By Jill Stevenson....
Carbon reduction and carbon footprint are terms the population as a whole and business in particular has become accustomed to using.
Not least because league tables introduced by the last Labour government under their Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) plan, pointed the finger at commercial and public sector firms who were seen as ‘baddies’- those who burned the most carbon waste. Punishment was a fine and public scrutiny. The CRC is set to lose some of its teeth this autumn, one of which is believed to be the removal of financial penalties.
But the fight to curb carbon wastage will continue despite this. And one of the reasons is that managing carbon for a company has become synonymous with managing its reputation. No self-respecting company wants to be seen as contributing to global warming if it can help it – not in the eyes of the public nor its shareholders, certainly.
One area where companies can easily reduce carbon - and save themselves cash at the same time - is through management of their utilities bill. And that’s where gas metering and management companies such as Energy Assets come in.
The UK-wide firm, which has its HQ in Livingston near Edinburgh, can count Marks & Spencer and the John Lewis Partnership amongst its growing clientele. Their automated meter reading (AMR) system Pulse 24 monitors and reports on how much gas a company is using and in which locations - allowing the client to budget for forthcoming bills and identify unnecessary wastage. In doing so it not only ensures the company is complying with government targets but saves it money in the long term.
Suffolk County Council saved 3000 tonnes of carbon equivalent to £400,000 (or 10 per cent of its utilities spend) over two years after Energy Assets installed its AMR system in all of the authority’s 220 gas-fired schools.
Energy Assets CEO Phil Bellamy-Lee said: “It is widely recognised within the industry that up to 20 per cent of all energy and water used in buildings is wasted. Right from the start the data we provided enabled Suffolk to pinpoint problems with gas usage across their property portfolios.
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“The main issues were that heating was coming on in schools roughly three hours earlier than necessary, it was staying on after the buildings were closed and, in some cases, it remained on throughout the Christmas holidays. It also appeared that most of the heating was also badly set in terms of frost protection.
“Suffolk weren’t particularly surprised at the findings as an initial two week monitoring trial had identified serious wastage. The Council took the view that their current system was ‘broken’ and needed ‘fixing’ hence the switch over to the AMR meters.”
The Council is now able to monitor its gas supply on a half-hourly basis thanks to data analysis in graph and report form, which has allowed it to carry out its own checks. This has resulted in early intervention with difficulties such as a swimming pool’s heating system staying on too long and one school’s heaters coming on at night rather than during daylight hours. Other benefits to the local authority include the elimination of estimated bills and a reduction in the number of labour hours spent dealing with queries over heating bills.
The largest independent provider of gas metering services in the UK, Energy Assets works with both gas suppliers and multi-site clients. This includes designing and installing mains and meters in new sites or altering existing provision.
Where this affects the construction industry – and the residential sector in particular - is that the government is intent on phasing in a similar scheme – known as smart metering – to every household in the UK by 2019.It will mean empowering householders in terms of gas usage, allowing them to manage their own supplies with the overall aim of reducing wastage.
Future chief executives and householders are currently being brought up to view carbon management as a necessary part of life. This makes resources such as AMR the undisputed energy-saving tools of tomorrow.
• Around 47% of UK carbon dioxide emissions are from buildings - 20% are non-domestic buildings.
• Only around two per cent of current commercial building stock is new and complies with carbon management targets
• The majority of commercial buildings are rented
• New regulations to be introduced next year will result in companies listed on the London Stock Exchange having to report on carbon usage for the first time
• The first international conference on climate change and biodiversity was held in 1992