New MEES guidance promises vast improvements for energy efficiency in commercial buildings

In recent weeks, industry magazine The Energyst has reported:

‘The government has published guidance for landlords on the new regulations that could prevent them from renting buildings to tenants if they fail to meet minimum energy efficiency standards.’

It’s a crucial development. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) come into force in April 2018. But preparatory action now is needed, both to understand MEES implications and get ready for potential remedial works.

The minimum level of energy efficiency provisions will mean that, subject to certain requirements and exemptions:

a) from 1 April 2018, landlords of non-domestic private rented properties (including public sector landlords) may not grant a tenancy to new or existing tenants if their property has an EPC rating of band F or G (shown on a valid Energy Performance Certificate for the property).

b) from 1 April 2023, landlords must not continue letting a non-domestic property which is already let if that property has an EPC rating of band F or G.

This means some 1 in 5 UK commercial buildings would fail the MEES test, and the maximum fine for failure to comply with MEES stands at £160,000 per property.

Therefore, it’s critical that landlords across the UK take notice, right now, of the implications. When implemented well, MEES stand to make UK property substantially more sustainable, and improve the quality of rented space for tenants.

Reputational benefit, longer term tenants and a more profitable portfolio are among the wins for landlords. But to reap such rewards, the sector as a whole must react promptly to what MEES will mean.

What does the guidance say?

The guidance sets out, via a number of flowcharts, the decision process whereby landlords can judge whether a property can legally be let under MEES regs. It also details the MEES laws in depth.

This alone is useful. UK environmental legislation is complex. Pathways to help landlords examine their responsibilities, and set about meeting them are most welcome.

“We recommend that every UK commercial landlord consults the MEES guidance immediately,” explains Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys Group.

“It’s vital to do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, you need to comply. You need to plan out any costs, and the timeline of getting energy efficiency in your buildings up to standard.

“All of these elements will affect your business, your profit, your planning and your tenants. Often, the response to rules like MEES is to hide one’s head in the sand.

“That simply won’t wash in this case. MEES are here, and it’s essential to comply. There are huge benefits for landlords who do. You can win new business, based on your reputation as a sustainable letting agent.

“You will hold tenants for longer, who prefer the more comfortable heating and cooling systems in your sustainable, intelligently managed buildings. You will be ahead of the game; an example of futureproof, modern business.

“And of course, you will save money on potential fines, while your energy efficient buildings will command higher rents than the competition.”

The Government guidance is available here.

Energys Group offers free site surveys to guide you on the most cost-effective energy efficient solutions for your building. Get in touch for advice.

The Energys explainer: How can warehouse LED lighting boost profits?

Statisticians and newspapers tell us that online-only retailers are enjoying a boom. The Telegraph reports that online sales “grew 18pc last year and by 27pc over the past two years…while bricks and mortar sales fell over both periods.”

The growing trend for virtual routes to market has seen a rise in demand for warehouse space, as businesses seek to satisfy the needs of an ever-growing number of online shoppers.

Whilst e-commerce companies typically enjoy lower overheads – with no costly retail estate to manage, there’s no doubt that it pays for online businesses to find ways of increasing the efficiency of their warehouse and distribution operations. It’s here that significant savings can be made to their operating costs.

How can efficient lighting make warehouses more profitable?

According to the Carbon Trust, even a 20% cut in energy costs represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales. Lighting can account for up to 80% of a warehouse’s energy bill, so upgrading to energy efficient options such as LED can have a significant impact.

In a fast-paced industry, achieving this sort of competitive advantage is crucial. But energy isn’t the only expense associated with legacy warehouse lighting. Maintenance costs can rack up too, as failed lamps need to be accessed by cherry picker, disrupting operations as sections of warehouse are cordoned off for replacement work.

Lighting also has an impact on staff wellbeing and productivity. Eyestrain, glare, picking and packing mistakes are all consequences of poor quality illumination.

Specialist solutions for a specialist space

The cost-saving argument for upgrading to LED is clear, but not all LEDs are made equal, and warehouses are particularly tricky environments to light. Open spaces, high ceilings, narrow aisles and high racking can make it difficult to illuminate spaces evenly.

