Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS): An Overview

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Energy management is crucial to most businesses in the UK. This is primarily because energy usage substantially affects all organizations, whether large or small. The good news is that, energy costs can be controlled through improved energy efficiency. And this is exactly why Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) came into being – to promote competitiveness among businesses.

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is the realisation of the UK Government’s ambition towards achieving the maximum potential of cost-effective energy in the economy. ESOS aims to stimulate innovation and growth, cut emissions and support a sustainable energy system.

ESOS at a Glance – Legal Perspective

The EU Energy Efficiency Directive took a major step forward on November 14, 2012 and headed towards establishing a framework to promote energy efficiency across various economic sectors. To interpret Article 8 of the Directive, the government has given birth to ESOS; requiring large enterprises to undergo mandatory energy audits and energy management systems by December 5, 2015 and at least every 4 years thereafter.

Large enterprises include UK companies that have more than 250 employees or those businesses whose annual turnover exceeds £50 million and whose statement of financial position totals more than £43 million. With this, over 7000 of the biggest companies in Britain will need to comply with ESOS as an approach to review their total energy use in buildings, business operations, transport and industrial processes.

Generally, ESOS is both an obligation and an opportunity. It is an obligation for the indicated target companies since they need to submit to additional regimes; focus on audit evidences; act in accordance to group structures and compliance; and observe limited penalties and note retention periods. Moreover, it is also an opportunity for companies to strive for more savings on energy projects; attempt to standardise their potential market; and effectively lower debt and legal costs.

ESOS Audits – Looking Beyond

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), average first audit costs would be estimated at about £17,000 and subsequent ones at around £10,000. As expected, these audits will result in energy saving recommendations, of which companies need not proceed for a follow up; and substantially improve businesses in their energy management issues. DECC further states that every business that complies with ESOS could save an average of £56,400 each year from an initial investment of £17,000 only.

Currently, up to 6,000 UK businesses are already subject to existing CRC Carbon Reduction Scheme, Mandatory Carbon Reporting, Climate Change Levy and other compliance. This signifies that ESOS may overlap with prevailing energy efficiency legislation and may put additional pressure on energy administration. While this is true, however, ESOS holds extensive benefits. Although the scheme can be viewed as another costly compliance to environmental standards, ESOS goes straight to the bottom line and provides the organisation with competitive advantage. If large businesses act now and comply with it, they will be able to enjoy maximised payback in the long run.

Indeed, Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is already here. It is mandatory with minimal investment. And all you have to do is act quickly, implement new improvements and earn more.

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Benefits of Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

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More than just building energy, improving skills and undertaking audits, Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme works beyond. ESOS adheres to policy coherence, provides information to raise awareness, facilitates energy efficiency market and encourages adoption of appropriate energy efficiency measures.

Generally, ESOS is great for energy professionals and businesses. And in the current situation of UK’s energy industry, this new scheme is a substantial help. The key is to know the benefits that ESOS provides, understand how it can affect you, learn how to maximise its potential and make a big difference. Here’s to explore the highlights of ESOS.

Who benefits from ESOS?

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme covers non-SME enterprises which includes UK businesses having more than 250 employees; even those with employees fewer than 250 but have annual turnover of more than £50m and balance sheet exceeding £43m; or those professionals that belong to a large enterprise. This is in accordance with what Article 8 of the EU Derivative provides.

What are the benefits of ESOS?

ESOS provides opportunities to enhance an organisation’s energy efficiency strategy, of which the benefits include:

Economic Growth and Competitiveness

The implementation of energy efficient measures increases local employment in the labour markets. Consequently, this taps the labour potential and drives economic growth.  In a lower carbon economy, businesses need to develop green projects to maintain economic competitiveness as well. ESOS is strategic approach initiated by the UK government to push technological innovation and energy investments.

Cost Savings and Emission Reductions

ESOS is flexible in such a way that it combines energy policies and innovations tailored to every organisation’s need. The energy efficiency measures taken, resulting from the scheme, quickly cuts down both carbon emissions and energy bills at cheapest possible ways.

