New report says energy efficiency is not just needed; it’s essential

A new report from the Royal Academy of Engineering says, ‘Improving energy efficiency and resource productivity needs to be a priority.’ The paper definitively reveals just how key efficiency is for a resilient, effective UK.

The report, a collaboration of 38 organisations, forms the engineering profession’s collective response to the government’s green paper on industrial strategy. It has benefited from an unprecedented level of engagement by the engineering community; vital to creating its meaningful, focused lobbying position on efficiency.

Describing the paper, the Energyst writes that, ‘The UK’s main engineering bodies have urged government to provide energy efficiency payments or tax breaks to businesses, communities and households that can demonstrate proven reductions in demand.

‘The engineers also urged government to give teeth to existing energy efficiency regulations. Focusing on energy efficiency and productivity will be the cheapest way of decarbonising the economy and increasing UK competitiveness.’

Energy efficiency’s vital role; the Royal Academy paper in depth

The Academy is unequivocal; energy efficiency is essential, and it’s needed sooner rather than later.

It writes; ‘Energy efficiency is often overlooked, but a unit of energy saved is usually much cheaper than all production options. Reducing demand has a double benefit: it benefits the user by reducing their costs and it benefits the system by reducing the amount of generation required.’

The Academy argues that incentives and regulation should go hand-in hand with reporting against energy efficiency benchmarks of performance standards, which many in the professional engineering community would view as a reasonable requirement.

Plenty in the wider sector agree. “Improving energy efficiency and resource productivity needs to be a priority, particularly in buildings, and a systems-thinking approach is required to deliver this in all sectors,” Ant Wilson, Director and AECOM Fellow, Sustainability and Advanced Design Building Engineering, told The Academy.

What comes next?

“Papers like these go a long way towards proving what we at Energys know; how vital energy efficiency is to a resilient and productive UK,” says Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“Here, we are keen to work with all stakeholders, including the government, to establish and deliver the best systems for promoting efficient growth and sustainable UK businesses.”

The Academy’s paper concludes that in order to achieve the goal of secure, stable and affordable energy supply, the government needs to base its policymaking around multi-vector, system-wide solutions that build on end-use energy efficiency measures.

Such work could do much to put the UK on the path to the overarching sustainability so badly needed, not only for business profit, but for CO2 remediation and more secure, longer term power.

“As such, papers like these are essential to helping raise the level of the debate, in advance of the energy efficient futures we all predict will soon be here,” concludes Cox.

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.

Smart tech vital for UK’s growth, say 95% of business leaders

A majority (95%) of big business leaders consider smart technology to be important for the UK’s economic growth.

More than 500 British senior decision-makers have overwhelmingly said they support the digital upgrade of Britain’s energy system, according to a survey from Smart Energy GB.

Around 83% believe Britain’s energy system needs a digital upgrade, with similar numbers believing the smart meter rollout is important for the British economy.

Millions of digital smart meters are currently being installed in homes and small businesses across the country, enabling better management of energy supply and demand. It is expected the new meters will underpin greater integration of smart technology across the country.

Nearly seven out of 10 are considering the technology in their own business strategies.

Just under 90% of respondents said they would like to see government put together a plan for Britain to maximise the economic potential of smart meters, smart meters data and smart technologies.

Around 94% of the people that believe this also said it should be developed hand-in-hand with businesses.

Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive of Smart Energy GB said: “Smart meters are transforming the way consumers are buying and using energy. They’re the vital building blocks of a digital energy system. This research shows that business leaders across the country recognise the incredible opportunities that are being created by the smart meter rollout and the transformation it brings to our energy system.”

For more information about the role of smart technology see here

Energys LED upgrade set to deliver £7K annual savings for Harry Gosling Primary School

The East London primary school has undergone an entire LED lighting upgrade with Energys Group products, in a project that is expected to achieve return of investment (ROI) in just four years.

Given their often stringent financial and operating circumstances, it is to be expected that schools and colleges of higher education have been among the most enthusiastic adopters of energy-efficient lighting technology. Located in Tower Hamlets in the east of London, Harry Gosling Primary School is a case-in-point, having recently instigated an LED upgrade centred around solutions from Energys.

Constructed more than 100 years ago, the school buildings have been the subject of a number of improvements during recent times intended to enhance their efficiency. Most recently of all, School Premises Manager James Doherty took steps to replace legacy fluorescent lighting that was aesthetically displeasing and inconsistent in terms of light distribution. There was also a clear mandate to reduce expenditure on lighting-related energy and maintenance.

