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Posts Tagged ‘Public Buildings’

Energy Efficient Buildings,Non-domestic building,Public Buildings

Energy efficiency policy for workplaces: quick wins for the next Government?

We all know that there is no single ‘magic policy bullet’ that will support the growth of a self-sustaining market for energy efficiency investments, and that a jigsaw of policy pieces is needed to build the necessary framework.

This is the first in a series of blogs looking at ACE’s new policy tracker, and it considers commercial buildings.  It asks, are all the jigsaw pieces in place?  What more can we do easily? And what is going to be a little more difficult?

Where we are now

The Committee on Climate Change identified a least-cost pathway to meeting the 5th carbon budget.  Our analysis of the gap between this and the Government’s projection of emissions given the current policy landscape, shows that – by 2030 – commercial buildings will be emitting 42% more carbon than the ideal, and public sector buildings 34% more.  And the excess energy use involved is costing businesses a lot of money: in London alone, businesses spend over £4 billion per year on gas and electricity; if they could reduce their energy use by a third, that would mean over £1.3 billion every year for these businesses to use on something more productive.

In policy terms, a quick look at the policy tracker clearly shows that we’re really not doing very well.  We don’t appear to have a vision for our commercial buildings, nor do we have an overall target for their energy efficiency.  And we’re not very good at celebrating the achievements of those companies that are working hard to improve their energy productivity.

We have no comprehensive and engaging tax incentives to encourage energy efficiency investments, and there is little action by government to encourage the development of attractive finance offerings.

On a more positive note, the minimum efficiency standards for offices in the Private Rented Sector will result in improvements to our worst commercial buildings, making them better workplaces and hence supporting happier and more productive workers.  We do have energy performance certificates to give organisations information about the premises they are buying or renting, although the requirement for these could be better enforced.  And, in the past, central and local government has taken the lead, through energy demand reduction targets and National Indicators on carbon emissions.

And finally the good(ish) news: products policy has driven up the minimum efficiency standards of widely used appliances, and ESOS has ensured that larger business at least have the tools to understand their energy use and the potential for improvement.  Both these success stories are potentially at risk during Brexit, but we can act to avoid this.

The quick wins

There are some politically and practically easy steps that government and business can and should take right now. The Clean Growth Plan needs to set a high level of ambition for our offices, offering a vision of healthy, comfortable workplaces that support increased productivity; setting a target for commercial buildings energy efficiency and a trajectory towards achieving that target.

The public sector needs to once again set an example: we need targets for energy efficiency in the sector, and public reporting on progress towards these.  Implementing this will help Government achieve the efficiency improvements that it is looking for from the sector without taking money away from public services.

We need a clear message from Government that existing minimum efficiency standards for products, and requirements for energy auditing, will be retained as we exit the EU; and indeed that these policies, which have reduced business energy bills, will be enhanced in the future.

And we as businesses should collaborate on schemes that recognise those companies that are taking a lead in managing their energy use and celebrate their success.

Next steps

Beyond these easy wins, there are other things that won’t be quite as straightforward, but which really do need to happen.

Our existing minimum energy performance requirements for new buildings should be strengthened – by reinstating the trajectory to zero carbon – and our requirements to report on the energy performance of all buildings better enforced.

The review of business energy efficiency taxation has simplified the system but we are still not at the point where all fuels for all users are taxed equitably according to their impact on the climate; and we need to complement the tax with a requirement for public reporting on energy performance for larger companies.

And Government needs to work with the finance sector to ensure that all businesses wishing to invest in energy efficiency (including SMEs) can access attractive finance offerings to support these investments.

If we get these things right, and if we work with the construction trades, we could begin to tap into the already significant market for building refurbishment to ensure that energy performance improvement is a core part of any refurbishment project.

Difficult to do, but we must work out how

Expanding the use of minimum energy performance standards in existing buildings seems to be very difficult politically, and yet business is quite able to deal with regulation in all sorts of areas, provided that it is given sufficient warning and helped to understand how best to respond.  So we should be looking at how we can widen these standards out from the Private Rented Sector and how we can strengthen them.

