Energy efficiency is rising quickly up the political and business agenda. Announcing the latest measures to encourage greater energy efficiency in UK business, energy minister Michael Fallon said: “Investing in energy efficiency can hugely benefit our big businesses helping British businesses get ahead in the global race”.

The most recent development in this field is the consultation on the introduction of the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS). The ESOS is driven by the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (2012) Article 8 which requires all member states to introduce a regular regime of energy assessments for large businesses (with over 250 employees). ESOS is the UK government’s proposed approach to meeting the 20% reduction of the EU’s primary energy consumption by 2020.

The scheme applies to all “large undertakings” in the UK, which are defined as organisations with at least 250 employees or an annual turnover and balance sheet exceeding £42.5m and £36.5m respectively as at the end of the qualification date of 31 December 2014.

Energy Audits

The ESOS will introduce a programme of regular energy audits for businesses. The first audits have to be undertaken by December 2015, and every four years after that. The audits must identify the energy being used, and how that can be optimised with energy waste being reduced whenever possible.

Although the audits will include recommendations, businesses are not legally obliged to follow them. However, the government figures currently estimate that businesses could save an average of around £50,000 a year by reducing energy waste.

Under ESOS, participants are required to determine their total energy consumption (covering buildings, industrial processes and transport), identify cost effective energy saving opportunities, and submit a formal notification to the Environment Agency (the scheme administrator) confirming that they have met the requirements of ESOS in each compliance period.

How do you Comply?

First, you must determine whether your organisation is included in the scope of the ESOS. For most, this will be a simple assessment to decide whether you meet the definition of a “large organisation”; i.e. organisations with at least 250 employees or an annual turnover and balance sheet exceeding £42.5m and £36.5m respectively as at the end of the qualification date of 31 December 2014. However, there are the usual “ifs” and “buts”.

Some trusts, public companies and not-for-profit bodies may be in, as will some smaller companies that operate as part of a larger group containing one or more “large organisations”. On the other hand, public bodies and those required to comply with the Public Contracts Regulations should be out. GCL Building Technologies will provide you with a single source of expertise and can assist you in determining your qualification to the scheme.

Identifying Your Energy Consumption

Once qualified , you have the task of identifying your total energy consumption and significant energy uses and deciding whether all that energy use is covered by a certified ISO 50001 compliant energy management system (EMS). If it is, you can report your compliance to the Environment Agency while continually maintaining and improving your EMS and, of course, working continuously to drive down your energy use.

If your existing systems and processes don’t meet the compliance requirements, you will need to measure your energy consumption in all buildings, industrial processes and transport activities for a period of 12 consecutive months. One of these months must contain 31 December 2014, which then becomes your “reference period”. GCL Building Technologies are expertly placed to help you determine your energy consumption.

Identifying Your Energy Uses

Now that GCL know how much energy you use over 12 months, we can go about identifying your “significant energy uses” – those that make up at least 90% of the total. This significant energy use must then be the subject of an ESOS energy audit or covered by one of the other routes to compliance.

GCL can help you choose which of these routes fits best with your wider business goals or with the work that you have carried out over the previous years. For example, if you want to raise awareness of your environment credentials with an internationally recognised brand, ISO 50001 may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you are responsible for multiple office or retail properties, updating your Display Energy Certificates might be a quick and easy approach.

How GCL can Help

Whatever your requirement for expertise, GCL can assist you or have the work carried out by an appropriate individual. However, there is no requirement to use a full lead assessor for every survey, certification or asessment, as long as you appoint one to confirm that the completed work meets the minimum requirements. Then once a qualified lead assessor has verified your compliance, the assessments must be underwritten by a director or board member before notifying the Environment Agency.