Managing Energy Demand

ESOS provides energy security to UK by reducing the energy consumption of enterprises. With this, the economy would be more efficient and less exposed to international energy market volatility. Also, this will lead to more savings from less future investment in energy infrastructure.

Getting your Management Performance Noticed

If you are an energy professional, you will benefit from ESOS by exploiting it  to boost your charisma towards the company directors. You can show them how the scheme works and how it can save your company substantial costs. Managing energy with ESOS can help an organisation grow. Nevertheless, you are the key person designated to get the project done and achieve success.

How can ESOS make a difference?

More than anything else, ESOS can make a huge change. True to its name, it provides large enterprises the opportunity to manage energy wisely, reduce overhead costs and promote responsible corporate energy consumption.

The International Energy Agency said that investing in energy efficiency leads to growth, additional jobs, competent budgets on public spending and enhanced industry productivity. If you are an energy and environment professional or a non-SME business entity, you hold the impulse to act. Aside from all those excellent business benefits that you get to enjoy, you will be able to contribute a portion towards achieving UK’s national carbon target of 80% in CO2 by 2050.

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Recognizing Your Carbon Footprint

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Countless times we have heard of the term “carbon footprint”. Perhaps we have seen and heard it on TV or read it in newspapers, magazines and published articles. Indeed, it has been an expression familiar to everyone as it is always associated with climate change, carbon emissions, global warming, pollution and other environmental issues. Carbon footprint is real. It exists and, in fact, continues to affect the world we live in.

Defining Carbon Footprint

Two essential words comprise the term carbon footprint. Fundamentally, “carbon” means the carbon dioxide circulating in the atmosphere. It is also the general word used for other greenhouse gasses emitted into the air. On the other note, “footprint” refers to impact or effect.

Think about the footprints people leave on the beach sand upon walking on the shore. That is exactly what carbon footprint is like. It’s about the impact humans leave on the earth in the form of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Calculating Your Personal Carbon Footprint

The food we eat, products we use, vehicles we ride on and electricity we consume emit carbon dioxide. In fact, our activities, lifestyle, homes, and countries contribute to climate change. And carbon footprint is the best estimate we can get of the full impact our doings affect the earth. It quantifies the amount of our carbon emission. With this, knowing how to calculate your personal carbon footprint is important.

There are various standards in calculating one’s carbon footprint. There is the so-called “lifestyle assessment” and the input-output analysis. Lifestyle assessment works by adding up all the feasible emission pathways while the input-output analysis involves determining the total emissions of a particular country, dividing it by the carbon-emitting sectors and estimating the overall emissions of each sector. The input-output analysis makes sure that no emission pathway is missed out.

Calculating your carbon footprint manually is an effective way for you to understand your emissions better. You just need a lot of patience to learn how each footprint is generated. Moreover, there are also several resources online that can help you calculate your carbon footprint. Online carbon calculators are abundant across the web. To make your life simpler, you can opt to try those online calculators and easily determine your carbon emissions. However, such calculators vary in scope. So make sure that the online carbon calculator, you choose, is one that includes emissions both direct and indirect.

Avoiding Toe Prints

A toe print is a portion of a footprint. Sometimes, people are misled in their calculations because they only get a carbon toe print instead of a footprint. The idea is that, you should cover a smart scope of your carbon emissions. Not only measuring a portion, but the whole.

Say for example, running a conventional car. The carbon emitted from the car is not only the fuel combustion from the diesel or petrol.  Likewise, the carbon released as the gas was processed and transported to your nearby gasoline station is also an addition to your carbon footprint. If you do not understand this, you will end up calculating your direct emissions while neglecting the indirect ones.

Be wise in calculating your carbon footprint. And when in doubt, whether you are an individual or a business entity, you should seek help from experts who can do it right.

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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

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Climate change creates a loud buzz across the globe. People are talking about how extreme the weather is, how polluted the environment has become or how devastating the results of carbon emissions are. While it is true that humans contribute a large impact to the worsening climate situations, people are also the most influential key towards making this world a better place. As much as the increase in carbon emissions results from what you do, the healthy change can also start in you.

