Leading brands show the way

At this year’s Energy Event in September, the BCIA chaired a series of presentations. The excellent speakers there had many stories to tell about the challenges of energy efficiency in buildings, but one clear message came through: building controls are a major part of achieving lower energy costs and more efficient buildings.

Leading UK brands such as Alliance Boots and Tesco described their drive towards energy efficiency and carbon reduction. Andrew McMullen, Energy Performance Manager of Tesco Stores said that his organisation is aiming to: “Take energy consumption out of stores through an aggressive energy reduction programme.”

And Tim Snaith, Head of Energy and Engineering at Alliance Boots said that the company is spending £36 million a year on energy in the UK, but is also investing £5 million in its energy efficiency strategy.

Neither of these organisations is new to the idea of saving energy. Tesco began its drive in 2007. “We are still saving energy even after seven years. Our aim is reduction of energy use before generation,” said McMullen.

As retailers, Tesco and Boots have both put the power and responsibility for energy efficiency into the hands of store managers. Both emphasised the need for information, through extensive metering. But this information needs to be presented to those who manage the buildings in a usable way that can be understood by non-engineers. As Tim Snaith said in his presentation: “We do not give store managers energy information in kilowatt hours, or tonnes of carbon, but in terms of money.”

The ability of controls to capture information and make credible changes with little or no loss in performance is central to how these big corporates are dealing with the challenge of reducing their energy use. At Boots, two years ago store managers would not have known how much energy their outlet was using. Now these managers are looking at energy using league tables across the company, and wanting to find ways to make their stores more efficient.

Anyone who thinks that energy saving is simply part of the corporate social responsibility campaign of big brands should think again. UK retailers are very focused on their margins and their bottom line. When companies like this can make savings of up to £1 million a year, then it is time that all businesses paid attention to the benefits of understanding their energy consumption – and actively controlling it.

BCIA will be exhibiting on stand E1 at Building Controls Sandown Park

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