Wasted office energy costs buildings £60m a year

Just a few thousand office blocks across the UK are wasting enough energy to power 100,000 homes. That’s the conclusion of a recent report by the Green Alliance that names the Capital as the worst offender. As concerns around the sustainability and environmental performance of our buildings mounts, can facilities management professionals afford to ignore these issues?

The scale of the problem

Energy wasted by offices in the City of London could power 65,000 homes, equivalent to a town the size of Kingston Upon Thames. Not only is there a significant financial cost of £35 million a year, but the carbon emissions are equivalent to nearly 50,000 cars.

The picture doesn’t change when you move outside London, with the energy wastage from 3,000 office buildings in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol amounting to £25 million in unnecessary bills and enough energy to power 42,000 homes.

What’s the solution?

The challenge for FM account managers is to tackle the problem head-on to make financial and environmental savings in the short and long term. There are obvious easy wins, for example, AI energy optimisation systems could reduce energy use by up to 14% in a commercial building with a payback on the investment in just months. In the City of London alone, that could represent as much as a £13 million saving within a year.

Better digital technology is an obvious solution when FM managers want to make financial savings and reduce carbon emissions. The use of smart sensors and algorithms allows facilities management to track energy usage in a building and modulate to suit business needs, significantly improving energy performance.

The Australian way

FM project managers would do well to follow Australia’s lead. For the last 13 years, the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) has worked consistently to reduce energy use by Australian office buildings by almost 40%. This has been achieved by a combination of employing digital technologies and the annual disclosure of each building’s energy performance. This has created year on year improvement across the sector.

It’s estimated that a similar programme implemented across the City of London would reduce carbon emissions and bring down business energy bills by a total of £367 million over the next decade.

Reducing energy waste

Using energy efficiently is a simple and effective way to reduce costs and work towards sustainability. By retrofitting LED lighting and HVAC systems in older buildings, a 30% reduction in energy usage can be made. Effectively using occupancy sensors and timers for interior and exterior lighting is another simple win for facilities managers.

Key to energy efficiency is well-managed maintenance. A CMMS (Computerised Maintenance Management System) can plan and track maintenance to ensure the functionality, safety and energy efficiency of any commercial building.

Achieving the zero-emissions goal

The Committee on Climate Change says that cutting waste energy is critical if the UK is to achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. The Government is already on course to miss its 2030 target of reducing energy usage by business by at least a fifth.

Digital technology is an obvious and quick win when it comes to tracking and reducing energy use across your property portfolio. Is your FM strategy up to the challenge of cutting carbon emissions and business costs?