Although it is a bit difficult to determine what you can do to help the society, do not be disheartened. The devastating forces may be massive for you to work through, but there are countless simple actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprints day by day.

Home

While you are in the comfort of your home, you can start saving energy to reduce your carbon emission. You could replace your standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. A compact fluorescent bulb saves more than 2/3rds or up to 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. This bulb contains mercury, so make sure to choose a brand that has lower mercury than others.

Another thing, you can do to reduce your carbon footprint at home, is to mind your electronics. When you do not use your gadgets and appliances, make sure you unplug them. If you buy new ones, take time to look at the energy rating of the electronics to save you more energy in future use.

Alternative renewable energy is also a good thing to shift into. Try solar, hydro or wind power at home. Setting up your own residential solar panels and building your own turbines are excellent ways to choose green energy.

Food

The food industry is one of the largest contributors of carbon emissions. You may not have control over the food processing, but you can lower your carbon footprint by buying local products in the market. These local products are not transported from far off places, so the carbon dioxide released from them is lower compared to imported ones. Take a look at the packaging as well; less packaging means less waste.

If you have a big backyard, you could use your it to grow food.  Eating food, either fruit or vegetable, which you grow at home is energy efficient. No more fuel combustion from transportation and other consequent food processing.

Travel

When you have your own car, accelerating it slowly and smoothly, as well as maintaining speed while driving will help lower your carbon emissions. If you drive a lot, it would be better to get a green car. As of now, you can consider using public transportation and go for road travel rather than air travel when you take long distance trips. But when you need to take planes, better choose a non-stop flight instead of connecting ones.

Indeed, there are many ways you can combat global warming and climate change. The road to improved life quality through energy efficiency might be hard, but a transformed lifestyle can make a big difference. Start now – lighten your carbon footprint and help save the world.

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Understanding Carbon Emissions

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Carbon emission is one of the hottest issues in the world of energy and environment today. While it is supposedly an essential component of the ecosystem, it has already become a large contributing factor to climate change. Carbon emission might be good but abuse of this natural process has made it harmful to people across the globe.

This series of articles aims to help people understand the intricacies of carbon emission and what society can do to efficiently manage this natural occurrence.

Natural Carbon Cycle

Two important elements in the carbon cycle are carbon, which is present in every living thing all over the world; and oxygen, which is found in the air that people breathe. When these two bond together, they create a colourless and odourless greenhouse gas known as carbon dioxide, which is then crucial to trapping infrared radiation heat in the atmosphere and also for weathering rocks.

Carbon is not only found in the atmosphere of the earth. It is also an element found in oceans, plants, coal deposits, oil and natural gas from deep down the earth’s core. Through the carbon cycle, carbon moves naturally from one portion of the earth to another. Looking at this scenario, one can see that the natural carbon cycle is a healthy way to release carbon dioxide into the air in order to be absorbed again by trees and plants.

Altered Carbon Cycle

The natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere is vital to humankind. However, studies show that humans misuse this natural cycle and abuse it instead. Whenever people burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, they produce carbon dioxide – which is an excess addition to the natural flow of carbon in the environment. The problem is that the release of carbon dioxide is much more than what plants and trees can re-absorb. People are not only adding CO2 to the atmosphere, they are also influencing the ability of natural sinks, such as forests, to remove it from the atmosphere. Humans alter the carbon cycle by contributing doubled or tripled greenhouse gas to the atmosphere, faster than nature can ever eliminate. Worst, nature’s balance is destroyed.

The Result

Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gas and other gases. Although these gasses contribute to climate change, carbon dioxide is the largest greenhouse gas that humans emit. The reason why people talk about carbon emissions most, is because we produce more carbon dioxide than any other greenhouse gas.

The increasing amount of carbon emissions cause global warming to become more evident. All the extra carbon dioxide causes the earth’s overall temperature to rise as well. As the temperature increases, climate also changes unpredictably. Flood, droughts, heat waves and hurricanes are now widely experienced even in places where these phenomenon never used to happen.

