and collaborate on sustainable-city projects, but it will principally be a visitor attraction showcasing the best in the world’s technological advances in urban sustainability.
Key technologies utilised in The Crystal include high-performance glazing across the entire façade of the 7000 m2 building, 1580 efficient crystalline photovoltaic panels on the roof, energy-efficient lighting and smart metering, rainwater harvesting, water-efficient appliances and ground-source heat pumps.
The green technologies implemented in the Crystal, The Guardian headquarters and RES Group’s Beaufort Court will help inform future sustainable design and improve the overall energy efficiency of modern architecture. Projects such as these give a strong message to commercial businesses to embed energy efficiency and low-carbon design into their growth strategies.
There is also huge potential for energy efficiency in buildings that have already been built without the benefit of good sustainable design. The energy-saving potential for existing buildings through retrofitting is 15 to 30%, and the UK building retrofit market is expected to increase from a £200 billion to £500 billion industry over the next 40 years, according to the Institute for Sustainability.
The recently established Energy Efficiency Deployment Office (EEDO) has been set up to drive a step change in energy efficiency. The EEDO is in the process of developing the Government’s energy-efficiency strategy (to be published by the end of 2012), including identifying further potential for energy efficiency and implementing efficiency initiatives.
One initiative is ‘The BIG energy upgrade programme’ launched earlier this year, which is a large-scale project to deliver the installation of energy-efficiency measures and renewable energy to houses in Yorkshire and the Humber. The evidence derived from these retrofit installations will support the activities of the EEDO and hopefully see the roll-out of nationwide schemes.
Overall, the increased push by Government and businesses to improve energy efficiency will lead to a direct increase in career opportunities within the built environment and energy jobs market, including planners, architects, engineers, energy managers and facilities managers.
Vicky Kenrick is marketing assistant with Allen & York.