When Carrefour Pushed the Right Buttons

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Retail giant Carrefour based in Boulogne Billancourt, France is big business in anybody’s numbers. Europe’s #1 retailer opened its first store in 1958 near a crossroads (Carrefour means ‘crossroad’ in French) and has largely not looked back since then. The slogan for the hypermarket chain with more than 1,500 outlets and close to a half million employees is ‘choice and quality for everyone’. Our story begins when Carrefour decided these things belong at home too.

The company implemented a worldwide universal responsibility program firmly anchored on a tripod of goals for environmental, economic and social progress. Its first step was to appoint a five-person project team tasked with liaising with program delegates in all thirty countries in which it operates, and who had responsibility for driving these goals.

The team’s job was to make sure that policies, standards, procedures and key performance areas were common visions throughout Carrefour. By contrast, the local managers’ were tasked with aligning these specifics to local conditions in terms of environmental, political and social issues. The project team checked the fit quarterly via video conferences.

The Triple Bottom Line Goals were woven through with Carrefour’s Seven Core Values, namely Freedom, Responsibility, Sharing, Respect, Integrity, Solidarity and Progress. Constant contact was maintained with staff and other stakeholders through ‘awareness training’ seminars and other dialogues. As the program took hold and flourished, it became evident that the retail giant needed help with managing the constant stream of metrics flowing in.

After reviewing options, Carrefour appointed a software provider to monitor progress against its primary focuses on energy, water, waste, refrigeration, paper, disposable checkout bags, hygiene & quality, management gender parity, disabled people and logistics. This enabled it to track progress online against past performance, and produce meaningful reports.

The Environmental Manager in the Corporate Sustainability Department waxed lyrical when he said, “We believe that our sustainability strategy and software solution have powerfully improved collaboration, innovation, and overall performance”. He went on to describe how it was helping drive cost down and profitability up, while simultaneously growing brand.

Non-conformance costs can be high and run counter to the imperative to make a profit – while simultaneously ensuring a better world for our children’s children. In Carrefour’s case, having a consultant to measure progress was the key that unblocked the administrative bottleneck. Irish company Ecovaro does this for companies around the world. Click here. Discover what we will do for you.

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2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 2 – Deadlines and Status Changes

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The ESOS process is deadline driven and meeting key dates is a non-negotiable. The penalties for not complying / providing false or misleading information are £50,000 each. Simply not maintaining adequate records could cost you £5,000. The carrot on the end of the stick is the financial benefits you stand to gain.

Qualifying for inclusion under the ESOS umbrella depends on the status of your company in terms of employee numbers, turnover and balance sheet on 31 December 2014. Regardless of whether you meet the 2014 threshold or not, you must reconsider your situation on 31 December 2018, 2022 and 2026.

Compliance PeriodQualification Date Compliance Period Compliance Date
131 December 2014From 17 July 2014* to 5 December 20155 December 2015
231 December 2018From 6 December 2015 to 5 December 20195 December 2019
331 December 2022From 6 December 2019 to 5 December 20235 December 2023
431 December 2026From 6 December 2023 to 5 December 20275 December 2027

Notes:

1. The first compliance period begins on the date the regulations became effective

2. Energy audits from 6 December 2011 onward may go towards the first compliance report

Changes in Organisation Status

If your organisation status changes after a qualification date when you met compliance thresholds, you are still bound to complete your ESOS assessment for that compliance period. This is regardless of any change in size or structure. Your qualification status then remains in force until the next qualification date when you must reconsider it.

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ESOS Guide for UK Manufacturers Available

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The Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF) is the UK’s largest sectoral structure. Its goal is to promote the interests of manufacturing, engineering and technology-based businesses in order to enhance their competitiveness.

EEF has positioned itself in London and Brussels in order to be in a position to lobby at EU and Westminster level. Part of its role is helping its members adapt to change and capitalise on it. When it discovered that a third of UK manufacturers must comply with ESOS (and 49% had not even heard of it) EEF decided it was time to publish a handbook for its members.

According to EEF’s head of climate and environment policy Gareth Stace, ‘For the many manufacturers that have already taken significant steps to improve energy efficiency, ESOS can be viewed as a ‘stock taking exercise’, ensuring that momentum is maintained and new measures are highlighted and taken when possible’.

He goes on to add that others that have not begun the process should view it as an ‘impetus’ to go head down and find the most cost-effective ways to slash energy costs. ecoVaro adds that they would also have the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions almost as a by-product.

Firms with more than 250 employees, over £50 million revenue or both must comply with ESOS across all UK sectors. In simplest terms, they must have conducted an energy audit by 5th December 2015, and logged their energy saving plan with the Environmental Agency that is Britain’s sustainability watchdog.

