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Carbon Steps

04 January 2011

Service providers can play a key role assisting clients through their energy reduction and sustainability strategies. Paul Lawrence shares the Integral UK approach to managing CRC and sustainability in easy to digest Carbon Steps

CHOOSING WHETHER TO `ACT now` on energy reduction and sustainability is simply not an option… it is a must. However, it also comes at a price. With CO2 levels on the increase and with the Government setting legally binding CO2 reduction targets it is time for businesses to make a change. The Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) has the power to impose fines on the businesses that qualify under the CRC but fail to comply fully with the regulation.
The CRC scheme is aimed at large public and private sector organisations that had at least one half hourly meter (HHM) settled on the half hourly market in 2008 and who additionally had an annual electricity supply of at least 6,000 MWh through all HHM's. Whereas, organisations that had at least one HHM settled on the half hourly market in 2008, but whose annual energy supply is less than 6,000 MWh are exempt. However, they must disclose their carbon emission information and should prepare a structured energy reduction strategy to ensure that consumption does not creep up above the 6,000 MWh threshold.
It is crucial businesses understand the importance of CRC and the impact on long and short term strategies, including financial and business direction. Although initially the capital outlay is costly, with businesses purchasing carbon allowances to cover carbon emissions, by investing in future energy reduction technologies the long term benefits are rewarding both in terms of profit and overall carbon reduction.
The first step to improving energy efficiency is to find out where energy is being used. Conducting benchmarking exercises to assess energy and water consumption, based on the last 24 months of energy use provides a baseline on which to propose energy savings. These reports are jointly assessed and should demons trate:
● Energy performance baselines for buildings and goals for improvement (Includes thermal imaging and energy escape assessments)
● Tracking and reporting of energy performance, costs and the impacts monthly
● Compliance with CRC reduction disclosures
● Instant access to your Carbon Footprint
● The foundation for your CRC evidence pack.
From initial benchmarking, the reporting of CRC emissions should continue on at least an annual basis together with the management of reporting against carbon allowances versus emissions.
Wider management, qualification, registration, footprint and compliance years should also be factored into consideration. Working with a building and FM provider who understands the registration and compliance scheme rules is invaluable.
Their support will ensure that all appropriate information is prepared and captured to ensure that financial penalties are avoided and savings made.
Integral UK, recently worked with a large financial institution, on a project to meet environmental targets across corporate sites. Commissioned to undertake energy surveys across 28 corporate buildings and the head office, Integral UK’s approach included a consultative type approach and a comprehensive audit to evaluate all major energy using systems.This type of audit offers the most accurate estimate of energy savings. It considers the interactive effects of all projects, accounts for the energy use of all major equipment, includes detailed energy cost saving calculations and project cost with return on investments shown.
The audit assesses the engineering operation of the site, identifying where unnecessary energy consumption is taking place. Particular areas under scrutiny can include chillers AHU functionality and its FCU dependents, BEMS and how it integrates with controlled comfort air circulation and plant run times. All lighting should additionally be reviewed, identifying redundant lighting requirements or alternatively how areas could be lit more effectively through an efficient lighting strategy.
Assessment of life cycle energy consumption and costs is a key part of the procurement process for all equipment and capital works.
This is monitored and reported prior to final recommendation, proposals should consider:
● Reducing reliance on fossil fuels
● Updating and improving existing controls, sub metering and monitoring systems to accommodate best practice
● Ensuring time schedules and set points can be varied in line with changing needs
● Ensuring operations and maintenance instructions are clear, allowing operators to keep the installed item operating efficiently
● Future-proofing systems
● The inclusion of all government and manufacturer’s rebates, discounts and grants in energy saving business cases.
The Energy Audit recommendations for Integral UK’s client included the installation of
Eco filters, variable speed drives linked to CO2 levels and lighting dimmers giving an average saving of 10 percent on energy costs across trial buildings and a 20 percent energy saving at their head office. Integral UK is now rolling out the programme across all its corporate sites.
Supported learning
Ensuring that your business is CRC compliant is not where the responsibility ends. Often internal education and training is required to change processes, approaches and in some cases mindset. Integral UK continues to work with customers and recommends providing a policy of supported learning, which will ultimately help to create a sustainable energy delivery model. As part of the overall CRC programme, the Integral UK Energy & Sustainability Division offers bespoke training courses for customers. Three levels of training are offered: a foundation level suitable for those who have no energy management experience, the intermediate level is aimed at FM and engineering level, and finally bespoke training is available for Operations and General Managers.
Energy monitoring
Nominating a senior decision maker within each business who is prepared to take on therole of site Energy Marshall will facilitate day to day energy monitoring. Energy Marshalls manage their local environment and report monthly with any issues or recommendations to a designated contact within the Integral business. Initiatives will then be included within monthly reports to be considered within the wider Energy Plan as a work in progress document. The Energy Plan is a constantly evolving document that details what the energy related objectives are for the site and sets out the strategies for achieving them. These strategies will comprise of a series of `no` and `low` cost items that can be integrated into regular workload while also detailing capital works that would require a business case or procurement and which, therefore, need to be added to the site’s LCMP or capital works programme.
This approach has delivered results and savings varying between 3-5 percent per annum. However attention to detail and targeted initiatives are required to sustain these savings and to ensure that the team maintain focused on their objectives.
There are a few simple good housekeeping steps you can take to aid carbon reduction and in turn reduce the financial impact of the CRC scheme. Clever property management looks at economising and it could be that there is an empty section of the building or premises that does not maximize occupancy. Besides stewardship of assets, auditing and evaluating the use of day to day capital projects and technology will also highlight practical ways to deliver incremental savings month on month. It is all about making sure your investments are working hard for you.
It is important that businesses think proactively about long term sustainability. Allocating local ownership or specific energy teams who are responsible for implementation, will no doubt be the easiest and most effective way to manage the scheme and on-going strategy as it evolves. Consolidating building and FM maintenance with one provider will also provide economies of scale, but choose carefully to ensure that you are working with a partner who understands your business, the challenges of your sector, and who ultimately has the knowledge and skills to make your business CRC compliant, working with you long term on your energy delivery model.
As one of the largest independent providers of building and facilities maintenance. The team at Integral UK are experts in energy and sustainability. Our Carbon Steps product offering enables us to provide complete turnkey solutions for all energy requirements; we are already working with a number of businesses across both public and private sectors to reduce their carbon footprint providing guaranteed financial savings.

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