Waking up to energy efficiency

By Ian Ellis, President of the Building Controls Industry Association.

On taking up his new role as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey said that energy efficiency is ‘the cheapest way of cutting carbon’.

He was speaking at the launch of the Energy Efficiency Deployment Office (EEDO), a team that among other things will be looking for new ways to save energy right across the economy. The BCIA welcomes this approach because we know that the cheapest kW of energy is the one that’s not used unnecessarily.

Davey highlighted the role that businesses will play in reaching carbon reduction goals, but he also mentioned some rather worrying statistics. Although 70% of UK businesses are planning investment in energy efficiency projects in the next three years, 30% of directors are unconvinced of the benefits of trying to be more energy efficient. An even more concerning figure is that 25% of business directors don’t know what their annual energy bill is.

To quote from Edward Davey again: “That has to change.” The BCIA couldn’t agree more.

The new EEDO has sent out a call for evidence, as a first step in building a UK energy efficiency strategy. The search is on for where the potential lies to save more energy in a cost effective way. Building controls offer enormous potential for energy saving in most commercial buildings.

The European and British Standard 15232 is a document that has been mentioned before in this column. But as evidence of the effectiveness of controls in saving energy, BSEN15232 has all the facts and figures that any business director needs. The energy efficiency delivered by different levels of generic building controls is compared, so that payback periods can be assessed for any investment in controls equipment.

But when looking for cost effective energy savings, it has to be said that the majority of commercial buildings already include some form of building control or building energy management system (BEMS). The challenge is that some building owners or occupiers don’t know how to maximise the system to ensure they are using energy as efficiently as possible.

Paying closer attention to energy and how it’s used in business is becoming increasingly important. The 25% of directors who don’t know what their annual energy bill is need to realise that energy is a business expense that cannot be ignored. One thing’s for certain, now that government has woken up to the importance of energy efficiency, business is going to have to do the same very soon.

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