Salix funding

A previous positive experience of Energys during a project that saw the energy efficiency specialist provide boiler optimisation for two units (and achieve a 26% saving!) meant that the company was regarded as a natural choice when the subject of a lighting upgrade came up for discussion. In addition to advising on and supplying appropriate LED lighting solutions, Energys was able to support the school through the process of applying for funding from Salix Finance, which delivers 100% interest-free capital to the public sector to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Doherty observes that “because of the Salix funding the school is essentially not incurring any additional costs for the project since repayments can be made from the energy savings”. Clearly, that is another significant reason for the project to have won the support of the school’s management and finance departments.

Radical upgrade

So extensive is the upgrade – which covers all existing lights – that Doherty believes it may make Harry Gosling Primary one of very few schools in the country to have undertaken a complete LED upgrade. Encompassing classrooms, corridors, offices, staircases, ICT rooms, the main hall, offices and common areas, the indoor-only project saw Energys provide a wealth of solutions from its extensive range. LED panels, downlighters, wall-lights, 2D LED lamps, tubes, LED emergency bulkheads and PIR sensors were among the items specified by the Energys team.

Doherty is full of praise for the installers, who he describes as being “very efficient and highly considerate. They undertook the work during the holidays and it really felt like they had become part of our staff – the whole process was so seamless. The fit-out took six weeks, meaning that everything was done and dusted in time for the new term to begin.”

In terms of the end-result, there is no doubt that a dramatic improvement in terms of the overall lighting quality has been achieved. “Light is now a lovely daylight colour and is uniformly diffused, while there are no issues with glare; Energys products having been designed with a very specific focus on reducing glare. There has also been an enhancement of the school’s aesthetics since the new fittings are much more attractive than the old fluorescents.”

Prior to the upgrade lights were failing on a frequent basis, but the long lifecycle of Energys products is expected to lead to a substantial reduction in time and money spent on maintenance. Meanwhile, the Energys products’ five-year guarantee means that if there are any failures the company will come and replace them anyway.

The school’s Display Energy Certificate rating may also improve as the result of a project that cost £29.5K and is estimated to achieve annual savings in the region of £7K. Return on investment is predicted to be as little as four years – a remarkable result given the all-encompassing nature of the upgrade.

Spread the word

The easier disposal process associated with LEDs is another benefit earmarked by Doherty, who says that he is “thrilled by the results of the upgrade. It pains me that there are so many other schools around the country putting up with bad lighting that is wasting energy and also impacting negatively on the learning experience. Evidence about the positive benefits of LEDs for education is increasing all the time. In the future, I would love to show other schools around to help showcase the advantages of the latest LED lighting.”

Raj Gunasekaran, Business Development Manager for Energys, comments: “We are delighted that Harry Gosling Primary School is experiencing such a dramatic improvement in its lighting quality as a result of this upgrade, and believe that the project will be a valuable one in spreading the word to other schools and colleges of higher education about why now is the time to move across to LED.”

Looking for energy saving ideas for schools? Visit our education pages for inspiration and advice, or contact us here.

Retrofit technologies are the lifeblood of buildings and business, confirms new report

A new paper reveals global revenue for energy efficient retrofits in commercial buildings is estimated to exceed $100 billion (£0.74bn) by 2025.

The news is vastly impactful; on a global scale, buildings, both residential and commercial, are said to account for 37% to 45% of total final energy consumption.

Thus, energy efficient technologies stand ready to comprehensively combat climate change, by mitigating carbon emissions from buildings and delivering the futuristic building stock of tomorrow.

Reducing existing energy consumption

At Energys, we’re proud to work at the pinnacle of low carbon tech. Alvin Chen, Research Analyst at Navigant Research, behind the report, said: “Worldwide, countries are making commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change. Energy efficiency retrofits will be a key component toward reducing existing energy consumption and reducing the need for new generation.”

“We know this to be true,” confirms Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys. “Our numerous successful case studies point to the worldwide revolution taking place. Yesterday’s building stock is being made more sustainable at unprecedented rates.”

Retrofitting success stories

Hyde Park Junior School

Energys Group equipped Hyde Park Junior and Infant Schools in Plymouth with retrofit boiler optimisation technology in just a single half-day of work. The project is now predicted to save the schools 15% a year on their energy bills.

Moreover, 9.45 tonnes of carbon savings have been achieved, overall payback is estimated at 2.5 years.

Hackney Community College

Using Salix energy efficiency funding, Hackney Community College in east London has converted 4,900 lamps to LED, as well as implementing boiler optimisation controls and specialist insulation – supplied and installed by Energys Group.

320 tonnes of CO2 a year are being saved, as part of a major energy efficiency upgrade that will pay for itself in just over 2.5 years.

Retrofit to the future

“We’re immensely proud of our track record,” says Cox. “We know our technologies, are comprehensively fit for purpose, futureproof and timely to install. Across schools and hospitals, with the NHS or with private leisure centres, our role in the transition to a sustainable UK is central.”