To be able to reduce the risk of more severe weather conditions means burning less fossil fuels and shifting more to renewable sources. This is never easy. But, definitely, it’s worth a try.

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Sources of Carbon Emissions

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Exchange of carbon dioxide among the atmosphere, land surface and oceans is performed by humans, animals, plants and even microorganisms. With this, they are the ones responsible for both producing and absorbing carbon in the environment. Nature’s cycle of CO2 emission and removal was once balanced, however, the Industrial Revolution began and the carbon cycle started to go wrong. The fact is that human activities substantially contributed to the addition of CO2 in the atmosphere.

According to statistics gathered by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, carbon dioxide comprises 82% of UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. This makes carbon dioxide the main greenhouse gas contributing to the pollution and subsequent climate change in UK.

Types of Carbon Emissions

There are two types of carbon emissions – direct and indirect. It is easier to measure the direct emissions of carbon dioxide, which includes the electricity and gas people use in their homes, the petrol burned in cars, distance of flights taken and other carbon emissions people are personally responsible for. Various tools are already available to measure direct emissions each day.

Indirect emissions, on the other hand, include the processes involved in manufacturing food and products and transporting them to users’ doors. It is a bit difficult to accurately measure the amount of indirect emission.

Sources of Carbon Emissions

The sources of carbon emissions refer to the sectors of end-users that directly emit them. They include the energy, transport, business, residential, agriculture, waste management, industrial processes and public sectors. Let’s learn how these sources contribute carbon emissions to the environment.

Energy Supply

The power stations that burn coal, oil or gas to generate electricity hold the largest portion of the total carbon emissions. The carbon dioxide is emitted from boilers at the bottom of the chimney. The electricity, produced from the fossil fuel combustion, emits carbon as it is supplied to homes, commercial establishments and other energy users.

Transport

The second largest carbon-emitting source is the transport sector. This results from the fuels burned in diesel and petrol to propel cars, railways, shipping vehicles, aircraft support vehicles and aviation, transporting people and products from one place to another. The longer the distance travelled, the more fuel is used and the more carbon is emitted.

Business

This comprises carbon emissions from combustion in the industrial and commercial sectors, off-road machinery, air conditioning and refrigeration.

Residential

Heating houses and using electricity in the house, produce carbon dioxide. The same holds true to cooking and using garden machinery at home.

Agriculture

The agricultural sector also produces carbon dioxide from soils, livestock, immovable combustion sources and other machinery associated with agricultural activities.

Waste Management

Disposing of wastes to landfill sites, burning them and treating waste water also emit carbon dioxide and contributes to global warming.

Industrial Processes

The factories that manufacture and process products and food also release CO2 , especially those factories that manufacture steel and iron.

Public

Public sector buildings that generate power from fuel combustion also add to the list of carbon emission sources, from heating to other public energy needs.

Everybody needs energy and people burn fossil fuels to create it. Knowing how our energy use affects the environment, as a whole, enables us to take a step ahead towards achieving better climate.

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Key Steps to Complying with ESOS

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Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme has already been launched. In fact, it is by now in its initial phase. However, many businesses are still not aware of the new scheme, especially those who are covered by the qualifications for ESOS. To help them understand what they need to do in compliance to the energy efficiency strategy, here are key steps they can follow along the way.

Measure Overall Energy Consumption

The first step to complying with ESOS is to make an initial estimate of the business’ energy consumption. This includes measuring the use of electricity, renewable energy, combustible fuels and all other forms of energy consumed whether in buildings, transports and industrial processes.

Three important factors to consider are the measurement units used, the reference period and quality of data. Energy units, such as MWh and GJ, or energy expenditure costs should be applied. Business enterprises should also do the initial measurement within a reference period of 12 months. Moreover, data collected should be verifiable at hand.

Identify Areas of Significant Energy Consumption

When the total energy consumption for all the activities and assets has already been estimated, it’s then time to identify what areas in the organisation comprise the significant portion of the overall energy usage. The areas recognised should cover at least 90% of the overall consumption. Meaning to say, ESOS participants have the chance to omit 10% of the energy consumption and instead focus on the 90%. This would ensure that subsequent energy audits will be cost-effective and proportionate.

