The Energys April 2018 horizon scan: everything you need to know on UK energy efficiency

MEES regulations hit home

This month, the long awaited Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards came into force on April 1.

The Telegraph reported on what commercial landlords should do to ensure they are compliant with the law.

It argues that hundreds of thousands of properties may need urgent upgrades if they are to comply, saying that according to Government figures there could be up to 285,000 properties in need of renovation.

Landlords who don’t carry out the required upgrades could face fines of up to £5,000 per property. But it appears many remain unaware of the looming deadline.

David Symons of WSP, a property consultancy, told The Telegraph: “We are working with a lot of landlords but there are still many, both in residential and commercial, who haven’t heard about the changes.”

But how should landlords fund the actual improvements? The broadsheet argues that for major upgrades landlords might consider re-mortgaging the property, or taking a further advance from their current lender to pay for the work.

Taking MEES to task

“Funding MEES improvements is clearly a challenge,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys Group.

“But nonetheless it’s essential that the UK’s commercially rented property becomes rapidly more energy efficient.

“While there are additional costs, the benefits of carrying out efficiency work include boosting the value of a property and its potential yield.

“With that in mind it effectively becomes a no-brainer to ramp up efficiency, as it will also deliver reduced energy bills.”

The Telegraph puts particular emphasis on boiler renovation. It estimates the cost at £2,000, but crucially notes that a very efficient condensing boiler could add as many as 40 points onto a property’s score.

Given the minimum threshold for an E-rated property is 39, this fix is likely to make many properties compliant.

Rob Bence of advice site Property Hub told the Telegraph: “It might not be the cheapest thing you can do, but replacing your boiler is definitely one of the most effective when it comes to improving the energy efficiency of a property.

“Replacing an inefficient boiler with a condensing boiler could take your EPC rating from a low F to a comfortable E.”

Finally, The Telegraph also recommends LED light bulbs, calling them much more energy efficient and a very cheap fix for those landlords on the margins of compliance.

Energy efficiency in Parliament

Business Green has noticed a welcome trend for 2018; a growing number of debates on energy efficiency in Westminster.

At the MPs’ discussions, focus is growing on the need for energy efficiency improvements and the social, economic and environmental opportunities they can deliver.

MPs are realising that energy efficiency measures provide a public service, as they can insulate consumers against the volatility of energy markets.

But, despite MPs from all major parties agreeing improving energy efficiency is an absolute must, that benefits wallets, the Treasury and the climate, few further details or pledges for action were actually wrung out of the Clean Growth Strategy at the most recent debate.

“It’s fantastic that we’re seeing more and more emphasis on energy efficiency in Parliament this year,” comments Kevin Cox.

“But we now need to turn this emphasis into solid policy that brings the energy efficiency revolution yet closer.”

And finally…

EDIE writes that 5G could deliver a £6bn opportunity for smart, resource and energy efficient UK cities.

O2’s ‘Value of 5G for cities and communities’ report identifies how 5G connectivity will harvest the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver the savings.

According to the report, communities are set to benefit across areas including resource efficiency, transport, data access and energy consumption.

The report predicts that households will save £145 on energy bills through 5G enabled smart grids. And energy savings of £91m can be recognised by the adoption of smart LED street lighting.

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Energys Group digest: key messages from edie’s Sustainability Report

Kevin Cox calls on FM & EM professionals to “Learn, educate, share and make sustainability pay its way”

Energys Group is the UK’s leading supplier and installer of retrofit low-carbon technologies to major projects for public sector agencies, including NHS, MOD and education.

As experts and key advisors to the public sector, we’ve taken a close look at the recent edie Sustainability Report to digest the key messages for public-sector energy and sustainability managers.

Here’s where we are: the bad news

According to the report (link), The UK’s public sector is at a crossroads. A perfect storm of biting austerity, stalled wage growth and intense political upheaval has instilled a feeling of uncertainty across the landscape.

