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Energy Efficiency

Sustainability: How food and drink businesses can succeed

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Due to climate change, embracing sustainability is no longer a matter of choice for businesses. Mounting public pressure and government legislations means companies big and small are having to make essential changes to become more sustainable.

This is particularly true for energy and carbon-intensive industries like food and drink manufacturing. As the largest manufacturing sector in the UK and fourth-highest industrial energy user in the country they have a vital role to play. And with global population figures expected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050, the industry will need to manage a 50-70% upsurge in food demand.

Latest figures show the industry is making good progress, highlighted by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF). Statistics show its members achieved a significant 53.2% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to figures from 1990.

For the businesses that already see sustainability as a vital part of their operation, the environment isn’t the only thing benefitting. Many are seeing a positive impact on their bottom line too. Barclays research shows that 75% of UK businesses commercially benefit from going green.

Against this backdrop, dairy energy supplier Flogas Britain looks at why it makes perfect business sense for food and drink manufacturers to adopt a sustainable strategy.

Improved energy efficiency

As some of the country’s highest energy users, it’s no surprise that fuel is the primary source of their greenhouse gas emissions. In some cases, energy accounts for more than 15% of expenditure costs. This shows that, not only can businesses reduce their carbon footprint, but they can make good cost savings too.

With many businesses that are off the main gas grid still reliant on fossil fuels like oil, a switch to cleaner, greener fuels like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) can be the perfect solution for reducing their carbon footprint and potentially cutting costs.

Waste reduction

Food and drink manufacturing generates high volumes of waste through the products themselves and the packaging they use. WRAP statistics show that the UK produces food waste worth £1.1 billion annually — a staggering fact that needs to drop dramatically.

Food waste isn’t just bad for the planet though, it can be bad for business too.  The FDF’s ‘Ambition 2025 – Shaping Sustainable Value Chains,’ has set a goal for the industry to send zero food waste to landfill and minimise waste across the entire supply chain.

Packaging is another topic high on the list of sustainable priorities. Food and drink manufacturers account for two-thirds of the EU’s waste packaging by weight, so the fight to reduce the reliance on plastic is a big challenge.

Investment in packaging innovation can have a positive impact on the environment and to profit margins. Packaging optimisation can help eliminate waste, cut carbon emissions and create efficiencies that save time and money.

Attract talent and investors

It’s not just consumers who are curious about a company’s sustainability efforts. Strong eco credentials can also help attract talent, whilst also improving engagement and retention of staff.

Sustainable business practices have become the leading factor in the hiring and retention of employees. People on the hunt for a new role are actively reviewing the companies they want to work for based on their eco credentials.

According to a survey of institutional investors, 98 per cent of respondents said a company with strong ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) initiatives make for an attractive and lucrative investment.

A business booster

For food and drink manufacturers, becoming more sustainable is a situation that has virtually no downside. From enhancing energy efficiency and reducing waste, to improving brand image and attracting talent, it really does make perfect sense for manufacturers to green as soon as possible.

BESA & ESTA collaborate on joint energy efficiency group

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The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has teamed up the Energy Services Technology Association (ESTA) to promote energy efficiency in buildings to government and industry.

The Energy Efficiency in Buildings Group will include members from both associations, focused on promoting the economic benefits of energy demand reduction, energy efficiency and management to all demand-side users and professionals.

ESTA is the UK’s leading energy management industry association and has been active for over 30 years in energy management. ESTA has also established a number of standards and training courses for its sector.

Both BESA and ESTA are well known for promoting members’ interests in the UK, Europe and internationally. The joint Group will help to raise awareness of better energy management with government, business organisations and other relevant trade associations.

The two associations will retain their independence, but plans for the Energy Efficiency in Buildings Group include a combined newsletter and webinars to share information with a wider audience. The partners say the group will also enable the them to work together on areas such as the Youth Stem Summit and Young People in Engineering, where energy management is a link.

The Energy Efficiency in Buildings Group will meet quarterly and include a cross-section of ESTA and BESA members. A chair for the group will be announced shortly.

