Tag Archive: #carbonemissions

  1. What are the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and why is this important for people within FM?

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    Back in 2016, the Energy Efficiency Regulations (2015) established the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, or MEES as it is often referred to, in the residential and commercial private rental sector. This was introduced by the UK Government to improve the quality of rented buildings and reduce CO2 emissions in relation to the UKs targets for decarbonisation.

    The UK Government has since pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and in the process improve the energy efficiency of the country’s historical buildings. Under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), it is not against the law to grant a new lease or the renewal of an existing lease to a landlord on a commercial property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) below an E rating. Certificates range from A, the highest to G, the lowest. The government believed that almost one in five commercial properties would be unable to achieve a rating above F.

    The rules, currently in force, are about to become even more stricter, however, as by April 2023 it will become an offence to continue to let a commercial property with an EPC rating of F or G, even in the middle of a lease.

    There are however, some exceptions to the rule as the regulation does not apply to commercial leases that are in operation for less than a six month term or more than 99 years. Some listed buildings are also on the exception list. Both the landlord and the tenant need to undertake their own research into whether leasing a listed building makes them liable. Currently an EPC rating is valid for 10 years and if a commercial property has a rating of F or G yet the lease was signed before 2018, then MEES will not apply to a lease that before the April 2023 deadline. There is a maximum fine of £150,000 for non-compliance, depending on the property’s rateable value so be aware of the risks.

    So where does the Facility Manager figure in all this? Well, there are a variety of ways in which a commercial building can be improve its energy performance and the facility manager can have a positive influence on the implementation of this–  

    • Insulation – Improve your insulation. Poorly insulated roofs and walls can have a massive impact on the EPC rating. Landlords should consider adding insulation to solid brick or metal-clad properties, especially where there are cavity walls.
    • Heating and cooling – Old HVAC plant and equipment is a significant factor in energy emissions. Install more efficient boilers, variable-speed heating and cooling pumps and high-efficiency chillers. Think about installing a heating control system that reduces the likelihood of wasting energy in different parts of the property.
    • Lighting –A low EPC rating in a commercial building will have inefficient lighting systems. Look to replace older fluorescent tubes and halogen bulbs with LEDs. Similarly with heating, lighting controls can also dramatically reduce energy wastage in unused areas of the property.
    • Predictive maintenance – Investing in predictive maintenance is crucial. After installing sensors on the assets, equipment and distribution networks in a commercial property, engineering teams can track energy efficiency and calculate when systems may begin to underperform.

    Follow the above guidelines and there will be a strong chance a landlord will achieve a higher EPC rating than the current E pass mark. There is already talk of MEES looking to introduce a minimum energy efficiency target of C or B by 2030 and with the UK under pressure to meet its 2050 objectives, there has never been a better time to get your commercial building in order.

  2. What exactly is Net Zero?

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    There is much talk about the need for businesses to become more sustainable and socially responsible in their day to day activity both in the office and out on clients’ sites. The need for businesses to become ‘net zero’ and aware of their responsibilities to reduce their day to day emissions is commonplace, but what exactly is net zero?

    Net zero refers to the point at which all carbon emissions are eliminated or offset, in efforts to quit contributing to the inertia of climate change. Leading scientists believe this could well affect the well-being of humanity globally. The UK Government has set a net zero carbon target for 2050 and are committed to this goal with the announcement that from 2030, new petrol and diesel cars will no longer be sold. While 45 per cent of FTSE 100 companies have committed to achieving net zero by 2050 or sooner, only 16 per cent have a plan on how they will achieve it. The other 55% of FTSE companies join the majority of businesses in requiring support to address the various knowledge gaps, to ensure that widespread net zero carbon commitments are rolled out alongside credible plans for organisations to achieve these objectives.

    A main point for discussion on the journey is the difference between striving for carbon neutral goals versus net zero goals. From a public Corporate Social Responsibility perspective, carbon neutrality is often used as the main point for sustainable business. The issue, however, with this approach alone is that it relies on carbon offset rather than truly sustainable practice and development, meaning that companies can buy into programs that counteract their impact. The investment in carbon capture and renewable infrastructure elsewhere is important, but so is gradually improving the way we operate here and now. Put simple, there has to be a plan in place in order to achieve the objective.

    Globally, the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions is still electricity and heat, accounting for almost a third of all emissions. There are other scopes of carbon emissions, however, with suppliers, associates, and necessary services usually the largest category and can include so much of a wider network, but is also the scope with the largest potential for positive growth by encouraging connections to make progress, and in working together in the race to carbon neutrality. Unlike other races, this is one that everyone needs to finish, and no one can afford to lose.