Six ways to get the most out of your ESOS audit

Published 14th April 2016 by Lucy Haines

The ESOS deadline was a while ago now – Christmas and Easter have passed and spring has started. Like most companies, you’ve probably been focussing on budgets since then, and ESOS came just too late to have an impact on 2016 budget decisions. Your ESOS audit may have spent the last three months filed away, with a good intention to start implementing recommendations. Maybe you just haven’t got round to it yet.

Most ESOS audits identified substantial savings. This means it is key to get the most of the audits now and start acting on them.

Here are six steps you can take today:

  1. Read the report and make sure you understand it

The ESOS deadline crept up on most participants and due to the shortage of ESOS lead assessors, there were lots of sign-off meetings in the weeks before the deadline – nearly 70% of submissions received by the Environment Agency (EA) in time for the 5th December were completed in the last two weeks. This means that although you’ll have read through your report and recommendations, you may not have had time to fully appreciate the benefits or the implications of what has been suggested.

And there are other things to think about as one legislation deadline passes, another one – whether it be EU ETS by the end of March or CRC energy efficiency scheme by the end of July – takes its place. You’re also likely to have had your budgets for financial year end to focus on. 

So now is the time to re-read the report and make sure you fully understand it. Contact your Lead Assessor if there’s anything you’re not sure about or if you need further information on a measure you’d like to pursue.

  1. Discuss it

Once you’ve re-read it, make sure it then doesn’t go back to being hidden. It’s likely that a wide range of people will have been involved in the ESOS process including site managers, facilities managers, accounts, HR, company directors…the list goes on. There’s likely to be recommendations for all these areas, they’ll also want to know what all their hard work contributed towards.

Discuss the report and outcomes widely – are there any surprises? It’s likely that the audit will have turned up some interesting things to consider such as the grey fleet, the way data is held and managed, and savings for sites – even if your colleagues think they’ve got everything covered.

  1. Expand it

ESOS is generally a good starting point for identifying energy efficiencies. It helps identify where the main savings are likely to be and where settings or behaviours can be changed to achieve savings. However, many ESOS audits will have been done within tight timeframes and to a minimal scope, with the primary aim of enabling compliance with ESOS. Therefore, for anyone keen to continue with some of the more significant recommendations, there is more work to be done in order to build the business case and identify opportunities throughout the estate.

ESOS allows for a sample of buildings to be audited and savings to be extrapolated. Dependant on how this was done and which buildings were initially chosen, it is likely to be a good idea for other buildings in the portfolio to be audited to identify additional measures and get a better idea of how the energy costs and savings are likely to vary.

If you have a small portfolio, particularly of manufacturing sites, more targeted audits could be carried out, focussing on key pieces of equipment.

In order to build a business case, you may require Investment Grade Audits that will look at each of the measures and their interactive effects in more depth and provide more robust calculations of costs and savings.

Many sites had a recommendation for smart and/or sub-metering. If this is the case, several assumptions will have had to go into your audit. However, implementing this measure first will enable a clearer picture of your site’s energy usage and greater clarity of areas to be improved.

  1. Learn from it and Action it

No one is perfect and it is likely that most companies will have very simple things that can make a big difference to their business. Carbon Clear’s ESOS experience with our clients repeatedly found that:

  • Sorting out how data is collected and stored will make it a lot easier for tracking energy consumption and identifying issues
  • Grey fleet might have been a whole area that wasn’t considered before that will make a difference to your business costs and the way you record mileage
  • Altering settings to heating and cooling will improve comfort, as well as saving energy
  • Simple behaviour changes could be made to reduce baseload

In order to access most of the savings, measures will need to be implemented, such as replacing lamps with LED alternatives or installing pipework insulation or boiler controls – just having a report with the recommendations isn’t enough to provide value.

ISO 50001 was also identified as a key recommendation from most ESOS reports. Implementing this will enable a more rational approach to energy management and identifying energy savings, as well as ensuring management involvement in the process and awareness of recommendations.

  1. Evaluate it

After your ESOS recommendations have been implemented, whether management systems, procedures, capital investment, behavioural or otherwise, it is vital that these are continued into the future and are maintained or improved in years to come.

This means putting checks in place to make sure the temperature settings aren’t creeping back-up, bills are still being evaluated and LEDs are still being bought as a matter of course, for example.

This way you can be sure that you are getting the most out of your ESOS audits and that you will still be achieving savings going forwards.

  1. Get Ahead

Although there will be changes to the energy landscape between now and the next deadline in 2019, ESOS is seen as being the key framework for future energy compliance schemes. Sorting out data systems now will make it much easier to provide and understand the baseline data when required.

The earlier the auditing process begins, the more benefit gained from implementing the measures, particularly if you use sites that were not audited in the first phase of ESOS. In addition, the shortage of lead assessors and tight timeframes in the last compliance period meant that companies beginning the ESOS process in the last few months were likely to have been charged substantially more for their audits. This means that starting the audits earlier will provide material cost savings for your business.

As ISO 50001 enables compliance with ESOS legislation, now is a good time to start thinking about implementing and working towards compliance. This will give you time to get used to the requirements and framework to ensure issues are resolved before certification is required. It should also be relatively fresh in people’s minds rather than attempting to pick it up again in a few years’ time and trying to rush compliance. 

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