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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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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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 7, 8 & 9 – Sign-Off, Compliance & Appeals

Mature father with small daughter on field on wind farm, running

This is the final chapter in our series of short posts summarising the quite complex ESOS guidelines (click on ‘Comply with ESOS’ to see the details). This one addresses the legalities to follow to complete your report – and how to appeal if you are not happy with any of the Environment Agency’s decisions.

  1. Director Sign-Off

This is by no means an easy ride. Confirmation of the work at individual or lead assessor level locks the company into the penalty cycle in the event there are significant irregularities. By signing off the assessment, the board level director(s) # agree that they have

  • Reviewed the enterprise’s ESOS recommendations
  • Believe the enterprise is within the scope of the scheme
  • Believe the enterprise is compliant with the scheme
  • Believe the information provided is correct

Having an internal assessor requires a second board-level signature.

  1. Compliance

You report compliance on the internet. This is free and you can do it at any time within the deadline. You can dip in and out of the process as many times as you wish, but must use the link in the receipting email. While this is something a board member must do, there is no reason why the lead assessor should not complete the basics. The online compliance notification addresses the following topics:

  • The ESOS contact person in the enterprise
  • Any aggregation / dis-aggregation during the period
  • The names and contact details of the lead assessor
  • The proportion of energy consumption per compliance route

The Environment Agency will acknowledge receipt. This does not constitute acceptance. You should keep the ESOS evidence pack in a safe place with at least one backup elsewhere.

  1. Compliance & Enforcement Issues

In the event the Environment Agency decides your enterprise has not met ESOS requirements, it may either (a) issue a compliance notice with instructions, or (b) apply one of the following civil penalties:

  • A fine of up to £5,000 for failure to maintain records
  • A fine of up to £50,000 for failure to undertake an energy audit
  • A fine of up to £50,000 for a false or misleading statement

Any enterprise has the right of appeal against government decisions. In the case of ESOS, this is via:

  • The First-Tier Tribunal if your enterprise is England, Wales or off-shore based
  • The Scottish Minister if your enterprise is based in Scotland
  • The Planning Commission if your enterprise is Northern Ireland-based

The notice you appeal against will supply details of the appeal steps to take.

This blog and its companion chapters concerning the ESOS Guidelines as amended 2015 are with compliments of ecoVaro. We are the people who break ESOS data into manageable chunks of information, so that board-level directors have greater confidence in what they sign.

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The Future of Cloud Backup and Recovery

Cloud storage upload and download data management technology

We came across a post on Docurated that pulled together thirty-seven suggestions for the top cloud storage mistakes user companies make. Given that cloud storage seems to be the best backup solution for now at least, we decided to turn these ideas around to sense the direction cloud backup and recovery needs to take, if it is still to be relevant in say ten years’ time.

Has Cloud Storage Largely Saturated the West?
It probably has. Outside of major corporates who make their own arrangements – and SME’s that use free services by email providers – the middle band of companies in Europe and America have found their service providers, although they may have never tested the recovery process, to see if it works.

The new gold rush in the cloud backup and recovery business is, or should be emerging markets in Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. There, connectivity is brittler than over here. To be relevant in these fragile, more populous areas our cloud backup and recovery industry need to be more agile and nimble.

• It must provide a simpler service emerging commerce can afford, refresh its user interfaces in third world languages, have more accessible help, and be patient to explain how cloud storage works to newbies. In other words, it must source its call centre operators in the areas it serves.

• It must adapt to local connectivity standards, and stop expecting someone with ADSL broadband to keep up with cloud server networks running at up to 1GBPS compared to their 10MBPS at best. For user sourcing and retention purposes, these new cloud backup and recovery services must be the ones who adapt.

• It must facilitate disaster recovery simulations among its clients in calmer moments when things are going well. Are they backing up the right files, are they updating these, and are their brittle ADSL networks able to cope with their cloud service providers’ upload and download speeds?

• It must develop lean and agile systems slim enough to accommodate a micro client starting out, but sufficiently elastic to transfer them seamlessly to big data performance. The Asian, African, South American, and Middle Eastern regions are volume driven, and individual economies of scale are still rare.

• It must not expect its users to know automatically what they need, and be honest to admit that Western solutions may be wrong-sized. Conversion funnels in the new gold rush are bound to be longer. Engagements there depend on trust, not elevator sales letters. Our competition in these countries already works this way.

• It must be honest and admit cloud storage is only part of the solution. To recruit and retain users it must step back to 1983, when Compuserve offered its customers 128k of disc space, and spent an amount of effort explaining how to filter what to put there.