And we need to bring energy efficiency investments to the top of the pile for business decision-makers: tax incentives for businesses to invest in energy efficiency again seem to be something that Government is reluctant to think about and yet, without them, energy audit recommendations risk being nice projects that get left on the shelf when something more interesting comes along.

 

We’re really not doing that well at the moment, but surely it is time now for Government to act on some of the easy wins whilst working with us on plans for the next steps.  And we should not shy away from the more difficult steps  – the prize: more competitive businesses, a happier and healthier workforce, and greater energy resilience, is too important!

 

Do have a look at the details in our snapshop policy tracker and let us know what your view is.  And if you are interested in finding out more about why we think some policy changes are easier than others, have a look at Chapter 6 in our 2016 report on Buildings and the 5th Carbon Budget.

We look forward to policies developing over the coming months and we will be updating the tracker in response to these changes.

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DCLG,Display Energy Certificates,Eric Pickles,Public Buildings

Our response to CLG consultation on Display Energy Certificates (DECs)

ACE has responded to CLG’s consultation on ‘Display Energy Certificates: current regime and how it could be streamlined and improved‘. You can read our response here, and a summary of our response below.

When Display Energy Certificates (DECs) were first introduced, it was because CLG themselves identified that they were a) more appropriate for display in public buildings than Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and b) more cost-beneficial.

There is evidence referred to in the consultation itself, that DECs drive energy savings. There is also clear evidence from abroad, that regular operational ratings (of the kind contained in DECs) drive significant energy savings in the buildings in which they are used and displayed.

To remove schools and universities from the DEC regime totally contradicts the spirit of the recast Energy Performance of Buildings directive. Its intention is for DECs to apply to all buildings occupied by public authorities and also all buildings frequently visited by the public (the directive cites “shops and shopping centres, supermarkets, restaurants, theatres, banks and hotels” as examples). Schools and universities fall into both these categories, and the directive’s implication that they have to be included could not be clearer. Many more buildings should have been included as well, which is why the Government had intended in 2011 to extend DECs to the types of commercial buildings listed above.

The public sector should lead by example. The recast Energy Performance of Buildings directive states that “the public sector […] should lead the way in the field of energy performance of buildings” and “should set an example by showing that environmental and energy considerations are being taken into account and therefore those buildings should be subject to energy certification on a regular basis”. To remove or scale back the DEC regime would fly in the face of these requirements.

Recent analysis by University College London shows that 8,500 buildings with continual DECs over three years and larger than 1,000m2 achieved 3% annual energy savings in 2011 compared to 2009. In our estimation, this is roughly equivalent to £18m savings. If all 42,000 large buildings with DECs achieved the same saving, the total would be £89m. The total cost of the DECs regime is £7.8m, one eleventh of these savings. It is likely that DECs were a significant factor in starting these buildings on their energy management journey, which may well not have occurred in their absence. For every £1 saving on the DECs regime that CLG could achieve by abolishing it, the Department is putting at risk up to £11 of savings already achieved, and countless additional savings which an effective DECs regime would continue to drive. Furthermore, the savings calculated exclude the value of carbon savings achieved, employment and other spill-over benefits.

What CLG is proposing is to abolish (or severely truncate) a DEC regime which is proven to drive energy savings in public buildings and therefore make savings to the public purse. Far from freeing up resources for frontline services, abolishing DECs would at best reduce any energy cost savings being achieved and at worst enable the public sector to hide their wastefulness from the taxpayer and encourage profligacy. At a time of increasing pressure on public budgets and the need for more transparency to better account for public spending, the proposals to abolish or truncate a DEC regime which demonstrably saves far more money than it costs to run is plain stupidity.

The regime can be streamlined and improved, and a proper engagement and consultation exercise should be undertaken to find the best ways of doing so. As it stands, the current consultation, which has not even deigned to assess the benefits of the regime alongside its costs, is meaningless.

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DCLG,Display Energy Certificates,Eric Pickles,Public Buildings

Is Eric Pickles implementing a scorched earth policy ahead of the election?

