Energy efficient

What should facilities managers know about energy audits?

Energy management systems are comprehensive frameworks for conserving and managing energy at every part of the supply chain. In the EU, a raft of legislation and energy efficiency audits are used to implement this process. It is likely, with Brexit, that in the UK we will tend towards the International Standards Organisation processes, in particular, ISO 50001. This is the international standard for the implementation and monitoring of energy management systems (EnMS).

If a facilities management function or business complies with ISO 50001, it also meets a host of other energy-saving regulations, such as mandatory carbon reporting.

However, until transition arrangements are clearer, the EU Energy Efficiency Directive will still be in force. And very much to the point for facilities managers, the EU Energy Performance of Buildings directive is currently making its way through the system.

It couldn’t really be more complicated, except that one thing is clear - the demand from government for more energy-efficient buildings and facilities is not going to go away. So energy audits are definitely here to stay.

Start with a self-audit
Although dozens of companies and consultancies offer energy audits, it can be a good idea for a company or organisation to self-audit before calling in the professionals. The results of the self-audit will give the company a much more informed basis for discussion with any potential energy auditor they may decide to employ.

The Department of Energy now issues a tool for companies to self-audit, under the less-than-snappy title of the Building Energy Asset Score. However, this is a useful tool, because it uses a national standard, produces a score, stores data and generates an evaluation of both the physical building envelope and the systems in it, including mechanical and electrical. It suggests cost-effective upgrades as well.

As of the end of March 2018, the tool also allows you to store energy audit data, once you have employed someone to carry out your energy audit, or carried it out yourself.

What happens during an energy audit?

The auditor will look at current energy usage in the facility and survey the building and its systems to assess those areas where energy could be saved. This can be a desk audit rather than a physical walk around. The auditor should be able to benchmark the facility against comparable buildings in the same region, taking into account the age of building, its construction materials and systems.

The auditor will then assess the building and provide a score. They should suggest ways to improve energy efficiency. If the building passes the standards for the relevant energy assessment process, the auditor will certificate the building.

Needless to say, Energy Auditors are very much in demand, and there is every sign that the demand for these professionals will continue to grow. Some facilities management jobs now reference a combination role of Energy Manager and Auditor. It’s a sign that the need to evidence energy efficiency will continue, whichever standard companies and organisations use, and whatever the final arrangements after Brexit.

Blog - Catch 22

5 reasons to attend a careers fair

It can be pretty daunting to start looking around at the world of work when you're finishing school or even college. There is such a range of employers, courses apprenticeships and other options, it's difficult to know where to begin. A careers fair is a great way of doing some research quickly, because lots of different companies and providers will be gathered together in one place and you'll get the chance to ask questions. Here are the top five benefits you'll get from going to a careers fair.

1. Get the inside info

A careers fair is a great way to find out about jobs and apprenticeship opportunities that haven't even been advertised yet. If you make a good impression, talking to the employer on the stand is a great way to get remembered by them, if you decide to apply. Some organisations will even make sure that there are current trainees or apprentices on hand to give you a real insight into what it's like to work there.

2. Great networking opportunities

Just letting people know that you're interested and giving them your details can have results. Equally important is to collect names as you go around the hall talking to people. If you do decide later that you want to apply to a company, you have a named person as your contact.

3. There’s nothing like meeting people face-to-face

It's amazing how you can get the wrong impression about an organisation or company, despite all their advertising and PR. You may find that a potential employer you were seriously considering is much too formal for you - if you're an informal kind of person, a clue would be that every single person on the stand is wearing a full business suit. The opposite can happen too. A company or a career that you might not have been considering actually looks a lot more interesting when you get the opportunity to take a look at what really happens. Facilities management is a good example, as people often don't really understand what it is, until they get talking to someone doing it.

Sometimes, you can just tell that a company culture is going to suit you - it just feels right. Equally, you can also sometimes tell that you are never going to fit into a certain type of organisation.

4. More information, more quickly than you get on the internet

Web pages and social media entries don't give a huge amount of information and a lot of the information they do give is very general. You can get exactly the information you want by talking to an employer at a career fair.

5. You can flatter them into giving you lots of useful advice

Don't be afraid to ask the experts on the stand to give you advice - normally they will be flattered to be asked and very willing to help out. So if you're not sure if, say, facilities management is for you, it's fine to say, “If you were me, is this something you would consider?” This kind of advice is hard to get anywhere else, so it’s another reason why a careers fair is a must if you’re starting to look at your career and apprenticeship options.