What the UK government is proposing to improve energy efficiency in buildings

The UK government has some ambitious energy goals to achieve. By 2030, the target is to halve energy consumption in all new builds. Now, the Business and Energy Secretary, has announced that the government is looking to achieve a 43% reduction in public sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2019/20, in comparison to 2009/10.

In order to achieve these goals, the UK government has recently published its new call for evidence to help businesses improve the way they use energy. Within the report, it outlines what the Clean Growth Strategy aims to achieve in addition to the overall UK emissions targets for 2030. The call for evidence is focused predominantly on England as Scotland has already set out its goals in the Climate Change Plan with Wales and Northern Ireland also having devolved powers in energy efficiency.

So what is clean growth?

Clean growth is the way in which we can cut greenhouse gas emissions to grow our national income. Achieving clean growth is the main aim of the UK’s Industrial Strategy while ensuring an affordable energy supply for businesses and consumers. The Clean Growth Strategy has been developed to support businesses to improve their energy efficiency by at least 20% by 2030. The two main objectives of the strategy are:

  • To meet our domestic commitments at the lowest possible net cost to UK taxpayers, consumers and businesses.
  • To maximise the social and economic benefits for the UK from this transition.

Overall, the UK has a good reputation when considering energy efficiency and in the recently published ACEEE scorecard we were ranked 4th in the world for energy efficiency in industry and buildings. However, there are still areas of improvement needed for UK energy efficiency which will bring the following benefits:

  • Improved energy productivity: increased focus on energy efficiency will reduce the energy required by unit of output which will allow UK businesses to compete in a global economy.
  • Greater international opportunities: improving energy efficiency supports innovation, therefore, creating more global opportunities in markets overseas.
  • Capturing the multiple benefits of energy efficiency: these involve increased job opportunities, greater energy security and improved air quality therefore improved health. A number of other benefits can be understood through the below diagram:

Now that we understand the benefits of increasing energy efficiency in the UK, how does the government propose to do this throughout businesses?

The government’s aim is to reduce business energy use by 20% which it plans to do through the following: existing policies related to energy taxes and trading schemes, product standards and labelling, building regulations (such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards), the use of smart meters and audit schemes such as ESOS. In addition, a new and more streamlined energy and carbon reporting framework will be introduced from April 2019, therefore, introducing new, more extensive ways to reduce business energy use.

Furthermore, large businesses, SMEs and manufacturing firms must also play their part in achieving the 20% reduction target. Government analysis demonstrates that the highest amount of savings will come from commercial and industrial buildings, particularly those in the retail, hospitality and office industries. This can be done by improving lighting, insulation and building management systems. Our arbn consult software solution can suggest retrofit improvement strategies in minutes, such as HVAC and lighting improvements. This is the perfect tool to use to quickly improve the energy performance of commercial buildings.

As a result, the first and most important area to tackle the reduction of carbon emissions is through the UK’s building stock. However, this can be challenging due to the diversity of our non-domestic building stock. For example, building size and type and what energy, heat and cooling requirements a building needs make installing energy efficient measures a challenge as each could require a different approach.

Current building standards are ensuring property owners and landlords are improving their buildings with retrofit measures. Since the introduction of MEES, newly leased non-domestic properties with EPCs of F or G can no longer be let and as of 2023, all leased buildings will require an EPC of E or higher. Additionally, Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, introduced the Construction Sector Deal which is aimed at the building, digital, energy and manufacturing industries which urges them to explore new methods of improving productivity that use less energy. It is also possible that building regulations like these, including MEES, could become tighter in the coming years, therefore, putting more pressure on the building sector to deliver their targets.

Another way to put pressure on UK companies is by forcing them to report their power use, carbon emissions and energy efficiencies in their annual reports. After Brexit, all companies will have to do this in a bid to drive behaviour change in business and make people fully aware of the importance of energy efficiency. The simple fact that businesses will have to see the exact figures related to their business and energy use could hopefully see the 2030 target achieved much sooner than we think!

arbn consult is the perfect solution for you if you need to make quick improvements to your building’s energy performance.

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