Hitting the benchmark for energy management
This week’s guest blog comes from npower Energy Manager Jonathan Hulbert, sharing news about the Carbon Trust Standard for effective energy management.
You might expect that an energy company would be good at energy management when it comes to looking after its own offices and buildings. And I’m delighted to say, following our successful certification to the Carbon Trust Standard last week, we can at least claim to be making some headway.
Last year, we reduced our electricity consumption by 16%, and are on track to achieve our 2014 target of reducing the carbon intensity in our offices by 38%, compared to a 2008 baseline.
So, as you can imagine, this is good news to report. The other positive is that while achieving savings keeps the finance team happy, we are also helping to improve the working environment for staff too. Offices are becoming more efficient and comfortable places to be following upgrades to lighting, heating and ventilation systems.
But the thing about energy management – and retaining Carbon Trust Standard certification – is that your job is never done. We need to keep finding ways to reduce our carbon emissions on an on-going basis.
The key areas assessed by the Carbon Trust Standard are measurement, management and performance. Like many of our customers, I have to manage a diverse portfolio of buildings of different ages and profiles – and this presents a variety of challenges. For me, the first step was to gather accurate, up-to-date consumption data that I could easily access and analyse.
Installing automated meter reading technology at all our non-half-hourly sites and on our gas meters, with data fed through to encompass energy management software, provided the solution. This consolidates consumption data for every building across the entire portfolio in one place, and I am clearly able to see where both electricity and gas use has increased or decreased compared to the previous week, month or year. I can also create consumption profiles to identify any possible areas of waste. And I can access this 24/7, as well as share it with colleagues across the business and my facilities management contractors.
In terms of increasing energy efficiency, encompass has helped me, for example, analyse consumption profiles and amend the heating settings to more accurately reflect actual occupancy – leading, at one office site, to a 28% reduction in gas consumption in just one year.
Where offices require refurbishment, we follow the SKA Gold Standard set by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to ensure energy efficiency and sustainability are at the heart of decision making for any work undertaken. We have also installed on-site solar PV at eight buildings, which we estimate is saving in the region 160 tonnes of carbon a year from grid electricity use.
Of course, having access to npower’s own team of experts – from metering and data collection specialists to renewable energy consultants – has been invaluable. But in that respect, I’m no different from any other energy manager. Expert support is available to all our customers – you just need to ask.
In particular, working with the npower Optimisation Desk has helped us make significant cost savings via Direct Budget Management, which is a supported solution to making the transition from a fixed to flexible purchasing contract. Over the past year, this has delivered a 10% saving compared to us having signed up for an equivalent fixed-price contract.
I often describe my job as ensuring every kilowatt hour of energy is working as effectively as it possibly can. And with an increasing range of energy management tools now available, this is becoming ever more achievable. Gaining Carbon Trust Standard certification also puts us in good company, joining the likes of some of our leading customers such as Marks and Spencer, Lafarge and BT. My hope is that many other companies will follow. Certainly, my belief is that if I can do it, then with similar support from npower, there’s no reason why you can’t too.