Monday, 15 February 2010

Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings co-exist

The commonly held myth that energy efficiency costs more than it rewards is no longer holding true. The UK’s most progressive educational institutions are embracing the need to look at efficiencies and aren’t afraid to take action.

Managers of educational facilities have budgetary responsibilities, but they also have a responsibility for the comfort of their building occupants. Providing reliable and plentiful heat and power often takes priority over cost and efficiency. Finding the right balance can be a matter of design or pure chance, but irrespective of the stimulus results speak for themselves.

Take this example: a University College whose utilities bills had doubled in 18 months (but with no systems for monitoring the usage), a committee with an environmental remit posing questions about energy use, a conscientious student enquiring about the College’s carbon footprint – what do you do?

Seek expert help of course, but engaging a consultant can be a daunting prospect. It doesn’t have to be, there is help out there. The Carbon Trust’s free opportunities assessment survey scheme is one to take advantage of. The Trust will appoint one of its carefully selected consultants to survey and analyse the energy efficiency of your site. The consultant will report back to site management with a list of recommendations.

This particular University College took full advantage of the Carbon Trust’s scheme and the results speak volumes.

An initial assessment carried out by ADIAN Consulting identified the potential for a staggering 40% energy reduction in energy consumption achievable through a few simple yet effective methods:

• Refurbishing College rooms and installing heat saving insulation (without losing any of the original Edwardian features and character)
• Closing off open staircases
• Replacing old and inefficient boiler systems with new energy efficient plant

These simple measures will deliver a 40% reduction in energy usage, but not only that, this University College also expects to save hard cash to the value of £40k per year.

Additional cost reduction will come from a full review and audit of utility bills to ensure savings are locked in for both the short and the long term.

Longer term initiatives such as putting in place a system to measure and manage half hourly energy usage is essential preparation for the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) being introduced in April 2010. Systems planned for introduction include smart sub-metering units and data collection software to monitor consumption by location and time. The metering system will provide essential data to identify further savings. CRC will impact many walks of life, not just large corporates.

In summary any education facility can take the leap into energy efficiency and it is possible to be energy efficient without spending your entire budget. Just remember:

• It’s easy to put-off tackling your energy waste, but a good consultant will provide the focus for you and deliver results. This will encourage action and create new appetite for more.

• Make use of the Carbon Trust free opportunities assessment survey scheme. Follow on advice and support is also available

• There are energy efficiency gains to be had in every type of organisation – you just need the expertise to know how.

The indicated savings were made possible as a result of the University College deciding to act on its desire to become more energy efficient, to save money and to reduce its carbon footprint. They took advantage of the Carbon Trust’s free opportunities assessment survey scheme. The Carbon Trust appointed ADIAN Consulting Limited who carried out the project and subsequently presented the results to the College. The leadership team, encouraged by the findings of the report, proceeded to sanction action by the estates team. More work is being planned to ensure the initiative continues to yield welcome savings.

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