2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 3 to 5 – The ESOS Assessment

Digital electric meters in a row measuring power use. Electricity consumption concept.

ESOS operates in tandem with the ISO 50001 (Energy Management) system that encourages continual improvement in the efficient use of energy. Any UK enterprise qualifying for ESOS that has current ISO 50001 certification on the compliance date by an approved body (and that covers the entire UK corporate group) may present this as evidence of having completed its ESOS assessment. It does however still require board-level certification, following which it must notify the Environment Agency accordingly.

The Alternate ESOS Route

In the absence of an ISO 50001 energy management certificate addressing comprehensive energy use, a qualifying UK enterprise must:

  1. Measure Total Energy Consumption in either kWh or energy spend in pounds sterling, and across the entire operation including buildings, industrial processes and transport.
  2. Identify Areas of Significant Energy Consumption that account for at least 90% of the total. The balance falls into a de minimis group that is officially too trivial to merit consideration.
  1. Consider Available Routes to Compliance. These could include ISO 500001 part-certification, display energy certificates, green deal assessments, ESOS compliant energy audits, self-audits and independent assessments
  1. Do an Internal Review to make sure that you have covered every area of significant consumption. This is an important strategic step to avoid the possibility of failing to comply completely.
  1. Appoint an Approved Lead Assessor who may be internal or external to your enterprise, but must have ESOS approval. This person confirms you have met all ESOS requirements (unless you have no de minimis exceptions).
  1. Obtain Internal Certification by one of more board-level directors. They must certify they are satisfied with the veracity of the reports. They must also confirm that the enterprise is compliant with the scheme.
  1. Notify the Environment Agency of Compliance within the deadline using the online notification system as soon as the enterprise believes is fully compliant.
  1. Assemble your ESOS Evidential Pack and back it up in a safe place. Remember, it is your responsibility to provide proof of the above. Unearthing evidence a year later it not something to look forward to.

The ESOS assessment process is largely self-regulatory, although there are checks and balances in place including lead assessor and board-level certifications. As you work through what may seem to be a nuisance remember the primary objectives. These are saving money and reducing carbon emissions. Contact ecoVaro if we can assist in any way.

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Monitoring Water Banks with Telemetrics

River Lot in France

Longstanding droughts across South Australia are forcing farmers to rethink the moisture in the soil they once regarded as their inalienable right. Trend monitoring is an essential input to applying pesticides and fertilisers in balanced ratios. Soil moisture sensors are transmitting data to central points for onward processing on a cloud, and this is making a positive difference to agricultural output.

Peter Buss, co-founder of Sentek Technology calls ground moisture a water bank and manufactures ground sensors to interrogate it. His hometown of Adelaide is in one of the driest states in Australia. This makes monitoring soil water even more critical, if agriculture is to continue. Sentek has been helping farmers deliver optimum amounts of water since 1992.

The analogy of a water bank is interesting. Agriculturists must ‘bank’ water for less-than-rainy days instead of squeezing the last drop. They need a stream of online data and a safe place somewhere in the cloud to curate it. Sentek is in the lead in places as remote as Peru’s Atacamba desert and the mountains of Mongolia, where it supports sustainable floriculture, forestry, horticulture, pastures, row crops and viticulture through precise delivery of scarce water.

This relies on precision measurement using a variety of drill and drop probes with sensors fixed at 4” / 10cm increments along multiples of 12” / 30cm up to 4 times. These probe soil moisture, soil temperature and soil salinity, and are readily re-positioned to other locations as crops rotate.

Peter Buss is convinced that measurement is a means to the end and only the beginning. ‘Too often, growers start watering when plants don’t really need it, wasting water, energy, and labour. By monitoring that need accurately, that water can be saved until later when the plant really needs it.’ He goes on to add that the crop is the ultimate sensor, and that ‘we should ask the plant what it needs’.

