Having pledged to join the ranks of countries to ratify the COP21 protocols, and having already signed into law the target to reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 57% relative to 1990 levels, the Government now finds itself facing a race against time to make some pretty substantial cuts to its emissions.
The #Build2Perform blog has featured several articles making the case for alternative methods of energy generation that are greener than our current crop of fossil fuelled power stations, but some of these are just less polluting, not pollution-free, and even wind turbines and solar panels aren’t 100% carbon neutral. They still need to be manufactured and assembled, then transported across the world and installed – all of which requires fossil fuels at present. There's also the problem of whole-life emissions: Even when installed, these technologies will require carbon-generating maintenance and spare parts from commissioning to de-commissioning, and then to be disposed of after their useful life is over.
|Maintaining and replacing renewable technology adds to its whole-life carbon footprint|
In reality, the best way to cut emissions isn’t to generate more clean energy, it’s to reduce our need for it in the first place. After all, the cleanest unit of power is one you don’t use. Industry loves infrastructure, so it’s not the most fashionable view, but it’s one that has been gathering pace because of one key advantage: Cost. Renewables may cut carbon, but we don't use less electricity, we just get it from a more responsible source. Efficiency measures cut use, boosting the bottom line. The fastest way to a businessman’s heart is through their wallet, and energy saving measures have the added bonus of requiring very little in the way of expensive extra equipment.
|Renewable energy can be inefficient even though it's clean, which is bad for the books|
|Large infrastructure projects like Swansea Tidal Lagoon|
are often preferred by politicians
ISO 50001 aims to put paid to that ‘fiddly’ stereotype that plagues energy efficiency, and make it the first choice technique for improving energy performance, including energy efficiency, use and consumption. This tackles one of the major weaknesses of efficiency as an energy policy against renewables, because it could often be difficult, uncertain and expensive to quantify the results – never a popular combination for businesses with an eye on their bottom line.
Instead, by using an energy management system approach, businesses can be confident in a systematic, quantifiable approach to improving energy performance.
It can also help to tackle one or more of many problems facing businesses in the coming years, whether that’s security of supply, rising bills, green credibility and compliance with Government targets. All this is put in place with constantly reviewed targets and measurable outcomes, including solutions to problems that are encountered, which remove the guesswork from the process.
It’s also very flexible – an energy management system requires a customised approach in order to be effective, and this means it is individually tailored to suit the behaviour and needs of a business. CIBSE Certification operate a register of individuals that they have assessed as competent to help organisations implement an energy management system and several of the ESOS Lead Assessors on their ESOS register have declared energy management systems as one of the areas of expertise.
|Kingspan implemented ISO 50001 as part of their plan to become net zero|
carbon by the year 2020
Wasted energy costs UK businesses upwards of £12bn a year, but by enabling facilities managers to make a solid and attractive business case for energy efficiency, energy management systems have opened up a whole new door to lower energy usage. With uptake of ISO 50001 expected to continue to grow rapidly, expect to see the ‘less is more’ approach gain significant traction as the results start to speak for themselves.