Central to the ESOS audit process, Lead Assessors have had full diaries over recent months, as businesses have rushed to meet the compliance deadlines set by the UK Government. The requirement for all audits to be approved by a Lead Assessor has given LAs an unrivalled insight into the ups and downs of ESOS compliance. Although reported to be a generally positive and effective process, it has undeniably also drawn out some major issues for those businesses affected. Here we have a look at what one industry expert and Lead Assessor, Lorcan Anglin of Energy Consultancy Inenco, has identified as the most notable problems, and the most important questions raised.
ESOS provides businesses with a plan for energy efficiency, which if followed would bring associated cost savings – but while the argument for acting on ESOS recommendations can be compelling, actually implementing the plan could be too great a hurdle for some. Whilst on one hand it makes little financial sense to leave the ESOS recommendations to gather dust on a shelf, businesses my conversely feel that they do not have the time or resources to follow up on them. This is certainly the case for many of the clients visited by Lorcan. With ESOS compliance now ticked off the task list, he believes that many are simply returning to business as usual, “Unfortunately the internal resources just don’t exist in many cases, so the opportunities identified will most likely not be delivered upon.”
Whilst ESOS awareness is growing, educating internal staff on energy efficiency measures and requirements is a further issue which Lorcan feels is affecting many of the clients he has come into contact with, “There is a definite need for upskilling of client’s internal staff, as energy information becomes more detailed and compliance requirements greater. This is all the more important as other aspects come to the fore, such as Heat Networks, P272, and not to mention the next phase of ESOS, which has already started!”. Without this crucial upskilling, many businesses may find themselves constantly playing catch-up and fulfilling compliance requirements without ever benefiting from the additional information now at their fingertips.
For most businesses, the financial case for energy efficiency measures needs to be demonstrated before changes can be implemented. Lorcan reports that many are asking, “What are the baselines before we move forward to try to optimise?”. While ESOS has gone some way to identifying areas where savings could be made, using data to quantify opportunities and verify their outcome is something which businesses are often struggling with. There is frequently also a lack of understanding about the opportunities available for changing energy and water costs, with businesses prone to sticking with simple technology changes eg. to lighting, when they could be making larger changes to the way they approach their energy use, and examining their demand drivers in much more sustained and effective ways.
The majority of businesses caught by the ESOS legislation are within the private sector. Whilst these large businesses can benefit greatly from energy saving measures identified by the scheme, there is a need for similar focus on energy saving within the public sector, particularly in the current economic climate. This isn’t the only gap which Lorcan has noticed: “Transport accounts for significant energy consumption, but isn’t measured or controlled. For many organisations, this is a huge untapped area for potential costs savings. There is certainly a place for new incentive schemes in this area.”
One final issue which has been noted by Lorcan during the ESOS process, is that many businesses are uncertain about how to deal with their reporting responsibilities going forward. He explains, “Despite the scheme being broadly successful, many businesses are looking at ISO50001 as a possible alternative, to avoid the next round of ESOS altogether”. Many businesses, however, are uncertain of which option would be the best choice for them, and sometimes even whether they are eligible for the different schemes. The advice which Lorcan would give? “Once you have ESOS compliance under your belt, decide what you would like to achieve next, and then seek the help you need to achieve it.”
If your business has questions about ESOS, or would like advice on compliance or implementation of energy efficiency measures, expert help is available at every stage. Why not get in touch today?