To deal with the ongoing austerity bite, greater investment will be required by public sector bodies to scale-up onsite sustainability solutions, roll-out more sustainable products and services, and embed sustainability throughout organisational structures.

By taking a sensible approach to long-term investment in more efficient operations, public bodies must deliver services at lower cost whilst continuing to benefit the community and local economy and providing greater value to the taxpayer.

How do we do this?

Learning from the best: NHS inspires

More than two-fifths 44% of survey respondents recognised the need to learn from sustainability best-practice from public sector bodies, cities and regions across the globe.

When asked which organisation provides the most inspiration to drive forward with corporate sustainability, several edie survey respondents specifically referenced the NHS’s successful and influential Sustainable Development Unit, which is helping to coordinate carbon reduction across the organization.

  • Inspiration: £414m predicted NHS savings each year by 2020 through resource and energy efficiency programmes

Educate: cut costs without affecting key services

The health sector in particular has taken great strides to implement sustainability projects which generate economic savings. Many NHS Trusts have taken advantage of the Carbon and Energy Fund (CEF) framework, with the aim of cutting costs without impinging on patient care.

An energy efficiency programme at Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester, is anticipated to slash £1.9m from the hospital’s annual energy bill.

Share: engagement & expertise

Asked what one thing would make their job easier, many participants focused on a need to boost levels of internal engagement, with responses ranging from “more senior management buy-in and leadership” to “a collective approach to implementing sustainability across the whole organisation’s activities”.

“We know that the NHS and health sector is facing its greatest financial challenge, and we need to seize every opportunity to realise savings and efficiencies. We don’t have to choose between saving money and protecting the environment – we can make decisions that will do both as well as improve people’s health.” David Pencheon, director of the Sustainable Development Unit, NHS.

Ministers have long been implored to meet with leading Trusts to establish how this best-practice can be shared nationally. Campaigners claim the NHS could free up significant funds for front-line services if the Government lent its support to develop low-carbon measures.

Take the lead

Energys Group Managing Director, Kevin Cox reiterates his call for NHS facilities managers, energy managers and Trust chiefs to take the lead in making their estates more energy efficient, and return the savings to where there is the most need – patient care.

“There is no argument from us that staff at the NHS do crucial work, whether on the front-line caring for, transporting and supporting patients directly, or in the critical, unseen and unheralded back-room services, such as administration, maintenance, HR and finance.

“But there is more to be done to ensure that those who work in this 24-hour, 365 days a year service, are not paying the price for their care, in poor working conditions, inefficient buildings and at increased risk to their own health and wellbeing. The NHS needs to look after itself in order that it can look after the public.”

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The Energys Group regulatory round up; what’s key in the world of environmental legislation?

Green regs will stay post Brexit

This March, welcome news has come that the UK will hold firm to it’s world-leading stance on sustainable regulation.

Business Green reports Theresa May has given the clearest indication yet of her intention to minimise post-Brexit disruption for the green economy, promising to maintain environmental standards and work as closely as possible with key EU energy and environment agencies post-Brexit.

May’s promises; the regulatory rundown

The Prime Minister made the green promises as part of a speech on the UK’s future economic partnership with the EU.

She did not specifically name any new binding commitments, but reiterated the government had no intention of rolling back environmental protections.

“In areas like workers’ rights or the environment, the EU should be confident that we will not engage in a race to the bottom in the standards and protections we set,” she said.

“There is no serious political constituency in the UK which would support this – quite the opposite.”

Indeed, she made a commitment to ensure the relevant UK regulatory standards remain at least as high as the EU’s.

And further, the Prime Minister confirmed the UK would seek associate membership or close cooperation with a host of European agencies, including the European Chemicals Agency which governs the sweeping REACH regulations.

Similarly, May hinted the UK would explore continued close cooperation with the EU’s energy union and Euratom agency.

She concluded: “The UK has among the highest environmental and animal welfare standards of any nation on earth.

“As we leave the EU we will uphold environmental standards and go further to protect our shared natural heritage. And I fully expect that our standards will remain at least as high as the EU’s.”