Consider and Choose Compliance Routes

In order to comply with ESOS, qualified businesses should consider what compliance routes to take. These routes include taking series of energy audits, operating and implementing a certified ISO 50001 energy management system, acquiring Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and working with Green Deal assessments. Whichever route the business takes, one should maintain credible evidences, along with helpful documents, to certify their compliance.

Report the Compliance

Except when the large enterprise covers all the significant areas of energy consumption by means of ISO 50001 certification, one should appoint a lead assessor to supervise, conduct and review the organisation’s chosen ESOS compliance route. In this case, the approved assessments should then be signed off at board level to ensure that the conclusions and recommendations for energy savings are properly carried. To confirm their compliance, the business should submit a formal notification to the Environment Agency.

Because ESOS is not just an opportunity but also an obligation, it designated compliance bodies and gave them the authority to file civil penalties towards those who fail to comply with the scheme. Not only that, these appropriate authorities have the right to publish information about non-compliant enterprises including their name, details of non-compliance and corresponding penalty amount. Among these UK compliance bodies are Natural Resources Wales, Environment Agency in England, The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

So, if you are covered with the ESOS qualifications, make sure to be informed. As the famous saying goes, “Ignorance of the law excuses no one.” Likewise, awareness of ESOS is a responsibility every large business in UK should give importance to.

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Competencies, Roles and Responsibilities of Lead Assessors

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Any organisation that opts for energy audits, Display of Energy Certificates and Green Deal Assessments needs a lead assessor to review the chosen ESOS compliance routes. The Derivative provides that energy audits should be carried out independently by qualified and accredited experts. Additionally, these audits should be implemented as well as supervised by independent authorities under the national legislation.

Lead assessors undertake several roles in ESOS assessments. He or she is the one responsible to take the lead of the entire assessment team, prepare the plan, conduct the meetings and submit the formal report to governing authorities. Nevertheless, selecting an appropriate lead assessor is an important element that every organisation should carefully consider.

Competencies Requirements of Lead Assessors

Lead assessors should be knowledgeable enough with in-depth expertise in carrying out energy efficiency assessment. They should also possess foundational, functional and technical competencies to deliver the task effectively. Likewise, consider the assessors’ sector experiences, familiarity with your business’ technologies and properties, and accreditation with prescribed standards.

As you choose your lead assessor, contemplate on the skills and qualifications that would give your organisation benefits.

Roles and Responsibilities of Lead Assessors

The business organisation is responsible for the overall legal ESOS compliance. Moreover, here are some of the roles and responsibilities that lead assessors should assume in ESOS assessments.

The lead assessor agrees on the audit methodologies that the organisation would undergo in new audits. He or she agrees with the ESOS participant regarding the audit timetable, sampling approach and visits required. It is also the lead assessor’s role to identify the opportunities on energy saving and assist in calculating the cost savings from the measures taken. During the ESOS audits, the lead assessor determines the energy use profiles, presents the recommendations and reviews the entire assessment as a whole. Furthermore, he or she should maintain the evidence pack of the ESOS to uphold the audit’s credibility, its findings and recommendations.

Finding Lead Assessors

Energy and environment professionals would only be able to demonstrate their expertise as lead assessors upon registering in a professional body accredited by the Environment Agency. Any business that needs a lead assessor is advised to check on the EA’s website to see the details of approved registers.

Lead assessors can either be in-house experts or external professionals. However, they should be able to provide proof of membership as an approved register to take the role of a lead assessor. If the organisation has an internal lead assessor, the company should then take the final ESOS assessment to two board-level directors that would sign the formal report.

Indeed, the lead assessor is an organisation’s partner when it comes to delivering great results. With good professional conduct and excellent management of an assessment team, the lead assessor can help achieve breakthrough energy efficiency strategies. More than anything else, the organisation will benefit from maximum energy savings opportunities ahead. Thus, every qualified business enterprise should invest in finding the best lead assessor to guide them towards success.

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