Businesses are paying around £60 million in unnecessary energy bills annually as a result of energy being wasted every year by office buildings across five UK cities.
That’s according to new research, which found energy wasted by offices in the City of London could be used to power more than 65,000 homes – equivalent to the electricity needs of the housing stock in Kingston upon Thames.
That’s costing businesses in the city around £35 million a year and producing carbon emissions equivalent to those emitted by 46,000 cars annually.
The report from think tank Green Alliance says there have been “limited efforts” to address this issue and most commercial buildings in the UK are inefficient, with overall energy consumption per square metre “flatlined since 2002”.
It suggests better use of digital technologies, such as smart sensors and algorithms to track and modulate energy use in different parts of a building, as an “obvious solution” for businesses to save both money and carbon.
The report adds artificial intelligence (AI) energy optimisation systems already on the market could reduce energy consumption by as much as 14% in commercial buildings with organisations getting their pay back “in just a few months”.
For example, businesses in the City of London could save around £13 million on their energy bills in total within a year.
The research also suggests using these technologies alongside better business incentives would lead to further energy efficiency.
This has already been seen in Australia, where the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) – which requires annual disclosure of the energy performance of buildings and encourages the use of digital technologies – has reduced energy use across the nation’s office buildings by nearly 40% over the last 13 years.
Caterina Brandmayr, Senior Policy Analyst at Green Alliance, said: “We all work for or know businesses that waste energy, whether it’s leaving lights on at night or wasting heat. It’s hard to see why dealing with this problem isn’t yet a priority, for companies in terms of cost savings or for the government in reaching its carbon targets.
“Digital technology is an obvious and inexpensive way to track and control energy use, cutting business costs and carbon emissions. Cities will play a leading role in cutting emissions and would be a great place to start the UK’s business energy efficiency revolution.”