Today, the Department for Communities and Local Government published a consultation which proposes to abolish Display Energy Certificates in England and Wales. DECs show actual energy consumption of public buildings on an A to G rating scale and need to be prominently displayed.  They are required annually for public buildings over 1,000m2, and every 10 years for buildings between 500m2 and 1,000m2. So far, 54,000 public buildings have them.

They raise public awareness of energy consumption in public buildings, make the sector more accountable for their energy consumption to tax-payers, and act as a driver and tool to reduce energy consumption in buildings and convince building owners to invest. The rating on a DEC can be improved by both energy efficiency works and by getting building users to cut back on unnecessary energy use (Energy Performance Certificates don’t register the latter). According to a study cited in the consultation itself, public buildings with DECs reduced their energy consumption by 2% more than their private sector counterparts between 2008 and 2009, just one year into their introduction. Little surprise that in 2011, David Cameron promised to extend the requirement for DECs to buildings in the commercial sector.

Despite this rollout to the private sector being supported by the CBI and the British Property Federation, Government reneged on that promise. Now they are proposing to row back to an extent that beggars belief. CLG says that abolishing DECs would save public authorities £760,000 each year.

When the Department of Energy and Climate Change moved into Whitehall Place, its DEC had a rating of G. That caught our attention – and the attention of countless others who visited the building.  The unflattering spotlight being shone on the Department will have played its part in stinging them into action and they’ve since improved their building’s energy consumption to a rating of C, saving £156,000 annually in the process. In one building (yes, a fairly large one). One building out of 54,000. Five such cases would exceed CLG’s savings estimate. The Government should make good on its original promise and extend DECs to the commercial sector, not abolish them. This staggering case of money-saving myopia must be stopped in its tracks.

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Climate Change,DECC,Energy Bills,Energy Company Obligation,Private Rented Sector,Public Buildings

Questions for DECC on proposals tabled 2.12.2013

In response to recent announcements regarding changes to energy efficiency policies (including this DECC press release), ACE have asked DECC to answer the following questions:

1.  On the announcement of a “Stamp duty rebate” for home-movers who install efficiency measures:

  • Is this really a stamp duty rebate (implying a return of money at some point after purchase for homeowners who can prove they have installed measures) or is it just a cashback by another name?  What will the delivery mechanism be?
  • Does this money come out of the existing £200m cashback pot, or does it come from somewhere else?  Is this Exchequer funding?
  • It is anticipated that 60,000 homes a year will be helped.  But what if a large number of homeowners opt to have more expensive measures installed?
  • If the share of the £450m allocated to this scheme runs out prior to April 2017, does this mean that the scheme will be closed?

2.  Help for private landlords:

  • The press release talks of a “scheme to support private landlords” and promises a share (unspecified) of £450m will be available to fund this.  However, the press release goes on to say that this scheme will  consist of “funding available through the Green Deal”.  It is therefore confusing as to whether this will be Government funding channelled through the Green Deal, or else some “tweaking” of Green Deal finance, or else some extension of the LESA scheme?
  • In an article in The Sun newspaper (1st December), Nick Clegg and David Cameron refer to “cash incentives to landlords of the least energy efficient properties”; the press release meanwhile talks of “helping landlords bring their properties up to minimum standards” – the implication of both of these statements is that the funding for landlords will only be available to landlords of F and G rated properties.  Can this be clarified/confirmed?
  • In the article in The Sun, Nick Clegg and David Cameron talk about the incentive being available to landlords “when they are between tenants” – will the incentive only be available during void periods?
  • Government is claiming this will deliver 1.8Mt of carbon savings .  If it is geared to existing F and G-rated homes,  surely all these savings must already be built into Government carbon estimates from the time the Energy Bill 2011 made it mandatory to outlaw F & G rated properties.  Therefore there will be no new carbon saved – it will just be a sweetener for landlords to get them to obey the law.
  • There are 440,000 F & G rated properties in the private rental sector. The new scheme will incentivise just 45,000 of them over three years,  e.g 10% of the total.  Can this be confirmed?

3. Spending breakdown:

  •  We’re told that there will be £450m of new investment for the two new measures above.  What is the breakdown of spending as between the two measures?