This takes the debate a stage further. Water wise farmers should plant water-wise crops, not try to close the stable door after the horse has bolted and dry years return. The South Australia government thinks the answer also lies in correct farm dam management. It wants farmers to build ones that allow sufficient water to bypass in order to sustain the natural environment too.

There is more to water management than squeezing the last drop. Soil moisture goes beyond measuring for profit. It is about farming sustainably using data from sensors to guide us. ecoVaro is ahead of the curve as we explore imaginative ways to exploit the data these provide for the common good of all.

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2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 6 – Role of Lead Assessor

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The primary role of the lead assessor is to make sure the enterprise’s assessment meets ESOS requirements. Their contribution is mandatory, with the only exception being where 100% of energy consumption received attention in an ISO 50001 that forms the basis of the ESOS report.

How to Find a Lead Assessor

An enterprise subject to ESOS must negotiate with a lead assessor with the necessary specialisms from one of the panels approved by the UK government. This can be a person within the organisation or an third party. If independent, then only one director of the enterprise need countersign the assessment report. If an employee, then two signatures are necessary. Before reaching a decision, consider

  • Whether the person has auditing experience in the sector
  • Whether they are familiar with the technology and the processes
  • Whether they have experience of auditing against a standard

The choice rests on the enterprise itself. The lead assessor performs the appointed role.

The Lead Assessor’s Role

The Lead Assessor’s main job is reviewing an ESOS assessment prepared by others against the standard, and deciding whether it meets the requirements. They may also contribute towards it. Typically their role includes:

  • Checking the calculation for total energy consumption across the entire enterprise
  • Reviewing the process whereby the 90% areas of significant consumption were identified
  • Confirming that certifications are in place for all alternate routes to compliance chosen
  • Checking that the audit reports meet the minimum criteria laid down by the ESOS system

Note: A lead assessor may partly prepare the assessment themselves, or simply verify that others did it correctly.

In the former instance a lead assessor might

  • Determine energy use profiles
  • Identify savings opportunities
  • Calculate savings measures
  • Present audit findings
  • Determine future methodology
  • Define sampling methods
  • Develop audit timetables
  • Establish site visit programs
  • Assemble ESOS information pack

Core Enterprise Responsibilities

The enterprise cannot absolve itself from responsibility for good governance. Accordingly, it remains liable for

  • Ensuring compliance with ESOS requirements
  • Selecting and appointing the lead assessor
  • Drawing attention to previous audit work
  • Agreeing with what the lead assessor does
  • Requesting directors to sign the assessment

The Environment Agency does not provide assessment templates as it believes this reduces the administrative burden on the enterprises it serves.

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2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 1 – Who Qualifies

electronic cable plug with green mint and flowers on blue background. Friendly green living. Earth

The base criteria are any UK undertaking that employs more than 250 people and/or has a turnover in excess of €50 million and/or has a balance sheet total greater than €43 million. There is little point in attempting to separate off high polluting areas. If one corporate group qualifies for ESOS, then all the others are obligated to take part too. The sterling equivalents of £38,937,777 and £33,486,489 were set on 31 December 2014 and apply to the first compliance period.

Representatives of Overseas Entities

UK registered branches of foreign entities are treated as if fully UK owned. They also have to sign up if any overseas corporate element meets the threshold no matter where in the world. The deciding factor is common ownership throughout the ESOS system. ecoVaro appreciates this. We have seen European companies dumping pollution in under-regulated countries for far too long.

Generic Undertakings that Could Comply

The common factor is energy consumption and the organisation’s type of work is irrelevant. The Environmental Agency has provided the following generic checklist of undertakings that could qualify:

Limited CompaniesPublic CompaniesTrusts
PartnershipsPrivate Equity CompaniesLimited Liability Partnerships
Unincorporated AssociationsNot-for-Profit BodiesUniversities (Per Funding)

Organisations Close to Thresholds

Organisations that come close to, but do not quite meet the qualification threshold should cast their minds back to previous accounting periods, because ESOS considers current and previous years. The exact wording in the regulations states:

“Where, in any accounting period, an undertaking is a large undertaking (or a small or medium undertaking, as the case may be), it retains that status until it falls within the definition of a small or medium undertaking (or a large undertaking, as the case may be) for two consecutive accounting periods.”