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DEEC) that oversees it believes that large UK businesses are wasting £2.8 billion a year on electricity they do not need. Clearly it makes sense to focus on larger targets; however EcoVaro believes those halfway to the threshold should voluntarily comply if cutting their energy bills by 25% sounds appealing.

We are able to assist with interpreting their energy audits. These are often a matter of installing sub-meters at distribution points, and reading these for a few representative months to establish a trend. Meters are inexpensive compared to electricity costs, and maintenance teams can install them during maintenance shutdowns.

Ecovaro helps these firms process the data into manageable summaries using cloud-based technology. This is on a pay-when-used basis, and hence considerably cheaper than acquiring the software, or appointing a consultant.

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How Bouygues manages an Empire-Sized Footprint

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Bouygues is into telecoms / media, and building and road construction. It also knows it has to watch its energy footprint closely. Owning 47% of energy giant Alstom keeps it constantly in the media spotlight. Shall we find out more about its facility management policies?

The journal Premises and Facilities Management interviewed MD Martin Bouygues on his personal opinions concerning managing energy consumption in facilities. He began by commenting that this was hardly a subject for the C-Suite in years gone by. Low-level clerks simply paid the bills following which the actual amounts were lost in the general expenses account. That of course has changed.

Early pressure came from soaring energy bills, which were pursued by a whole host of electricity-saving gadgets. However, it was only after the carbon crisis caught business by surprise that the link was forged to aerial pollution, and the social responsibilities of big business to help with the solution. The duty to have an energy strategy became an obligation eagerly policed by organisations such as Greenpeace.

Unsurprisingly, Martin Bouygues’ advice begins with keeping energy consumption and its carbon footprint as high up on the agenda as health and safety. “It needs bravery and a lot of hard work to get it there,” he says, “so perseverance is the key”. 

The company has developed proprietary software that enables it to pull data from remote sensors in more than 80 countries every fifteen minutes. A single large building can contribute 50 million data items annually making data big business in the system. Every building has an allocated energy performance contract against which results are reported monthly, as a basis for reviewing progress.

The system is intelligent and able to incorporate low-occupancy periods such as weekends and public holidays. What is measured gets managed. We all know that, but how many of us apply the principle to our energy bills. With assistance from ecoVaro, the possible becomes real.

We offer a similar service to the Bouygues model with one notable exception. You don’t buy the software and you only pay when you use it. Our systems are simply designed for busy financial managers.

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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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What ISO 14001 Status did for Cummins Inc.

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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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2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 1 – Who Qualifies

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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

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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

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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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Energy Cooperation Mechanisms in the EU

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While the original mission of the European Union was to bring countries together to prevent future wars, this has spun out into a variety of other cooperative mechanisms its founders may never have dreamed of. Take energy for example, where the European Energy Directive puts energy cooperation mechanisms in place to help member states achieve the collective goal.

This inter-connectivity is essential because countries have different opportunities. For example, some may easily meet their renewable targets with an abundance of suitable rivers, while others may have a more regular supply of sunshine. To capitalise on these opportunities the EU created an internal energy market to make it easier for countries to work together and achieve their goals in cost-effective ways. The three major mechanisms are

  • Joint Projects
  • Statistical Transfers
  • Joint Support Schemes

Joint Projects

The simplest form is where two member states co-fund a power generation, heating or cooling scheme and share the benefits. This could be anything from a hydro project on their common border to co-developing bio-fuel technology. They do not necessarily share the benefits, but they do share the renewable energy credits that flow from it.

An EU country may also enter into a joint project with a non-EU nation, and claim a portion of the credit, provided the project generates electricity and this physically flows into the union.

Statistical Transfers

A statistical transfer occurs when one member state has an abundance of renewable energy opportunities such that it can readily meet its targets, and has surplus credits it wishes to exchange for cash. It ‘sells’ these through the EU accounting system to a country willing to pay for the assistance.

This aspect of the cooperative mechanism provides an incentive for member states to exceed their targets. It also controls costs, because the receiver has the opportunity to avoid more expensive capital outlays.

Joint Support Schemes

In the case of joint support schemes, two or more member countries combine efforts to encourage renewable energy / heating / cooling systems in their respective territories. This concept is not yet fully explored. It might for example include common feed-in tariffs / premiums or common certificate trading and quota systems.

Conclusion

A common thread runs through these three cooperative mechanisms and there are close interlinks. The question in ecoVaro’s mind is the extent to which the system will evolve from statistical support systems, towards full open engagement.

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