Do we need another order to audit?

p10auditBy Ian Ellis, President of the Building Controls Industry Association

The Government launched its consultation on the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) over the summer, and it ends in early October.  The outcome will be interesting because it is a scheme that needs to be handled carefully so that businesses aren’t so busy with paperwork that they don’t get around to achieving energy efficiency.

ESOS is the Government’s proposed approach to implementing Article 8 of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. It requires all EU member states to introduce a regular programme of energy audits for what are described as ‘large enterprises’.  The EU defines this as a company employing more than 250 people and with a turnover of more than 50 million Euros.

Audits have to be carried out from December 2015, and every four years thereafter. However, although the audits are supposed to include advice on increasing energy efficiency in a business, the advice doesn’t have to be taken, so there is no obligation for a business to become more energy efficient as a result of the audit.

The ESOS consultation document is subtitled: “Helping UK enterprises improve profitability through better information on how to save energy”.  The BCIA is certainly a big supporter of educating building owners and operators about how to be more energy efficient. And there is a lot of information out there from members of the BCIA and organisations such as the Carbon Trust, who have produced several guides highlighting the advantages of using building controls and BEMS.

The Government seems to recognise that another audit is not what UK businesses really need. With this in mind it is aiming for a light touch on implementing ESOS, suggesting for example that those businesses which already have Display Energy Certificates might be deemed to be ESOS compliant. Or that data from other schemes such as the CRC (whose members are most likely to have to comply with the new rules) might be usefully applied to the ESOS programme.

The question is will energy efficiency be encouraged by another assessment scheme? It seems a little unlikely, given the number of requirements and voluntary benchmarking programmes that are already out there.

A growing number of large businesses are already focusing on energy use in their organisations, and successfully finding ways to reduce waste via their existing control systems. These are forward thinking managers who recognise that money saved on energy costs goes straight back to the bottom line. Another form to complete won’t drive energy efficiency, but the rising price of energy will.

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