£2.8m of energy savings identified by EVORA in ESOS Phase One

ESOS guidance was published by the government on 26th June 2014, with a deadline for ESOS Phase One of 5th December 2015 – 528 days for organisations to achieve compliance – simple, right?

Understandably, with the data for ESOS having to overlap the qualification date of 31st December 2014, a lot of organisations left it until 2015 to arrange compliance approaches. A large proportion of these left it late, with last minute requests rolling in, the last of these, very late requests was received in October 2017 (a mere 22 months after the original deadline)!

Managing large volumes of data for an array of clients is something EVORA is used to as part of our day job, but throw in the need for communication of ESOS findings to top management prior to notification and arranging multiple site visits across the UK at short notice, made for a busy end to 2015.

Read more about ESOS Phase Two here and here.

Our Approach to ESOS Phase One

Each company we worked with had an approach tailored to their requirements to ensure the ESOS assessment fit with their operations. We worked with a range of clients including a ‘Big Six’ energy provider, institutional real estate investors, a tyre manufacturer and a bacon packing firm. This resulted in a large breadth of energy saving opportunities identified across different industries.

Whilst many compliance routes were available to participants, after consideration of the options available, the completion of energy audits was the primary compliance route taken by EVORA. These provided tangible detailed savings across both utility and transport energy use.  However, we believe moving forwards, the uptake of ISO50001 (one of the compliance routes) may increase due to the additional benefits associated with operating a certified energy management system (in place of audits every four years).

[clickToTweet tweet=”The uptake of ISO50001 may increase due to benefits associated with operating a certified energy management system” quote=”Moving forwards, the uptake of ISO50001 may increase due to the additional benefits associated with operating a certified energy management system”]

In October 2017, EVORA was instructed to complete an ESOS assessment which required submission within ten days. Our client had received an enforcement notice from the Environment Agency (which had been passed around departments for over two months prior to our involvement). A tight turnaround to say the least and shows that the Environment Agency are following up with companies they believe to be non-compliant almost two years after the original deadline.

Key Outcomes

28 Companies were supported in total with over 400 assessments (site visits, desktop analysis, transport audits) completed. Over 27,200MWh of energy savings (electricity, gas and transport based) were identified through these ESOS assessments. This equated to potential cost savings of £2m in electricity, £0.2m in gas and £0.6m in transport energy spend. All notifications of ESOS compliance were made to the Environment Agency in line with the defined timescales of the scheme.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Over 27,200MWh of energy savings were identified. This equated to £2m electricity, £0.2m gas and £0.6m transport” quote=”Over 27,200MWh of energy savings were identified through ESOS assessments. This equated to £2m in electricity, £0.2m in gas and £0.6m in transport energy spend”]

The ESOS assessment request received in October 2017, was submitted to the Environment Agency, inside four days, a full six days in advance of the deadline. A very tight turnaround (which we do not recommend!), but with full data available and buy-in from top management meant it was achievable.

One of the main learning outcomes we found, was that the smaller companies gained more new information through the energy audit process than the larger organisations. The savings identified via the energy audits were the first time a lot of the smaller companies (i.e. those just exceeding the qualification criteria) had been presented energy saving opportunities with clear payback and life cycle costs included. However, the availability of capital to invest in these opportunities was more restricted for the smaller organisations.

Our structured approach supported our success in ESOS phase one and means we enter ESOS phase two confidence of our ability to deliver ESOS compliance to an even wider range of companies.

3 Simple Ways to Make Your Office a Great Place for Your Employees

Welcome to my second blog post about the creation of an engaging workplace in a growing company. Today, I will be focusing on simple and affordable tips and tricks on how to make your office a pleasant and productive environment for your employees.

Why is this important? Providing an attractive workplace is key for employees’ health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that a well-maintained office “(..) improves employee satisfaction, and increases productivity” (The Productivity Report). We all spend so much time at work, so you want your team to feel comfortable and to enjoy being there.

Let’s get started!

Ways to Make Your Office a Great Place

1. Have a Breakout Area for Lunch to Improve Team Spirit

A typical lunch scenario in the UK is to grab a sandwich plus some crisps and eat them at your desk in front of your laptop while still answering emails. According to a study from Total Jobs, the average UK employee only takes a lunch break of 27 minutes and many skip lunch entirely.

In my opinion, this is not great for many reasons. Getting out of the office and stepping away from your desk during lunch will boost your productivity for the afternoon. Coming from Switzerland, having lunch away from your desk with colleagues is an integral part of the social life at work. Isn’t it much nicer to have an interesting conversation with your colleague while having lunch rather than eating on your own staring at your screen? It also helps to get to know your colleagues better and builds  stronger team bonds.

Stressful times don’t always allow us to take the time for a proper lunch, but if you take into account that you are much more refreshed back at work, the productivity boost easily makes up for the lost minutes.

EVORA Global office breakfast barDoes that mean you should always go to a restaurant, out of the office and spend a ton on lunch? No. What we did at EVORA is the following: when we moved offices in March 2017 (read Russ’ blog post for more), we decided to provide a breakout area for our employees. I don’t think that I exaggerate when I say that our so-called “breakfast bar” (see picture) is the heart of our office. It enables our employees to take a proper lunch break and to connect with each other on a personal level.

