On Wednesday 10 February, we held a one-day conference, “Tackling energy demand and management to achieve real reduction in non-domestic buildings”, with our friends at Arup. Here are some of the more unusual findings from the day, as well as things we can always do with being reminded of.

7 things I didn’t know before our #GreenBuildings conference by Mike Snowden, UK Programme Officer

Ellie Mika

Scones are essential to all energy management strategies…. (sort of)

Energy management in buildings may not be the most exciting phrase, but Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust, was kind enough to translate its energy savings into a language we all speak: scones. 90,000 of them to be precise. That’s how many the organisation would need to sell to match the money saved by cutting energy in its catering operations.

It’s about comfortable buildings, not just energy efficient ones

Tackling the energy demand of our non-domestic buildings is essential when you consider they make up almost 20% of the UK’s CO2 emissions. But in tackling our energy use it’s essential that we make our buildings as comfortable as possible for the people who work, study and relax in them; not only do poorly managed buildings waste energy and money, they make their occupiers too hot, too cold and even vitamin D deficient! Ashden winners like Demand Logic see reductions of up to 50% in complaints on thermal comfort in offices, whilst saving up to 30% on their annual energy bills.

We need to be more unreasonable

We need “consistent and courageous leadership” to lead the way according to Dame Helen Ghosh. Kicking off the morning’s keynote sessions, the Director General of the National Trust made clear how important it is for leaders to be uncompromising on the issue, a sentiment echoed by Munish Datta of M&S and Rohan Parikh, formerly of Indian software giant Infosys. As Rohan put it on the day: “God, I trust; everyone else needs data” – we need to demand it from our partners, landlords and tenants, whether they want to provide it or not.

Chloe Hampson and Jonathon Porritt at the conference

Partnerships are key

Because as Chloe Hampson, Manager of the Fit for the Future Network, told us: “Most of the time the solution is already out there”. Whether these partnerships take shape by openly sharing success and failures in a safe, non-commercial environment like the Network provides, or through working with organisations like ENWORKS in Greater Manchester that recently celebrated its 1,000,000th tonne of CO2 saved.

Our winners are brilliant

As I’ve already mentioned, Demand Logic can reduce more energy bills and occupant discomfort in buildings that install its kit, ENWORKS has helped countless businesses cut their energy use to the tune of 1,000,000 tonnes of CO2, but it doesn’t stop there. We heard about how Global Action Plan’s Operation TLC has the capability of saving £35 million on the NHS’ energy bill should it be rolled out across their estate and how it has expanded from a single NHS Trust to twelve.

Munish Datta

Energy efficiency saves you money

Forget about any ideas of “green crap”, energy efficiency makes business sense. Don’t believe it? Munish Datta , Head of Plan A at M&S, told us how, over nine years of energy efficiency programmes, they have saved £625 million.

Finally, we need to translate kWh into something meaningful to the people inside the building

A key theme emerging from our panel of keynote speakers and conference chair Jonathon Porritt was the neccesity to transform energy kWhs (kilowatt hours) into an everyday unit. What that unit might be depends upon the building occupant, but it is essential in bringing down energy usage and in managing it effectively. It is simply a case of finding the right language to speak with your employees about energy, whether that is KPIs (M&S) or scones!

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