Considering the £50,000 penalty for not completing an assessment or making a false or misleading statement, it makes good sense for close misses to comply.

Joint Ventures and Participative Undertakings

If one element of a UK group qualifies for ESOS, then the others must follow suit with the highest one carrying responsibility. Franchisees are independent undertakings although they may collectively agree to participate. If trusts receive energy from a third party that must do an ESOS, then so must they. Private equity firms and private finance initiatives receive the same treatment as other enterprises. De-aggregations must be in writing following which separated ESOS accountability applies.

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What ISO 14001 Status did for Cummins Inc.

Loan officers are signing approving funds to buy houses.

Cummins manufactures engines and power generation products, and has been a household name almost since inception in 1919. It sells its products in over 300 countries, through approximately 6,000 dealerships employing 40,000 people. Because its product line runs off fossil fuel it is under steady pressure to display a cleaner carbon footprint.

Cummins decided to go for the big one by qualifying for ISO 14001 certification. This is a subset of a family of standards relating to managing environmental impact while complying with all applicable legislation. In this sense, it is similar to the ISO 9000 quality management system, because it focuses on how products are produced (as opposed to how those products perform). Compliance with ISO 14001 was a doubly important goal, because it is part of the European Union’s Eco Management and Audit Scheme and fast becoming mandatory on suppliers to governments.

The qualification process follows the well-established principle of plan, do, check, act. It begins with gap analysis to detect materials and processes that affect the environment. This is followed by implementation of necessary changes affecting operations, documentation, emergency strategies and employee education. The third step involves measuring and monitoring performance. Finally, the project moves into a phase of ongoing maintenance, and continuous improvement as circumstances change.

In Cummins case, the project was almost worldwide and called for environmental, health and safety reporting throughout the organisation. The information was shared via a globally accessible document repository, and then processed centrally at the head office in Columbia, Indiana USA.

Measuring environmental performance almost inevitably has other benefits that make it doubly worthwhile. Speaking at the 2014 National Safety Council Congress after receiving the top award for excellence, Cummins chairman and ceo Tom Linebarger commented on a journey that was ‘nothing short of amazing’ yet wasn’t even a ‘pathway to the finish line’.

‘All of us feel like we have way more to do to make sure that our environment is as safe as it could be,’ he added, ‘so that our sustainability footprint is as good as it can be and that we continue to set more aggressive goals every year. That’s just how we think about it.’ Linebarger concluded.

If you are taking your company on a journey to new heights of environmental excellence, then you should consider choosing ecoVaro as your travelling companion. We are environmental management specialists and have proprietary software geared to process your data. We also have a wealth of experience, and a treasure chest of roadmaps to help you achieve your goal.

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Saving Energy Step 3 – Towards a Variable Energy Bill

Natural gas burner flame on stove

Do you remember the days when energy was so cheap we paid the bill almost without thinking about it? Things have changed and we have the additional duty of reducing consumption to help save the planet. This is the third article in our mini-series on saving energy. It follows on from the first that explored implementing a management system, and the second listing practical things to implement on the shop floor. These open up the possibility of the variable energy bill we expand on as follows.

If ‘variable energy bill’ sounds strange to you, I used the unusual turn of phrase to encourage you to view things in a different light. We need to move on from the ‘pie chart’ mentality where we focus on the biggest numbers like materials, facilities and labour, and zoom in on energy where we can achieve similar gains faster with less pain. But first, we need to see beyond the jargon that governments and consultants love, and get to grips with the reality that we can vary our energy bill and bring cost down.

