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.