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Tackling the energy crisis - the FM perspective

Author : Amanda Vlietstra

26 September 2022

Mike Jeffs

Will the Government’s new Energy Bill Relief Scheme do enough to protect the FM sector from soaring energy bills?

Many businesses have been anticipating an anxious autumn in which soaring energy bills would see some companies squeezed to the pips. With no energy price cap in place for businesses, firms have experienced a 424% rise in gas costs, and 349% increase in electricity since February 2021, data from the Federation of Small Businesses has revealed. 

Now, however, some relief has now come in the form of the Government’s new Energy Bill Relief Scheme. This will see the Government providing a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic customers, including charities, schools and hospitals, whose current gas and electricity prices have been significantly inflated in light of global energy prices. This Government says that support will be equivalent to the Energy Price Guarantee put in place for households.

Undoubtedly, this help will be welcomed by businesses that are struggling to keep their heads above water. But some business leaders connected to the FM sector think more needs to be done to address the fact that global energy prices are likely to continue to rise – and continue to impact on businesses. 

“Band aid”
Mike Jeffs, COO of Hark (pictured) – a software platform that connects and automates buildings, energy and industrial assets, said: “…Whilst an interim ‘band aid’ is useful so that business aren’t forced to close based on the energy bills they have, there still remains a tri-responsibility for Government, businesses and suppliers themselves to look at the broader issue – what does consumption look like across the supply chain look like? 

He continued: “The government mentions reducing cost and increasing supply but there feels like a missing piece here; improving the efficiency of the energy being consumed.”

Mr Jeffs told PFM that, in his experience, too many facilities managers do not have accurate energy data from their standard day to day operations. “In my view that’s the action businesses would most benefit from – help/funding in terms of the small investment to manage and measure their own energy consumption effectively,” he said. “This serves all three stakeholder groups in 2 ways; 1) it lessens the burden on businesses/suppliers to take their own action to monitor and reduce energy consumption 2) Provides the necessary data to make informed decisions around delivering the net zero 2050 target the government has set, less energy wasted also means increased supply.”

Energy efficiency revolution

Ross Sheil, SVP at building intelligence leader, Infogrid, suggested businesses have an opportunity now to reinvent their relationship with energy. “We need to quicken the pace of innovation to drive an energy efficiency revolution in how we manage and run our buildings,” he said. “Not only will this help businesses reduce costs, but support them to reach net zero goals and protect the planet.”

Mr Sheil believes that AI technology can offer significant help in ensuring buildings are run as energy-efficiently as possible. “Buildings account for 39% of global carbon emissions, with 30% of energy wasted in part because of inefficiencies. And where every saving counts, intelligent buildings can bring businesses one step closer to their ESG goals,” he said.

Taking ownership 
Richard Pennington, Director at Concept Energy Solutions, said that businesses need to think about how they protect themselves from rising energy costs in the long term. “It starts by taking ownership of their energy use,” he said. “Businesses should start by conducting a thorough energy audit across their sites – to understand when, where and how they are using energy. 

“Armed with this insight, businesses can start to make informed decisions on energy efficiency and decarbonisation investments – and implement those that deliver the greatest returns,” he concluded.

While, clearly, there’s an opportunity here for businesses who can help organisations reduce their energy consumption by managing their buildings more efficiently, the fact remains that organisations really do need to reduce their energy consumption. Until demand for energy falls, those energy prices will continue to climb – causing more problems for business and the Government further down the line. 

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