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End users' ignorance about energy-saving is shocking!

A recent BSRIA survey reveals that a shocking 47% of end users accept estimated energy readings and bills or don't know any energy data at all.

Only 48% have energy commitment at board level, and on average only 38% promote energy to staff and communicate energy to their customers.

Some 44% set targets to improve energy efficiency and alarmingly only 22% measure the effectiveness of their renewable energy technology.

This is all the more shocking, as this technology is very likely the most expensive and could be suspect in terms of its claimed performance in the first place.

The report's conclusion states: 'Although companies are improving their energy management, it is clear from the survey there is a lot of room for further improvement'.

What a massive understatement!

So why is this the case?

Well there is still an amazing amount of ignorance on the basics of energy management and the importance of regular monitoring.

I have been energy auditing and surveying buildings for 24 years and in that time I have repeatedly asked the question of the building or facilities manager "where are your water, gas and electricity meters?"

At least half couldn't locate their water meter and a third admitted to never looking or monitoring their other utility meters.

This has got to be the basis of why energy management isn't taken seriously.

Ask yourself honestly, where are your meters and are they read and actively analysed on a regular basis?

I am optimistic that once smart metering becomes the norm, things will change for the better.

I would like to see a digital readout of energy use in a prominent place perhaps next to the energy certificate. Even better a duplicate arrangement in the managing director's or finance director's office.

This would certainly make them wake up!

It does alarm me, that many organisations have a paper energy policy which doesn't say a lot and is very light on practical implementation measures.

What does often surprise me is that organisations and companies commission energy audits, receive the reports and the detailed action measures that form part of this process but do nothing.

I have had one facilities manager say to me, "we are green now because we've had the audit".

They didn't seem to understand that they had to do something practical!

Another said, yes this is a great report, but the board didn't like it because it showed them "bad things and make the company look inefficient"!

Many others say no funds or budget is available for implementation.

This highlights an amazing lack of ignorance of the issues of energy management.

What we as an industry, the government and wider society need is a massive straight forward education and awareness programme.

Let's keep it simple, most people cannot relate to how many tonnes of carbon are saved let alone a measurement of kilos of carbon per metre squared (Kg CO2 / M2).

Let's stick to what we've been using for years. Units of energy kW / M2 or just a metered unit, that is the measurable and can be easily converted into financial data.

There is a fantastic opportunity for M&E contractors to diversify, especially in the present economic climate.

I have been involved in training both managers and engineers to become basic energy auditors as part of their normal role.

After all contractors are out there on site talking to their customers. So much of this is so basic.

We have a legal duty to do this as well. Any company installing controlled services (that's virtually everything) should be certifying their installation as compliant with the building regulations.

The simplest route to register mechanical installations is via BESCA ( for competent persons self certification.

Part of this legal duty is to advise on saving energy and highlighting additional savings.

This isn't just a legal duty, it is a great business opportunity. Those companies that embrace these ideas will prosper, those that don't will lose out.

Most importantly, it requires an understanding of the issues and how to put the message across. A culture change is needed.

The best thing the industry can do is to start by looking at their own premises and encourage their own staff to participate. We need to get our own house. This education process requires saving our own resources - a benefit direct to the bottom line profit of your company.

This also provides credibility, after all if your customers see that you are putting your money where your mouth is, then they will start to believe. It's a win-win situation all round!
Posted by Mike Malina 01 July 2009 14:09:34 Categories: Malina mulls it over


By Geoff Newman
01 July 2009 14:11:34

I agree with Martin and Mike. Over the last 8 months we have noticed a significant increase from the FM companies looking for energy saving technology - the key driver for this is the Carbon Reduction Commitment.

One of the leading retail businesses in the UK will have to outlay 24m in double CRC allowances in 2010 and 2011 - a huge impact on their working capital.

Energy consumption and carbon is slowly making its way to the board agendas.

Once it has, taking meter readings and having audits completed will not be sufficent. Significant investment will be needed in technology, training and management.
By Martin Brown
01 July 2009 14:10:34

Quite right, it would be difficult to monitor weight loss without a set of scales, similarly you can't effectively reduce energy use without a visible metering system.

All buildings have meters on incoming services, but who is going to go out into the street and find the water meter or into the basement for the gas or electric meters?.

But the technology is there to cheaply link existing meters allowing usable information to be displayed in accessible locations.

There is in theory nothing stopping you putting energy expenditure on to the FM managers email every day.

I say the sooner we have accessible data converted from units of energy to pounds and pence the sooner we all reduce our energy consumption.
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