Jason Hemingway, BESA Membership Director, said: “Our goal in working with ESTA is to raise the energy consciousness of building owners and managers. Harnessing smart technology in the built environment will be vital for achieving the UK’s net-zero carbon target by 2050. It will also help to ensure that our sector can emerge stronger from 2020 and build for the future.”

Mervyn Pilley, Executive Director at ESTA, said: “The new joint Special Interest Group will allow us to share knowledge while making the most of the two associations’ government and industry contacts to amplify this important message.”

The future of offices

420 280 Stuart O'Brien

By ETS

The role of the office is changing. Over recent times, we’ve seen a rapid shift in how businesses across all sectors operate. Due to Covid-19, more people than ever are working from home, with many offices remaining empty or at least operating with heavily reduced capacity.

And the response to this has mostly been positive: employees have gained additional flexibility and are able to spend more time with their families, while, from a business side, reports from industry seem to suggest that there haven’t been any significant drop-offs in productivity. It’s probably safe to say that remote working is here to stay in one form or another, and is likely to make up a large chunk of people’s working weeks going forward.

Of course, this begs the question – what does this change in working dynamic mean for the concept of the company office, and businesses’ existing estates?

The Changing Role of Office Spaces 

It’s important to examine the function the office has traditionally played for businesses in order to work out how it might change in the future.

The office has always been a key social space for companies. Not only is it somewhere for existing colleagues to collaborate and connect, but it also acts as an essential hub for new employees, and a key part of the overall business ‘identity’. For staff – especially new recruits – the process of coming to the office, meeting your new colleagues and learning about the company culture has always been an essential step in employee onboarding. 

And it’s hard to see this changing drastically in the future. Businesses will always need that physical hub, even if it isn’t used in exactly the same way with the same level of frequency.

One shift we’re expecting to see is just how much office space businesses need. Many large companies structure their office portfolio through a ‘hub-and-spoke’ model. This means that, usually, they have one or a few large offices in the central business districts of key cities, such as a London or Manchester, and several smaller regional offices elsewhere.

With the majority of employees regularly working from home, these smaller offices could come to be seen as inessential, prompting companies to reduce their overall property footprint and instead focus on one or two central offices, which are served by good transport infrastructure – and with a potentially higher requirement on quality of space for these remaining key assets.

It is estimated that real estate roughly accounts from 8% of a company’s total operating costs on average, so cutting back on total occupied space could act as an effective way to protect company finances during these turbulent times. Any freed-up budget could be retained, funneled into R&D and service development, or be used to fund areas of the business that were traditionally supported by the office, such as company culture and staff collaboration.

Flexible Work Environments 

As businesses consolidate their portfolios and certain offices become unoccupied, demand will grow for increased flexibility in these assets, as property and portfolio managers look to adapt and reposition commercial space in the market and seek out new streams of revenue. We’re likely to see a shift in how these spaces are used, perhaps transforming into co-working areas or even seeing either partial or full transformation into alternative uses – such as retail or even residential.

With this increased need for offices to play multiple roles, there will be a greater need for flexibility and adaptability of space – likely to be facilitated through the adoption of a ‘Smart Buildings’ approach. 

Many offices aren’t currently equipped to function in a way that future demand may require them to, and with things changing quickly, its important that building managers pinpoint the changes that need to be made, the associated technical requirements, and then look to evaluate the current capability of the existing building services to facilitate such alteration.

Where office use is to be retained, businesses are likely to expect more from their space in the future – especially from a health and wellbeing perspective. In light of Covid-19, factors such as internal air quality are going to be more important than ever.

Additionally, energy efficiency and operational cost will also be key considerations. With many offices operating at reduced occupancy, the automation of lighting, heating and other systems will play an essential role in streamlining processes, and ‘right sizing’ consumption and cost.

Furthermore, with an ever increasing focus on sustainability performance – especially in the light of the huge recent traction around the Net Zero carbon agenda – the ability of building systems to adapt to the increased demand for space flexibility whilst maintaining robust control of consumption and cost, and to operate on a trajectory to Net Zero status, will require more consideration of how buildings are specified, managed, adapted and maintained than ever before to mitigate risk of building obsolescence and to protect capital and rental value.

In these changing times, it’s important to partner with the right technical advisor. ETS has a wealth of experience across all these areas, and can help you prepare your offices for the future. 