As executives we recognise this, although other pressures distract us from accepting it as a personal goal. And so we delegate it down the organisation to a level where it becomes ‘another crazy management idea’ we have to follow to stay out of trouble. I read somewhere that half the world’s organisations do not have energy as a defined objective to monitor in the C Suite. No wonder commerce is only pecking away at energy wastage at a rate of 1% per year.

Find out where you are ‘spending energy’ and relate this to your core business. If there are places where you are unable to make a connection, challenge the activity’s right to exist. Following the energy trail produces unexpected benefits because it permeates everything we do.

  • Improved product design reducing time spent in factory
  • Streamlined production schedules reducing machine run times
  • Less wear on equipment reducing costly maintenance
  • A more motivated workforce that is prouder of ‘what we do’

As you achieve energy savings you can pass these on in terms of lower prices and greater market share. All this and more is possible when you focus on the variables behind your energy bill. Run the numbers. It deserves more attention than it often gets.

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Saving Energy Step 2 – More Practical Ideas

Collection of light bulbs

In my previous blog, we wrote about implementing a management system. This boils down to sharing a common vision up and down and across the organisation, measuring progress, and pinning accountability on individuals. This time, we would like to talk about simple things that organisations can do to shrink their carbon footprints. But first let’s talk about the things that hold us back.

When we take on new clients we sometimes find that they are baffled by what I call energy industry-speak. We blame this partly on government. We understand they need clear definitions in their regulations. It’s just a pity they don’t use ordinary English when they put their ideas across in public forums.

Consultants sometimes seem to take advantage of these terms, when they roll words like audit, assessment, diagnostic, examination, survey and review across their pages. Dare we suggest they are trying to confuse with jargon? We created ecoVaro to demystify the energy business. Our goal is to convert data into formats business people understand. As promised, here are five easy things your staff could do without even going off on training.

  1. Right-size equipment– outsource peak production in busy periods, rather than wasting energy on a system that is running at half capacity mostly.
  2. Re-Install equipment to OEM specifications – individual pieces of equipment need accurate interfacing with larger systems, to ensure that every ounce of energy delivers on its promise.
  3. Maintain to specification – make sure machine tools are within limits, and that equipment is well-lubricated, optimally adjusted and running smoothly.
  4. Adjust HVAC to demand – Engineers design heating and ventilation systems to cope with maximum requirements, and not all are set up to adapt to quieter periods. Try turning off a few units and see what happens.
  5. Recover Heat – Heat around machines is energy wasted. Find creative ways to recycle it. If you can’t, then insulate the equipment from the rest of the work space, and spend less money cooling the place down.

Well that wasn’t rocket science, was it? There are many more things that we can do to streamline energy use, and coax our profits up. This is as true in a factory as in the office and at home. The power we use is largely non-renewable. Small savings help, and banknotes pile up quickly.

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Using Pull Systems to Optimise Work Flows in Call Centres

People working in call center

When call centres emerged towards the end of the 20th century, they deserved their name ‘the sweatshops of the nineties’. A new brand of low-paid workers crammed into tiny cubicles to interact with consumers who were still trying to understand the system. Supervisors followed ‘scientific management’ principles aimed at maximising call-agent activity. When there was sudden surge in incoming calls, systems and customer care fell over.

The flow is nowadays in the opposite direction. Systems borrowed from manufacturing like Kanban, Pull, and Levelling are in place enabling a more customer-oriented approach. In this short article, our focus is on Pull Systems. We discuss what are they, and how they can make modern call centres even better for both sets of stakeholders.

Pull Systems from a Manufacturing Perspective

Manufacturing has traditionally been push-based. Sums are done, demand predicted, raw materials ordered and the machines turned on. Manufacturers send out representatives to obtain orders and push out stock. If the sums turn out wrong inventories rise, and stock holding costs increase. The consumer is on the receiving end again and the accountant is irritable all day long.

Just-in-time thinking has evolved a pull-based approach to manufacturing. This limits inventories to anticipated demand in the time it takes to manufacture more, plus a cushion as a trigger. When the cushion is gone, demand-pull spurs the factory into action. This approach brings us closer to only making what we can sell. The consumer benefits from a lower price and the accountant smiles again.