Energys Group’s New Vision LED High Bay option offers excellent energy saving opportunities for warehouses, while providing even light distribution and glare control. The lamps have a life expectancy of over 50,000 hours and will maintain lumen levels at over 90% for the full warranty period of 5 years in normal use, dramatically reducing the maintenance burden.

For warehouses with legacy SONS or metal halide lighting, our retrofit options may be a faster, more cost-effective solution. Ranging from 20W to 100W, they provide a cost-effective ‘plug and play’ option to replace SONs and metal halides. Because of the high efficacy and directional nature of these LED lamps, together with the sharp white light and high colour rendering index, it is possible to reduce the power consumption of light fittings by between 50% and 75% with no discernible reduction in effective light levels.

Warehouse lighting success story

One example of lighting best practice is Prompto Despatch, a courier company in Ireland. Prompto’s 400W metal halide lamps were retrofitted with our New Vision 80W LED SON lamps, achieving instant energy savings of more than 75% in the company’s warehouse space.

“It was obvious from the outset that as soon as the New Vision LED lighting was installed we had made the right decision, with much improved lighting levels and instantly reduced energy costs,” says James Delea, Managing Director at Prompto Despatch.

It’s clear that LED lighting can offer significant efficiencies for warehouse businesses. But proven sector expertise and high performance products are key when selecting the right supplier. Only then will companies really reap all the benefits of modern, effective, efficient light.

Want to know more about the benefits of LED lighting for warehouses? Drop us a line or have a look at our case studies.

How to save energy in schools: a guide for school governors

Governors have the tricky job of balancing resources, and considering investment or expenditure decisions that deliver real returns. Energy efficiency upgrades are one such conundrum: at face value they can look interesting, and may well be strongly championed by managers and teaching staff.

But how do you decide the best route forwards? How do you know if this is the right decision, and whether to trust that the figures proposed will actually deliver?

This guide aims to arm school governors with the right knowledge and questions to ask when approving investments for energy efficiency upgrades.

What energy saving technologies I should consider?

 If a fast return on investment is the priority, then ‘quick win’ technologies are key – these involve minimal disruption to the school, and pay for themselves quickly with the energy saved over time.

‘Retrofit’ lighting upgrades consistently top surveys as the most popular energy efficiency investment. This is not surprising when you consider that replacing aging fluorescent tubes with LEDs can deliver energy savings as high as 65%.

Bedfordshire East Multi Academy Trust (BEMAT) is one such organisation that has made the switch. Head of Capital and Projects Ian Kite explains, “It has been estimated that we can cut energy costs by over 69 tons of CO2 across the three schools, so the case was highly compelling,” says Kite.

In other evidence, retrofit boiler optimisation technology (a simple installation which improves the efficiency of existing boilers without affecting the temperature of the building) has been proven to save schools 15% a year on energy bills, with overall payback estimated at 2.5 years. The faster the percentage wins and the speed of return the better.

Is there such a thing as a risk-free finance scheme?

Energys Group has found that leasing arrangements are particularly suitable for schools, and has been able to provide financing to numerous schools in a partnership with schools’ lending specialist Utility Rentals.

For peace of mind, the scheme complies with the Academies Financial Handbook. BEMAT’s lighting upgrade project was funded in this way, following a thorough due diligence exercise undertaken by the Trust.

“There is no requirement for any upfront capital investment; the cost of the lease is paid for through the monthly savings made,” says Kite. “All of the lighting is fully maintained for the duration of the lease. It makes sound commercial sense and it derisks the whole process.”

Can I trust the predicted energy savings/payback period I’m shown?

“It is wise for governors to opt for proven technologies that have already been seen to cut energy use in similar applications and schools,” says Kevin Cox, Managing Director of Energys Group.

“Dealing with well-established suppliers that provide lengthy warranties can ensure peace of mind. High-profile ‘eco-bling’, such as solar PV panels, may be an exciting prospect, but many schools already waste more energy than they would hope to generate through solar power.

“Targeting areas of energy waste, such as outdated lighting, inefficient boilers and uninsulated plant room equipment typically delivers far more substantial carbon savings.”