“The promises will come as welcome reading to the low carbon sector,” commented Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys.

“This assertion that no watering down of green law is coming, is exactly what low carbon needed. Now let’s get on with the day to day essentials of embedding and meeting the green targets and commitments we’ve already made.”

UK sticks to its green guns; what’s in the pipeline for 2018 green law?

Energy Performance Certificates: As of April 1, all commercial buildings within the scope of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) must have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E, or they will be illegal to rent out.

The April change is absolutely crucial to delivering better energy efficiency in UK buildings.

What’s happening with our air?

In February, the Government was slammed by the courts for failing to produce a plan to tackle the growing problem of air pollution.

The judgment will force ministers back to the drawing board in their efforts to clean up dirty urban air. The court heard that, 8 years after the UK was found to be in breach of legal limits on the pollutant, levels were still too high in 37 out of 43 zones across the country.

Ministers have been slow to get to grips with the problem, which has been caused in part by the rise in the number of diesel vehicles on the roads, and increasing urbanisation.

New law isn’t yet here on air. But we may have just seen the final limits breached that will make new regs inevitable.

News just in: Spring Statement

It’s been revealed Chancellor Philip Hammond’s March Spring Statement contains a long-awaited call for evidence on how to tackle single-use plastic waste.

In all likelihood, this will lead to eventual new tax law on single use plastic.

Further, green groups will be nurturing hopes the March Statement may kick off the consultations on energy efficiency that were trailed in last year’s Clean Growth Strategy, or provide more detail on how Ministers intend to fund aspects of the 25 Year Environment Plan.


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The Energys Group March 2018 horizon scan; top insights for futureproofing low carbon business

At Energys Group, we are constantly monitoring global work on energy efficiency. And we’d like to draw your attention to a change at EU level that many of us may have missed in the Christmas build up.

EU ups the ante on buildings energy efficiency standards

On December 19, while most of us were pondering what Santa might deliver, the EU delivered a different kind of present.

Reuters reports that the Union has created new rules on energy standards for all new public buildings, plus improvements for existing buildings, which account for considerable EU greenhouse gas emissions.

“The fight against climate change starts ‘at home’, given that over a third of [the] EU’s emissions [are] produced by buildings. By renovating and making them smart, we are catching several birds with one stone: energy bills, people’s health, and the environment,” Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said in a statement.

The new rules, which aim to boost energy performance across the public sector and encourage renovations aimed at creating more energy-efficient buildings, are most welcome.

But at home, we can’t say for sure whether the EU’s move will make differences in the UK as 2018 progresses.

The key is the Great Repeal Bill. The BBC explains that this critical plank of legislation has reached the committee stage in the House of Commons, which is where there will probably be many attempts by MPs to change its wording.

The idea is that all existing EU legislation will be copied across into domestic UK law, to ensure a smooth transition on the day after Brexit.

So, theoretically at least, now the EU has raised its standards on efficiency, there’s no reason why these new rules shouldn’t remain in place here after Brexit too.

This would be a real positive for energy efficiency in the UK public sector. We already have Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards delivering real change across rented properties. If we can embed EU-derived laws to raise the bar on new public buildings, and renovate existing schools and hospitals, we can massively improve the quality of our public services and increase our transition to low carbon.

At Energys, we hope these new EU standards make it into UK law as Brexit progresses.

What exactly will the new EU rules do?

The EU package creates a clear path towards low and zero emissions building stock by 2050, underpinned by national roadmaps to decarbonise buildings.

First, it encourages the use of information and communication technology (ICT) and smart technologies to ensure buildings operate efficiently, by introducing automation and control systems.

Additionally, it introduces a ‘smartness indicator’ which will measure buildings’ capacity to use new technologies and electronic systems to optimise operation and interact with the grid.

Given the Government’s determination to update and reinvent a smarter UK grid, we feel sure these new EU efficiency changes should make it into UK law. And because EU member states determine their own internal laws on top level standards like these, we could take the measures even further if we have the will.

