A Siemens Christmas Carol - Bah humbug!
While it’s the most wonderful time of the year as businesses wind down and families get together for the Yuletide celebrations, the excesses of the festive season can have a devastating effect on the environment. Energy costs can go through the roof as we use more to keep us warm and fed; resulting in heftier bills and making for a less than Merry Christmas. With the pressures of being more environmentally responsible can UK businesses really have an eco-friendly Christmas without being Scrooges?
Christmas Past and Present
Replace lighting with something smarter
In the office, it generally makes sense to update lighting systems given 46% of an organisation’s operating costs are spent on energy and utilities, with 25 % of the electricity bill for lighting.
Smart lights - LEDs with integrated IoT sensors – have been a real advancement. They can adjust to individual lighting preferences or allow groups of lights to behave in concert with varying levels of brightness, monitor room occupancy and turn off if everyone has left the room, balance artificial light and daylight to give consistent illumination and co-ordinate lighting across defined areas. WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity makes them adaptable to future applications and data collection needs.
Smart light applications also extend to space planning, asset tracking, conference room management and hotdesking. Developers that have opened up their APIs allow for easier integration with other third-party systems and applications including location services and spatial analysis.
Better regulation of lighting means businesses can benefit from better control over their energy management and more efficient use of space, based on data collected about room usage.
Steve Loughney of Siemens Smart Infrastructure says: “Not only are you replacing older lights for newer more efficient ones and reducing your bills but you’re also putting lighting (energy) control at your fingertips - future proofing any investments to create an environment that cares. Smarter lights have added health benefits too; staff will have better levels of concentration and motivation plus lower levels of stress.”
Keep warm without costing the earth
Keeping offices warm and ventilated, particularly in ageing draughtier buildings, throughout the winter months can be costly with significant amounts of money wasted. Building Energy Management Systems [BEMS] offer businesses the ability to manage a more stable indoor climate while reducing costs and carbon emissions. BEMs feature a demand-side response operation that can turn heating, cooling or humidity controls up or down as needed while letting predictive analytics bring energy sources back online depending upon the conditions.
Loughney, Siemens Smart Infrastructure adds: “Maintaining a comfortable work environment doesn’t always mean having to change the thermostat, or opening and closing windows. BEMS help businesses to understand how their environment is performing and allows managers to control and adjust systems to optimise performance and comfort plus they aren’t just for larger or more complex buildings, or multiple sites with a number of buildings as simpler pared-down versions have been developed for smaller needs.”
Over the holiday period, Loughney notes: “Many offices could be vacated with businesses left to leave buildings ‘on’ to maintain a level of warmth and security. There is a fine balance between not wasting energy and protecting a building and some form of environment automation could alleviate issues such as frozen pipes.”
Understand what you are using then make changes
With the government legally bound to reduce CO2 emissions to net zero by 2050 UK businesses have a responsibility to help reach some of that ambition. The first and most important step is to understand how much energy is being used. An audit of current energy usage details how a business can reduce its total energy consumption so it can lower costs and improve its carbon footprint.
Capturing the right data and its correct application is driving digitalisation. Analysis of information from the past reveals how well buildings and equipment have been performing making decisions smarter when identifying or optimising big energy users, adopting energy procurement strategies or building business cases for on-site power generation.
ESOS, applicable to large businesses (over 250 employees or turnover of more than €250 million), was introduced to help organisations identify measures that could help them become more energy efficient and to promote sustainability. Energy-saving measures could include driving down energy consumption to reduce costs and environmental impact, creating a more sustainable energy mix or storing and generating energy on site to reduce the reliance on the grid and procuring energy at the best price. The Phase 2 deadline passed on 5th December 2019 and ESOS 3 commences shortly after Christmas.
Building operators that want to phase in more expensive improvements with financial support can turn to Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) - a financing instrument that can fund and fast track large scale energy improvement projects. EPC absorbs the upfront capital costs of any energy-saving measures against the expected energy-consumption savings.
On financing energy-saving projects, Mark McLoughlin, Siemens Industries and Markets , Siemens Financial Services (UK) adds “Expert financiers are able to offer customised finance packages, tailored to fit a business’ particular circumstances and cash flow needs, which intelligently spread the cost over an agreed financing period, and flex to ensure that monthly finance payments align with expected benefits gained over time. This removes the need for a large initial outlay, thereby increasing the funds available for other expenditures.”
Loughney of Siemens Smart Infrastructure continues: “With a raft of measures readily available businesses can use energy more efficiently to improve their environmental credentials. We all have a responsibility to learn from the past and lessen our environmental impact so the future yet to come remains sustainable. Actions, no matter how small, make a difference and you certainly won’t have to be a Scrooge to be eco-friendly this Christmas or at any other time.”
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.