Are Pull Systems Possible in Dual Call Centres

There are many comments in the public domain regarding the practicality of using lean pull systems to regulate call centre workflow. Critics point to the practical impossibility of limiting the number of incoming callers. They believe a call centre must answer all inbound calls within a target period, or lose its clients to the competition.

In this world-view customers are often the losers. At peak times, operators can seem keen to shrug them off with canned answers. When things are quiet, they languidly explain things to keep their occupancy levels high. But this is not the end of the discussion, because modern call centres do more than just take inbound calls.

Using the Pull System Approach in Dual Call Centres

Most call centre support-desks originally focused are handling technical queries on behalf of a number of clients. When these clients’ customers called in, their staff used operator’s guides to help them answer specific queries. Financial models determined staffing levels and the number of ‘man-hours’ available daily. Using a manufacturing analogy, they used a push-approach to decide the amount of effort they were going to put out, and that is where they planted their standard.

Since these early 1990 days, advanced telephony on the internet has empowered call centres to provide additional remote services in any country with these networks. They have added sales and marketing to their business models, and increased their revenue through commissions. They have control over activity levels in this part of their business. They have the power to decide how many calls they are going to make, and within reason when they are going to make them.

This dichotomy of being passive regarding incoming traffic on the one hand, and having active control over outgoing calls on the other, opens up the possibility of a partly pull-based lean approach to call centre operation. In this model, a switching mechanism moves dual trained operators between call centre duties and marketing activities, as required by the volume of call centre traffic, thus making a pull system viable in dual call centres.

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How DevOps oils the Value Chain

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DevOps – a clipped compound of development and operations – is a way of working whereby software developers are in a team with project beneficiaries. A client centred approach extends the project plan to include the life cycle of the product or service, for which the software is developed.

We can then no longer speak of a software project for say Joe’s Accounting App. The software has no intrinsic value of its own. It follows that the software engineers are building an accounting app product. This is a small, crucially important distinction, because they are no longer in a silo with different business interests.

To take the analogy further, the developers are no longer contractors possibly trying to stretch out the process. They are members of Joe’s accounting company, and they are just as keen to get to market fast as Joe is to start earning income. DevOps uses this synergy to achieve the overarching business goal.

A Brief Introduction to OpsDev

You can skip this section if you already read this article. If not then you need to know that DevOps is a culture, not a working method. The three ‘members’ are the software developers, the beneficiaries, and a quality control mechanism. The developers break their task into smaller chunks instead of releasing the code to quality control as a single batch. As a result, the review process happens contiguously along these simplified lines.

CodeQCTest   
 CodeQCTest  
  CodeQCTest 
   CodeQCTest
Colour KeyDevelopersQuality ControlBeneficiary

This is a marked improvement over the previously cumbersome method below.

 

Write the Code Test the Code Use the Code
 Evaluate, Schedule for Next Review 

Working quickly and releasing smaller amounts of code means the OpsDev team learns quickly from mistakes, and should come to product release ahead of any competitor using the older, more linear method. The shared method of working releases huge resources in terms of user experience and in-line QC practices. Instead of being in a silo working on its own, development finds it has a richer brief and more support from being ‘on the same side of the organisation’.

The Key Role that Application Program Interfaces Play

Application Program Interfaces, or API’s for short, are building blocks for software applications. Using proprietary software-bridges speeds this process up. A good example would be the PayPal applications that we find on so many websites today. API’s are not just for commercial sites, and they can reduce costs and improve efficiency considerably.

The following diagram courtesy of TIBCO illustrates how second-party applications integrate with PayPal architecture via an API façade.