Let’s be sure our sector as a whole continues to advocate, and ensure this EU efficiency reform package doesn’t get swept under the Brexit carpet.

The final word

January is generally a quiet time, as the sector gets back to work and looks forward to a year of promise. But this EU news, delivered quietly before Christmas, is a real reason to celebrate.

Let’s use the EU lead to push for a more radical, disruptive, energy efficient UK public sector as Brexit deadlines draw ever nearer.

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The Energys February 2018 horizon scan; top insights and analysis on low carbon business

UK electricity consumption falls

According to The Guardian, the UK was the only country in the EU to reduce its electricity consumption last year, with power use growing or stable across the rest of the bloc’s 28 member states.

Simon Evans, Policy Editor at Analysts CarbonBrief, told the broadsheet: “This is one of the least reported and most significant stories in the UK power sector.

“Since 2005, the UK has saved the equivalent of two-and-a-half Hinkley Point Cs, a trend that started several years before the financial crisis.”

There is the sense that energy efficiency is contributing to the wins, both in terms of industrial and corporate efficiency, plus energy savings in the home.

“The 2017 fall is large and is at odds with other European countries, and puts the UK clearly on the road to lower electricity consumption,” said Dave Jones, Carbon and Power Analyst at Sandbag.

Overall, electricity demand has fallen by 9% in the UK in the past seven years, the sharpest decline in the EU. Meanwhile, Poland chalked up the biggest rise, at 9% over the same period.

The Guardian’s takeaway; Britain’s appetite for power has been waning for more than a decade as industrial activity declines and businesses and households opt for more energy efficient lighting and appliances.

At Energys, we’re delighted by the trend. “The numbers prove that the UK is well and truly on the energy efficient pathway,” comments Kevin Cox.

“It’s a story that deserves far wider coverage; as a country we are doing extremely well, we should be congratulated and the news should be widely shared.”

Energy sector cleans up

In what’s otherwise a strikingly positive month, The Energyst reports transport has overtaken the energy supply sector as the largest contributor of UK greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions.

Statistics released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show falling coal generation in the power sector is driving the broader energy sector’s decarbonisation.

Against 1990 baseline levels, the UK has decarbonised by 36% and reduced total greenhouse gas emissions by 41%. The energy sector has reduced emissions since 1990 by 57%, despite a 9% rise in final energy demand over that period. The transport sector has decreased emissions by 2% in 26 years.

Crucially, emissions from business, responsible for 17% of overall emissions in 2016, declined by 5% year on year and have dropped 29% since 1990. It’s key that much of that reduction is attributable to energy efficiency, and some to the decline of British heavy industry.

“What’s vital now is to replace the waning energy-intensive UK industries with low carbon, disruptive alternatives,” comments Cox.

“Our industry and economy is changing. That’s an opportunity to drive new types of energy smart business.”

The Government has also recently said the UK remains on track to meet the second Carbon Budget.

Energy-efficient London

Finally this month, Sadiq Khan has announced the latest phase of the Energy for Londoners initiative, detailing plans to invest £34m in a range of new services and programmes designed to boost energy efficiency and improve access to clean power across the capital.

“My Energy for Londoners scheme aims to help those most in need with grants for new boilers, windows and home insulation to help cut fuel bills. I’m also working on a number of ambitious projects to generate more local clean energy to power our homes, businesses and communities,” said Khan.

The Mayor’s Office said new projects included plans for a new whole house ‘eco refurbishments’ initiative, which would pilot extensive green upgrades; a £10m commercial boiler scrappage scheme which will offer capital grants to businesses switching to more efficient heating systems; and an ongoing plan to deliver 1GW of solar capacity across the capital by 2030, including a £4.5m programme to install solar on Transport for London (TfL) buildings.

At Energys, we’re delighted to report on such positive overall UK energy trends this February. Let’s hope the good news keeps coming throughout 2018.

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