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Unveiling the Industrial Strategy

Sunil Shah 1

By Sunil Shah, Director at Acclaro Advisory

Unveiling the Industrial Strategy in January, the Prime Minister spoke of the need to develop the skills in order to deliver on the expectations of the major new investment to be rolled out. The level and scale of this investment is the largest since Victorian times amounting to in excess of £500bn. One of the sectors includes energy and the need to both maintain the path of decarbonisation whilst also keeping the costs down.

Since the mid 1990’s, the EU has taken a collective view on the risks posed by climate change as one of the greatest affecting the Member States, resulting in a number of regulations designed to encourage progress at a State and organisational level.

Within the UK, there are a number of regulatory mechanisms in place to help understand energy consumption in a building – from energy performance certificates (EPC) through to air conditioning inspections (ACI) and the energy saving opportunity scheme (ESOS) and the financial driver of the carbon reduction commitment (CRC).

All these regulations have something in common. None have really driven energy savings within organisations. The Carbon Trust identified some 20% of energy savings across businesses in the mid 1990’s through lighting, heating, cooling ad control mechanisms. A similar review in Spring 2016 following the ESOS submissions identified a similar level of saving potential, despite the significant reported reductions.

So why does the gap continue. There are a number of well documented issues including poor whole life understanding of the buildings, lack of skills within the sector to deliver, and reducing payback timeframes together with the conflict between owners and tenants within most buildings.

Operational level skills to understand how energy is consumed in the buildings and where improvements can take place are significantly lacking, where the focus is upon right sizing the building as opposed to capital expenditure. Many of the issues are known – the Innovate UK Building Performance Evaluation highlighted them as:

  • Poor commissioning of LZC technologies
  • Widespread sub-metering issues; strategies are not fully thought through or correctly 
implemented and reconciled
  • Failure of demand-controlled ventilation
  • Specific fan powers higher than design targets and maximum allowable SFPs
  • Gas-fired boilers running in non- condensing mode
  • Back up, fossil fuel systems running as lead system
  • Poor commissioning of automated lighting control

The cornerstone to improved performance is better informed clients. The key challenge is around energy literacy.

Client engagement is vital; many scenarios exist where energy activities are paid for but not necessarily fully delivered. An engaged client is more likely to recognise where the initiatives and energy programmes have not been implemented correctly. The skills of building occupants are at odds with the complexity of the systems in new buildings; where schools have previously employed caretakers, skilled facilities managers on high salaries are needed to look after new high-tech buildings.

There is a key challenge around energy literacy EPCs vs. DECs; design vs. operational energy - methodologies represent different concepts but use the same graphical language to represent outcomes. The minutiae of these are not always well understood by members of the industry and therefore this cannot be expected of clients.

Energy literacy is critical for organisations to understand the operational performance of their buildings and to enable information decisions to be made. Without this level of knowledge will the UK achieve its ambitions through the Industrial Strategy?

CBx provides two training courses to help promote the energy literacy for all those involved in energy performance within buildings.