Choosing the right supplier

 It pays to ensure that your supplier offers a robust warranty. Not only does it show that the supplier is confident their product won’t fail, it also takes the risk out of the decision.

Energys, for example, offers a 5 year warranty on our lighting products. However there are many companies that don’t offer this length of time, so it’s worth shopping around for those who do.

It is also worth checking the financial stability and trading history of your prospective supplier; a long warranty is not especially helpful if the supplier is unlikely to be around to honour it. For further reassurance, you could also specify suppliers that include an ongoing maintenance service as part of their package.

Considering the business case for school energy efficiency improvements? Read our education case studies or contact us for advice.

BEIS seeks industry engagement to deliver £1.3 billion in energy savings

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is seeking views on how to drastically change the consumption of heat and energy in non-domestic properties after uncovering potential savings of over £1.3 billion a year from private sector initiatives.

In a recently launched call for evidence (CfE), data collected by BEIS found that there was potential for savings of 63,160 GWh/year from increased energy efficiency, representing a 39% reduction from current levels of consumption.

The study also concluded that over a third of this abatement potential (22,080 GWh/year) could come from measures with a private investment payback of three years or less. The bill savings from these measures was £1.3bn a year, in addition to the undisclosed funds which could be saved from the remaining consumption reductions.

The data was collected from a building energy efficiency survey (BEES) of 1.57 million non-domestic properties in England and Wales, where the potential for savings were considered across all types of building. The most cost effective measures were identified to be lighting upgrades improvements in building energy management and insulation.

BEIS’ report also recognised the need to overcome a number of barriers to increased energy efficiency, most commonly found to be economic such as low capital availability and investment or hidden costs. Organisational barriers as well as those related to identifying opportunities to save energy were also found, in addition to behavioural barriers.

To read more on the DBEIS report click here. Alternatively, for more information and advice on how to save energy in offices and commercial buildings, contact us here for a free site survey.

What you need to know about the new Salix Energy Efficiency Fund for academies and sixth forms

This year Salix has launched a new fund that aims to support energy efficiency projects in multi-academy trusts (MATs) and sixth form colleges (SFC).

The new Salix Energy Efficiency Fund (SEEF) is designed to support numerous energy efficiency upgrades including LED upgrades and boiler control installations.  Here we answer your questions on SEEF and the results you can achieve with the support of the new Salix funding scheme.

What is the funding for?

The Salix Energy Efficiency Fund focuses on supporting academy and sixth form energy efficiency projects that need capital to invest to save but may not meet the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) criteria.

Who is eligible for funding?

SEEF funding is available for all academies including multi-academy trusts (MATs) and sixth form colleges (SFCs).

What energy efficient projects does SEEF support?

Numerous energy efficiency projects can be carried out under SEEF including LED lighting upgrades, heating control installations and boiler and heating system upgrades.  See here for a full list of eligible technologies. Energys Group offers a number of energy saving technologies which are eligible for SEEF funding.

What’s the payback period?

Projects must pay for themselves within 8 years through annual energy savings. If the project doesn’t meet the 8 year payback target, capital can be put towards paying back SEEF.

Where can I apply?

Application forms for SEEF can be found here. All completed applications will need to be emailed to schoolsapplication@salixfinance.co.uk.

Suppliers are permitted to complete and submit Salix applications on behalf of clients; Energys Group has helped numerous schools and academies with this process. Contact us for advice.

What is the deadline for applying?

Applications for the Salix Energy Efficiency Fund can be submitted from October 2016. The deadline for applications is 3pm on Friday 13th January 2017.

What are the benefits of a SEEF funded energy efficiency upgrade?

Looking for real-life examples of what can be achieved through Salix funding? Energys has helped many schools and colleges save money and improve learning conditions with Salix-funded upgrades. One of our clients, Hackney Community College, is saving 320 tonnes of CO2 a year through the instalment of Energys LED lighting and boiler optimisation technologies.

Salix funding has also helped Harry Gosling School achieve £7K annual energy savings with an LED lighting upgrade from Energys. For more inspiration read our education case studies page.

Looking for advice on how to save energy in schools? Contact us and ask for a free site survey.