We will assist your business to find the optimum Smart Buildings solutions to enable building adaptation, futureproofing and occupant wellbeing, whilst keeping a firm grip on cost and driving down carbon emissions.

Our expert team are always here to help; you can contact us by calling 0117 205 0542 or drop us an email at enquiries@energy-ts.com.

www.energy-ts.com

£3m funding for smart energy systems

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UK businesses and researchers can apply for a share of up to £3 million to support projects to develop important technology components that improve the efficiency of local energy systems.

The funding, available through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution Challenge, aims to support projects that investigate innovative components that would improve the efficiency of local energy systems.

Areas of interest include applications for monitoring gas and electricity hardware and software, improving integration between local and national electricity networks and markets, optimisation of generation in real time across many sites, operators and aggregators, improving efficiency of heat networks, heating and cold storage, especially inter-seasonal and optimising the coupling of electricity, heat and transport.

The competition opens on 22 July 2019, with the deadline for applications midday on 9 October 2019.

Businesses of any size may apply, with expected projects to range in size between £100,000 and £500,000

For more information click here: 

https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/competition/397/overview#summary

Image by Alberto Sanchez from Pixabay

MPs warn Government on energy efficiency targets

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The UK stands no chance of meeting its emissions reduction targets, including net zero by 2050, unless the Government takes urgent action to revive its failing energy efficiency policy and builders are compelled to deliver the latest energy efficiency standards.

That’s the warning delivered by MPs in a report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, which states that improving the energy efficiency of buildings will be vital to meeting climate change obligations, eradicating fuel poverty and lowering home energy bills.

The report asserts that energy efficiency is the cheapest way of reducing carbon emissions, but says public investment has shrunk, and the rate of installations has gone backwards – with insulation measures installed in houses under Government schemes now around 95 per cent lower than in 2012.

The report concludes that energy efficiency is a national infrastructure priority and calls on the Government to designate it as such. The report is clear that if the Government is serious about achieving its climate and fuel poverty targets it needs to fill the substantial investment gap and allocate more central funding for energy efficiency. 

It also highlights the low levels of per capita investment in residential energy efficiency schemes in England compared with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, concluding that the UK Government considers energy efficiency less of a priority than its counterparts in the devolved administrations.  

The report calls for more robust building regulations, finding that builders are currently able to exploit loopholes that allow them to build homes to outdated standards and sell homes that do not meet advertised energy standards. 

Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “Improving energy efficiency is by far the cheapest way of cutting our emissions and must be a key plank of any credible strategy to deliver net zero by 2050. If the Government lacks the political will to deliver energy efficiency improvements, how can we expect it to get on with the costlier actions needed to tackle climate change? More energy efficient buildings are not only crucial for tackling climate change but are vital for lowering customers’ energy bills and lifting people out of fuel poverty. Despite a consensus on what needs to be done, Ministers have continued to sit on their hands and failed to deliver the policies needed to boost energy efficiency. 

“The Government needs to commit to investing in schemes to ensure all buildings are brought up to the highest energy efficiency standards. The Government has failed to close loopholes in regulations that allow builders to develop to outdated standards and also enabled builders to sell homes that do not meet the standards advertised.” 

The report says the Government should set out urgently how it intends to meet its target for all homes to reach EPC Band C by 2035, which the Committee considers an empty commitment. 

The report also recommends that the Government drastically increases the £5 million allocated to the Green Home Finance Innovation Fund, set up to encourage the private sector to develop finance products to incentivise households to make energy efficiency improvements.  

Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay

Do you specialise in Energy Efficiency? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on Energy Management Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the market – and in June we’ll be focussing on Energy Efficiency solutions.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help energy management buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Energy Efficiency solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Lisa Rose on 01992 374077 / l.rose@forumevents.co.uk.

Here are the areas we’ll be covering in 2019, month by month:

June – Energy Efficient Solutions
July – Data Collection & Management
August – Water Management
September – Solar PV
October – Lighting
November – HVAC
December – Water Strategy

For more information on any of the above, contact Lisa Rose on 01992 374077 / l.rose@forumevents.co.uk.