40% of UK construction firms don’t check energy use


Whether they’re aiming to reduce costs, meet legal targets or even create a greener image, a recent survey found that 68% of construction businesses agreed that energy saving was important for their firm. They also stated that they would be making energy targets a large part of their planning for 2015.

However, the independent market survey wasn’t all good news.

In contrast to the reassuring results on motivation, it found that 40% of construction businesses had not put in place any way of measuring their energy use and expenditure.

What’s more, 74% were not measuring the energy and carbon emissions of their main suppliers.

This survey puts the results of last year’s Green Construction Board report (pdf), which suggested that project-related carbon emissions had increased between 2008-2012, into context.

Why are firms not measuring their energy use?

There are several possible reasons why firms are being slow to measure their energy use and expenditure.

Financially, construction firms have found the economic downturn difficult. This year, there have been signs of recovery, so it might look like a better time to get a grip on carbon emissions.

Lack of information and business energy help  may be a further reason for the gap in knowledge. It can be difficult to know how to get started and where to get the information and tools you need.

However, as clients find themselves subject to environmental regulations, it will become more and more important for contractors to be able to prove their own green credentials. And this applies across industries; not just to construction.

What are the legal responsibilities?

ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) is the UK’s response to the EU agreement to cut carbon emissions by 20% by the year 2020.

Under ESOS, qualifying organisations are required to audit their energy use, identify cost-effective energy saving schemes and notify the Environment Agency of the changes they are going to be making by 5 December this year.

The important point is that, even if the legislation doesn’t apply to your organisation, it may apply to potential clients. They’ll want to know that companies tendering for work will help them to meet regulatory requirements.

In addition, the Construction 2025 target aims to lower the industry’s carbon emissions by 50% over the next 10 years, although it’s not a legal obligation.

How can you start measuring energy use?

There are several easy ways to start measuring energy usage on a regular basis.

To begin with, it makes sense to carry out an energy audit to see where your operations stand and where you can make savings. There are several expert advisors who will help you with this, including British Gas.

Alternatively you can do it yourself by looking closely at your energy bills and charting your energy usage over the last few months or years.

British Standard certification can also help. An ISO 50001 certification should help firms to cut costs and make them less susceptible to energy price changes. And in some cases, it may mean firms are considered automatically compliant with ESOS.

The ISO 50001 Standard also proves to potential clients and suppliers that an organization has sustainability commitments and policies in place to manage energy use.

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