Many UK businesses will soon be required to complete an energy audit – but even those who aren’t will benefit from doing so.
Do you know how much energy your nursery uses to heat and cool its building’s? Do you know how much fuel is used by its vehicles? These are two key questions that many nursery groups will have to answer by 5 December, 2015. The government has introduced its Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), which requires large businesses with more than 250 staff to complete a comprehensive energy audit.
Although the scheme is designed for organisations with a turnover exceeding £42.5 million, many early years providers will be required to participate because the underlying criteria is a headcount of 250+ irrespective of turnover. The qualification date for the first compliance phase is based upon the situation on 31 December 2014. The first return confirming compliance is due on 5 December, 2015 and repeated every four years. There are significant financial penalties for non-compliance (up to £45,000).
What is ESOS?
It is a mandatory scheme that requires all eligible businesses to complete an energy audit to identify cost-effective energy saving measures. Participants are required to do five things:
- Measure the total energy consumption by carrying out a review of all energy data.
- Conduct site surveys for different building types.
- Agree metrics that will allow a base line to be determined and compare building efficiency.
- Identify and articulate savings opportunities, including the estimated Return on Investment (ROI).
- Compile a report with recommendations on how to save energy.
How do you achieve compliance?
The audit can be done either in-house and signed off by an external ‘lead assessor’, or carried out by an accredited and experienced professional. These resources will become more in demand as the deadline of December 2015 approaches, so an early start is recommended. Director-level approval is required. The audit can make use of information obtained in previous exercises, such as ISO50001 Certification, Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and Green Deal Assessments. Not all of these will be comprehensive enough to cover all the requirements of ESOS.
What are the benefits?
This initiative should be looked upon as an opportunity to reduce costs and not another tedious government survey that has no lasting benefit. Although the ESOS audits are mandatory, acting on the recommendations is not! However, ESOS should be considered as a strategic initiative not only to reduce costs by using more efficient lighting and heating equipment, but also to identify hidden sources of energy waste. To achieve this, businesses must integrate ESOS with their wider energy procurement strategy and ensure that future purchasing decisions are based on a wider consideration of energy efficiency.
The timescales are demanding and will affect only those nursery groups with 250+ staff, but the underlying concept of reducing energy costs is one that can be undertaken by individual nursery settings. An energy management strategy enables a business to gain a competitive commercial edge through ongoing improvements. This will demonstrate to its customers that it is serious about energy efficiency, operating costs and corporate responsibility.
The article “Energy Aware” was first published in Teach Nursery Magazine.