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Energy Efficient Lighting/Controls 

Lighting is a significant cost within an office and substantial savings can be achieved from simple policy implementations to installation of new lighting. 

  • Raise a 'switch off' policy to the staff, from just switching of all the lights if they are the last person leaving the office to ensuring they switch of the lights which aren't required to be on e.g. empty meeting rooms. If there is a need for certain lights to be left on you could put a coloured sticker on the light switches indicating which ones should be left on. You could also put posters up reminding people to switch the lights off when suitable. 
  • Install new energy efficient lighting, for example LED or T5 lighting to replace old inefficient lights. 
  • If possible, include lighting controls such as passive infra-red presence or absense detection. These work well with LED lighting where the light comes on instantly and it doesn't reduce the light life. These controls work great in areas such as meeting rooms, toilets, kitchen areas and storerooms.
  • There is also a function on new lighting where the lights dim down to a pre-determined level if they don't pick up any movement, this works great in corridors and stairwells to reduce energy consumption.
  • Include day light dimming for lights which are near windows. The lights will dim down or switch off during periods of natural day light entering the building.
  • External car park? Arrange for a photocell to ensure the lights are only on when lighting levels are low, you can also incorporate a time clock to ensure the lighting isn't left on when not required.

Heating 

Heating can account for up to 40% of the total energy costs within a typical office environment and possible the hardest area to achieve sufficient savings and also keep the workforce comfortable. Every 1°C reduction can reduce fuel consumption in a typical office by 8%.

  • Carry out a simple survey and ask the workforce their opinions of the heating levels. This will help identify any areas which are over heated, under heated or draughty.
  • Only heat the area to the required level which is suitable for the type of work being carried out. An area where staff are carrying out manual labour won't require the temperature to be set as high as people who are sitting down. Also, take into account heat gains from equipment and people in the area, you can set the thermostat a degree or two below the desired temperature to maximise savings. 
  • Encourage staff to dress for the conditions. Visitors will typically be dressed for external weather conditions. 
  • Create a dead band where there isn't any heating or cooler on, typically this will be 19-26°Cs. 
  • In commercial or industry buildings with high ceilings it can be worth investigating the option of installing de-stratification fans to blow the warm arm at high level back down to ground level where it is needed. 

Heating Time Programs 

  • Ensure you aren't heating the property outside of working hours, during colder spells you may need to preheat the property to ensure it is a suitable temperature for the arriving workforce. This can be done via a simple time clock on the boiler and adjusted accordingly. 
  • Install a Building Energy Management System (BEMs) with an optimiser and compensator, this will calculate the required preheat period in the morning and adjust the boiler output accordingly via internal and external sensors recording temperature. 

Insulation 

  • Insulate exposed pipework and valves within the plant-room. This will reduce heat loss and energy costs. 
  • Certain types of buildings will have a cavity wall, filling the cavity will improve the building fabric. Three types of materials are used in the UK, mineral woll insulation is the most popular, the other two options are polyurethane or urea formaldehyde foam. 
  • Solid walls can let through twice as much heat as a cavity wall. Solid walls can be insulated internally by fitting insulation boards to the wall, or externally by applying a layer of insulation material to the wall and then covering it with a suitable type of render or cladding.
  • If the property has accessible roof space or a suspended ceiling, it may be possible to insulate this area to reduce heat losses. If insulation is already present it's worth checking to see if it can be topped up. If a property has a flat roof it can still be insulated internally or externally.
  • Fit draught excluders to windows and doors where applicable. This can be done inexpensively with self-adhesive draught excluders, reducing heat loss and improving working conditions.

Boilers

If a boiler is approaching 20 years old it may be worth a replacement with a modern condensing boiler, or carry out a feasibility study to install a biomass boiler. The advantages of a boimass boiler includes:

  • Benefit from Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) payments for a period of 20 years.
  • Operational cost savings. 
  • Reduced fuel price volatility.
  • Improved energy performance rating for the building.