Cloud Storage of Data is Only One Part of the Solution
Governance reports and stock certificates burn just as easily as do servers in a fire. We must not transfer bad habits to exciting new markets. We close this article with the thoughts of John Howie, COO of Cloud Security Alliance, as reported in the Docurated post we mentioned, and these apply across the globe, we believe.
There is no single most important thing to carry forward into the future of cloud backup and recovery. We must be mindful when moving data that this can be fragile too. We must also create layers of backup the way insurance companies re-insure, that make any one cloud backup and recovery business redundant if it happens.
We hold the trust of our customers in our hands but trust is delicate too. We must cease trying to make a pile of money quickly, and become more interested in ensuring that data transferred back and forth is synchronised. The cloud backup and recovery industry needs only one notorious mistake, to become redundant itself in the ten years we mentioned.

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ESOS Facts on a Page

Wind turbines generating electricity with blue sky - energy conservation concept

The UK’s ESOS energy saving program stands for ‘Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme’. Its purpose is to reduce demand – and hence fossil-based pollution at both ends of the supply chain. It currently applies to large UK companies only. However its guidelines are also valuable input to smaller firms voluntarily going greener.

The program threshold is 250 employees and / or turnover or at least £UK50 million. This affects approximately 9,000 UK firms, with others below the threshold wondering whether the government plans to lower it. In essence, ESOS requires that qualifying businesses complete comprehensive audits of energy use and opportunities at least every fourth year.

The plan is carrot and stick. Compliant companies will probably uncover significant savings when they stop and measure. They may even unearth carbon credits they can sometime exchange for cash. Reactionary firms who try to duck the issue will feel Her Majesty’s wrath through stiff penalties. In time, they may find it harder to attract investors. If ESOS affects your company, then the wise thing could be complying by the first deadline of 5 December 2015.

To do so, you must conduct an energy audit and report it to the UK Environment Agency. This comprises

  1. Measuring total energy use across processes, transport and facilities
  2. Pie charting 90% of this to identify areas that are energy intensive
  3. Singling out cost-effective energy-saving projects in high use areas
  4. Submitting your report to the Environment Agency ahead of the deadline

ecoVaro recommends affected companies do not leave this to the last minute. While having ISO 50001 may exempt some from ESOS, the regulations are far from straightforward and it will take months to reach complete clarification. We would like to suggest a more balanced approach.

ESOS is a wonderful incentive to save energy costs while contributing to a better future for the kids. The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is precisely that. The cost of energy has crept up on us to the extent that we have to do something, government or no government.

Measuring energy consumption is as simple as installing meters at critical points in the flow, and you probably have many of them anyway. Once you have your data you no longer have to crunch the numbers. ecoVaro can do this for you and return the result in the form of handy graphs and spreadsheets.

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2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 3 – The ESOS Assessment

Close up of thoughtful businesswoman at work

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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. Notify the Environment Agency of Compliance within the deadline using the online notification system at snapsurveys.com as soon as the enterprise believes is fully compliant.
  8. 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.

CONTACT US

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  • We answer any questions and make recommendations based on your feedback for "how to walk before you run"
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ESOS What is the Truth?

Business couple talking in office meeting

When the UK administration introduced its ESOS Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme reactions from business people followed a familiar theme.

  • Do nothing it will go away
  • The next Westminster will drop this
  • Another stealth tax. I don’t have time for this
  • Give the problem to admin and tell them to fix it

ecovaro decided to share three facts with you. These are

(1) ESOS is not a government money spinner

(2) all major political parties support it, and

(3) it is a cost-effective way to put money back in your pocket while feeling better about what business pumps into the environment.

Four More ESOS Facts

1. You Cannot Give the Problem to Admin – Energy is technical. The lead belongs with your operations staff because they understand how your systems work. Some things are best outsourced though. ecovaro is here to help.

2. ESOS is Not Going to Go Away – A company inside the regulation net must submit its first report by 6 December 2015. Non-compliance risks the following penalties:

  • £5,000 for not maintaining adequate records
  • £50,000 for not completing the assessment
  • £50,000 for making a false or misleading statement

3. The Employee Count is the Annual Average – The employment criteria (unlike balance sheet and turnover) is the monthly average of full and part-time employees taken across the full financial year. The fact you have <250 employees in December 2015 when the first report is due does not necessarily let you off the hook.

4. The 6 December 2014 Report is No Big Deal – When you think about it the administration is hardly likely to spend years wading through 9,000 detailed company energy plans. It has no authority to comment in any case. All that is required is for a senior director to confirm reading the document, and a lead assessor to agree it complies with the law.

Does this mean that ESOS is a damp squib? We do not think so, although some firms may take the low road. ecovaro believes the financial benefits will carry the process forward, and that the imperative to make the world a better place will do the rest.

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