Working quickly and releasing smaller amounts of code means the OpsDev team learns quickly from mistakes, and should come to product release ahead of any competitor using the older, more linear method. The shared method of working releases huge resources in terms of user experience and in-line QC practices. Instead of being in a silo working on its own, development finds it has a richer brief and more support from being ‘on the same side of the organisation’.

imgd2.jpg

The DevOps Revolution Continues …

We close with some important insights from an interview with Jim Stoneham. He was general manager of the Yahoo Communities business unit, at the time Flickr became a part. “Flickr was a codebase,” Jim recalls, “that evolved to operate at high scale over 7 years – and continuing to scale while adding and refining features was no small challenge. During this transition, it was a huge advantage that there was such an integrated dev and ops team”

The ‘maturity model’ as engineers refer to DevOps status currently, enables developers to learn faster, and deploy upgrades ahead of their competitors. This means the client reaches and exceeds break-even sooner. DevOps lubricates the value chain so companies add value to a product faster. One reason it worked so well with Flickr, was the immense trust between Dev and Ops, and that is a lesson we should learn.

“We transformed from a team of employees to a team of owners. When you move at that speed, and are looking at the numbers and the results daily, your investment level radically changes. This just can’t happen in teams that release quarterly, and it’s difficult even with monthly cycles.” (Jim Stoneham)

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Why DevOps Matters: Things You Need to Know

Students discussing project

DevOps creates an agile relationship between system development and operating departments, so the two collaborate in providing results that are technically effective, and work well for customers and users. This is an improvement over the traditional model where development delivers a complete design – and then spends weeks and even months afterwards, fixing client side problems that should never have occurred.
Writing for Tech Radar Nigel Wilson explains why it is important to roll out innovation quickly to leverage advantage. This implies the need for a flexible organisation capable of thinking on its feet and forming matrix-based project teams to ensure that development is reliable and cost effective.
Skirmishes in Boardrooms
This cooperative approach runs counter to traditional silo thinking, where Operations does not understand Development, while Development treats the former as problem children. This is a natural outcome of team-centred psychology. It is also the reason why different functions pull up drawbridges at the entrance to their silos. This situation needs managing before it corrodes organization effectiveness. DevOps aims to cut through this spider web of conflict and produce faster results.

The Seeds of Collaboration

Social and personal relationships work best when the strengths of each party compensate the deficiencies of the other. In the case of development and operations, development lacks full understanding of the daily practicalities operating staff face. Conversely, operations lacks – and should lack knowledge of the nuances of digital automation, for the very reason it is not their business.
DevOps straddles the gap between these silos by building bridges towards a co-operative way of thinking, in which matrix-teams work together to define a problem, translate it into needs and spec the system to resolve these. It is more a culture than a method. Behavioural change naturally leads to contiguous delivery and ongoing deployment. Needless to say only the very best need apply for the roles of client representative, functional tester and developer lead.

Is DevOps Worth the Pain of Change?

Breaking down silos encroaches on individual managers’ turf. We should only automate to improve quality and save money. These savings often distil into organisational change. The matrix team may find itself in the middle of a catfight. Despite the pain associated with change resistance, DevOps more than pays its way in terms of benefits gained. We close by considering what these advantages are.

An Agile Matrix Structure – Technical innovation is happening at a blistering rate. The IT industry can no longer afford to churn out inferior designs that take longer to fix than to create. We cannot afford to allow office politics to stand in the way of progress. Silos and team builds are custodians of routine and that does not sit well with development.

An Integrated Organization – DevOps not only delivers operational systems faster through contiguous testing. It also creates an environment whereby cross-border teams work together towards achieving a shared objective. When development understands the challenges that operations faces – and operations understands the technical limiters – a new perspective emerges of ‘we are in this together’.

The Final Word – With understanding of human dynamics pocketed, a DevOps project may be easier to commission than you first think. The traditional way of doing development – and the waterfall delivery at the end is akin to a two-phase production line, in which liaison is the weakest link and loss of quality inevitable.

DevOps avoids this risk by having parties work side-by-side. We need them both to produce the desired results. This is least until robotics takes over and there is no longer a human element in play.

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