The disadvantages is the initial setup costs, the need for a storage area for the biomass fual and may require having a backup boiler also (fueled by an alternative fuel). 

Voltage Optimisation

This is an energy saving technology which is mainly installed in series with the mains electricity supply to produce a reduced supply voltage for the site's electrical equipment. A feasibility study should be carried out as this technology works better with some types of equipment. 

Renewable Energy

Solar Photovoltaic (solar PV) is where solar panels absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. An invertor is used to change the current from DC to AC. This can then be used directly on site and if there is any extra it can be stored in a battery or sold back into the grid. The efficiency of a PV system is dependent on the direction and angle of the panels. 

Solar Thermal uses the sun's heat to warm up water or fluid in colectors that are normally fitted to your roof. This is then used to heat up water in the hot water cylinder. This system is ideal where there is high demand for hot water.

Wind turbines works on a simple principle. The energy in the wind turns propeller like blades around a rotor. The rotor is connected to the main shift, which spins a generator to create electricity.

Heat Pumps come in two forms, ground source heat pumps and air source heat pumps.

  • Ground Source Heat Pumps are pipes that can be buried into the ground, either vertically or hoziontally, they circulate a mixture of water and antifreeze around the pipe which is called a ground loop. They then extract the heat from the surrounding area which then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump. The benefits of ground source heat pumps is that the ground reamins at a constant temperature all year round and it also benefits from Renewable Heat Incentives. 
  • Air Source Heat Pumps extract heat from the outside air - just like a frisge removes heat from itself. The heat is concentrated to a higher temperature by a heat pump. They can be extremely efficient, for every 1 unit of electricty used, they produce 3 units of useful heat. They come in 2 types, Air to water and Air to Air pumpss. The aire water can be used for space heating as well as hot water whereas the air to air pump can only be used for space heating. Air source heat pumps also benefit from the Renewable Heat Incentive. 

Combined Heat and Power

Combined heat and power (CHP) is an efficient process that captures and utilisies the heat that is a by-product of the electricity generation process. This heat would otherwise be produced by a conventional boiler. Ideally, a CHP will be sized to match the base heat demand of a site during the warmer months ensuring maximum efficiency away from the electricity load. By installing CHP you may qualify for Climate Change Levy Exemption, Enhanced Capital Allowances and Business Rate Exemption. If the CHP uses eligible renewables, the heat produced from the CHP will be eligible for Renewable Heat Incentive.

Rainwater Harvesting

Where a property has a large roof space it may be worthwhile carrying out a feasibility study for the installation of rainwater harvesting. This is when rainfall is collected from the roof space via the guttering and is directed into a storage tank underground, the tank will have a mains supply incase it needs topping up. The stored water can then be used for flushing toilets/urinals. 

Climate Change Levy

The Climate Change Levy (CCL) is an environmental tax to encourage the business owner to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner. The CCL is paid on electricity, gas and solid fuels. The charge is highlighted on the business energy invoice. 

CCL is applicable if your business is in one of the following sectors:

  • Industrial
  • Commercial
  • Agricultural
  • Public services

It is not applicable for:

  • Businesses which use small amounts of energy
  • Domestic energy users
  • Charities engaged in non-commercial activities 

Fuels that are exempt

Electricity, gas and solid fuels are normally exempt from the main rates of CCL if any of the following apply: 

  • they won't be used in the UK
  • they're supplied to or from certain combined heat and power (CHP) schemes registered under the CHP quality assurance (CHPQA) programme. 
  • the electricity was generated fromrenewable sources before 1st August 2015
  • they're used to produce energy in a generating station which has a capacity of 2MW or greater
  • they won't be used as fuel
  • they're used in certain forms of transport

Pay a reduced rate

You can get a reduction on the main rates of CCL if you're an energy intensive business and have entered into a Climate Change Agreement (CCA) with the Environment Agency. 

Energy intensive businesses can get a 90% reduction for electricity and a 65% reduction for gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coal and other solid fuel. 

Check out the latest CCL rates and further information.