4. Carbon savings and public buildings:

  • What are the carbon savings associated with each of the above, and how much additional carbon saving is assumed to come from the £90m being allocated to schools, hospitals and other public buildings? What shape is deployment of this £90m – is it a grant? Or an extension of a finance mechanism (presumably Salix)?

 

We hope DECC will soon provide clarification on these important points.

 

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Display Energy Certificates,Energy Efficiency,Public Buildings

Display Energy Certificates expose Government attitudes to energy efficiency

ImageSince their introduction in October, DECS have revealed that many prominent public buildings are appallingly energy inefficient. What message is this sending to the British public?

Over recent months, the consistency of the political rhetoric about the importance of not wasting energy has been impressive. As have been the various reasons given to motivate us to action: ecological danger, financial prudence, social welfare, import reduction.

But, to be truly effective, all this high flown exhortation needs one key ingredient in order to succeed. We need unequivocal assurance: are our political leaders practising what they preach?

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Energy Efficiency,Public Buildings

Public sector carbon emissions

Amendment to Government Bill will mean more energy efficient public buildings

On Tuesday 28 October Martin Caton, the MP for Gower, succeeded in amending the Government’s Climate Change Bill to ensure more rapid progress towards improving the energy efficiency of public buildings.  This followed intense negotiations over preceding weeks with Ministers from the new Department for Energy and Climate Change.

The original version of Martin Caton’s amendment would have required all newly procured central Government buildings to be in the top quartile of energy performance.  The Government have made this commitment no fewer than three times over recent years – but a host of official reports have shown progress to be dismal.  Indeed in recent weeks the Houses of Parliament were discovered to have the lowest possible energy efficiency rating – a G – while the newly refurbished Treasury HQ managed to score only an E.

Despite this, the Government were immovable in their opposition to the original Caton amendment.  Under threat of a Labour rebellion, however, they agreed to support the new amendment, which requires Government to lay before Parliament an annual report on “progress towards ensuring that any new buildings procured for the civil estate are in the upper quartile of energy performance”.

While falling short of an absolute duty to take action, it clearly amounts to an implied duty, which is valuable.  At ACE’s insistence, the Government also agreed to some additional wording, which means they must now state the reasons, in each case, why any newly procured building is not in the top quartile.  This will clearly be a driver for improved energy efficiency, as the Government will be keen to avoid the embarrassment of reporting poor performance year after year.

ACE will be closely monitoring Government performance over the coming years – and we hope and expect to see big improvements in the energy performance of public buildings.

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Display Energy Certificates,Public Buildings

Display

‘European Municipal Buildings Climate Campaign’

(funded by Intelligent Energy – Europe)

The European Display® Campaign is a voluntary scheme designed by energy experts from 20 European towns and cities. It is aimed at encouraging local authorities to publicly display the energy and environmental performances of their public buildings using the same energy label that is used for household appliances.

The Research Team was involved on behalf of EuroACE, and led the task of identifying and preparing 100 so-called ‘Shining Examples’ – case studies of municipal buildings involved in the Campaign. There are now 105 Shining Examples published on the Campaign’s website.

This most recent phase of the Campaign, entitled ‘Towards Class A’, ran from January 2005 to December 2007. However, the Campaign will continue.

Reports

Visit www.display-campaign.org to find out more.

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Domestic Energy Consumption,Public Buildings

Local Authority Fuel Poverty Activities

A Review of English Local Authority Fuel Poverty Reports and Strategies

(funded by Eaga Charitable Trust)

The Research Team worked with Impetus Consulting on this project. The two teams reviewed and evaluated all Local Authority fuel poverty submissions (under their HECA obligations) along with any fuel poverty or affordable warmth strategies available at the time the research was undertaken. This review of activity on tackling fuel poverty was restricted to English Local Authorities. The issues addressed included:

  • The extent to which local authorities were engaging with the issues involved in tackling fuel poverty;
  • Whether there were areas in which good practice existed in isolated examples rather than generally (and hence there was a need for dissemination);
  • The extent to which ‘performance’ varied across local authorities (and thus the degree to which comparative feedback could be of assistance in encouraging more activity in this area); and
  • Whether ECAs were making significant progress to meeting local and national targets.

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