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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

Environment Agency ramps up CRC awareness

Friday March 26 2010

Says energy hungry buildings, including those operated by retailers, are key to reducing carbon emissions

Says energy hungry buildings, including those operated by retailers, are key to reducing carbon emissions

 

Organisations that tighten the reins on their energy-hungry buildings will be key to meeting carbon reduction targets, the Environment Agency said yesterday.

 

Hotels, restaurants, shops and public sector offices have the potential to make the most significant cuts in carbon emissions with minimal investment. Therefore these organisations are key to achieving the UK’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

 

In less than two weeks time, new legislation comes into force that will require organisations with high energy consumption to become more energy efficient by providing financial and reputational incentives.

 

CRC compliance looming

 

The government scheme, known as the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme, affects large energy users in business, industry and the public sector. A report by the Environment Agency suggests that the scheme could reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 11.6 million tonnes per year by 2020 – the equivalent to taking four million cars off the road.

 

The scheme will see around 5,000 organisations buy allowances for each tonne of CO2 they emit and be placed in a league table according to their energy performance. All the money raised is then given back, with the best performers getting more than they paid for their carbon emissions and the worst performers receiving less.

 

Retailers, the public sector and the hospitality industry together produce more than a third of the emissions covered by the scheme but could have the most potential to reduce their energy consumption.

 

Small efforts deliver major gains

 

Tony Grayling, head of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the Environment Agency, said: “Our research shows that around a quarter of the emissions from these sectors could be cut at no overall cost. In most cases the savings on energy bills will outweigh the costs of the energy saving measures. In companies where most of the energy used goes towards running inefficient buildings – shops and offices for example – there are some very simple things that can be done that will reduce energy use almost overnight and give big cost savings.

 

“In most cases, better management of heating, air conditioning and lighting will deliver immediate benefits.”

 

Sainsbury’s, Hilton Hotels and the Environment Agency are all examples of organisations that have taken simple steps to reduce their energy consumption and reaped the financial rewards.

 

Sainsbury’s supermarket chain has an initiative that focuses on improving the energy efficiency of its stores. This initiative identifies ways for individual stores to reduce their energy consumption through simple steps such as installing sensor-controlled lighting and fridge blinds and changing staff behaviour. On average, stores that go through this process are delivering energy savings of 15%.

 

Leading by best-practice example

 

Hilton Worldwide has developed tools that allow properties to track monthly utility consumption and operational performance – the measurement of which is becoming a brand standard in its 3,500 hotels around the world. In the UK, the company has introduced more efficient lighting systems, voltage optimisation and variable extraction. It carries out regular audits on thermal insulation systems and has building management systems to ensure all equipment is running at the highest efficiencies possible. This specific focus on energy management during the past three years has led to a total saving of more than 45,000 tonnes of CO2.

 

The Environment Agency has implemented a wide range of initiatives to make its offices and buildings as energy efficient as possible. This has ranged from roof insulation to voltage optimisation and solar hot water heating. Its carbon reduction programme has already saved around £180,000 per year on energy bills.

 

For those organisations not convinced by the financial benefits of energy efficiency, the annual league table of the best and worst performers in the CRC could be the incentive they need to start putting energy efficiency at the top of the corporate agenda.

 

“The league table is a public statement on your carbon efficiency,” added Grayling, “and, in this age of eco conscious consumers, you need to perform well to have the edge on your competitors”.