I am aware that square meter prices in London are crazy, but even with limited space you might be able to find a free corner in your office to create a nice little lunch area – assembling a small bar table and some stools will do the job. Believe me, it makes office life so much nicer, more interactive and your team will highly appreciate it.

Pro tip: get second-hand furniture from sites like Gumtree – it is often cheaper and better for the environment.

And keep in mind, you can also use the breakout area for other purposes like a casual meeting or a company social activity.

2. Give Your Office a Personal Touch to Build Company Identity & Culture

There are so many simple and inexpensive ways as to how you can personalise your office. Mostly, all you need is a bit of creativity, some basic stationery equipment and 15 spare minutes. Here are some ideas:

  • EVORA Global office VMVCreate a photo wall in the office. Why don’t you convert a grey room divider into a colourful board with pictures from your last summer party, after work drinks and the office mascot (yes, we have one)? Our next step: add a photo from the whole team – something we will tackle in the upcoming Christmas party.
  • Have a board for news. Why don’t you use the other side of the divider as a “What’s on at Your Company” board? Our board includes information about the monthly social, our childcare voucher scheme and much more. Plus some kitschy Christmas decoration at the moment to create a festive mood.
  • Frame and hang your mission, vision and values, so that everyone in the office can see them and is reminded of why everyone does what they do. Important: this doesn’t mean that the job is done. Showing the values etc. is a first step, but there is more hard work to it (more on this in another blog post soon).
  • Get some plants in the office. To make this even more fun, I decided to make employees godmothers and -fathers of plants. An offer they could not refuse. Their duties include to inform themselves about care instructions, to water it accordingly and to make sure to find a deputy arrangement while on holiday.

Personalising and decorating your office improves your company culture and creates a nicer environment for employees to work in. But before going crazy about it, keep in mind that prospects and clients also visit your office so make sure it is also professional.

3. Keep Your Office Organised and Tidy

EVORA Global office storageI know this doesn’t sound like as much fun as the decoration part, but it is actually very important. As Edmund Burke said: “Good order is the foundation of all things”.  A tidy and organised office will enable your team to work with focus, efficiently and productively.

If you have a hot desking office as we do, it is especially important to provide your employees a small space or drawer unit where they can store their laptop, snacks and personal belongings. Before our office move, we just had one cupboard we all had to share and even if someone tidied it up, it was messy again the next day. With the storage cabinets we have in the new office (see picture), the tidiness improved significantly.

Other than that, the best you can do is to have at least one organised person in your office. Even though you have a clean desk policy, there will always be that one person who forgets to unplug the charging cable, leaves the lip balm on the desk or fails to remember the food leftovers in the fridge. I usually do a quick office check every Friday afternoon to collect forgotten items and take a look at our fridge.

Whilst this does not sound like the job of a typical Operations Manager it highlights that in a small company everyone needs to be willing to roll up their sleeves to do work beyond their job descriptions.

One last tip – and I haven’t implemented this myself yet: collect all forgotten items in a lost and found box. Announce that everything which isn’t picked up by, let’s say the 22nd December for example, will be donated to charity.

Creating an engaging workplace is always a work in progress. What is applicable for other companies might not work for your team, so the best approach is learning by doing. Give it a try and see if it is well received by your employees.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you face similar challenges – I am always open for exchanging experiences and ideas. In my next blog post, I will write about the importance of having fun with your team. Stay tuned!

Working Smart, Working Fast: How Agile development and UX design are at the heart of SIERA

Software is one of the greatest tools of the modern world, providing us with a variety of options for any job we have at hand. When you use a software product, you want it to help you with your task as seamlessly as possible, and to address the major struggles faced. You can then focus your efforts on the task at hand, rather than the tool which is supposed to be helping you with that task.

We are all consumers of software and appreciate good UX design (User Experience) when we see it. I am sure some of us here are quite fond of unlocking our phones using our fingerprint rather than the classic 4-digit code. It makes our tasks simpler, quicker and easier.

A good tool though, comes from putting a lot of thought and effort into making it as intuitive as possible. It is through Agile Development and careful User Experience design that we shape our software product, SIERA.


Read: 110 seconds to understand how SIERA Sustainability Software can help you

Agile Development

As part of developments within the industry, and the ways we work always growing and developing, SIERA is designed in a responsive and agile format, this is called Agile Development. Though we use an overall roadmap, the team works in such a way that we can adapt areas of our time, projects, workflow and focus, to match business and client needs. Working in two-week sprints, we open the discussion for any necessary changes to project or scope, and the opportunity to reflect on current workflow practices and focus areas, adapt them, or suggest improvements as a team where needed. A team will always be growing and developing.

[clickToTweet tweet=”@SIERAsoftware is designed in a responsive and agile format, this is called Agile Development. ” quote=”SIERA is designed in a responsive and agile format, this is called Agile Development. “]

User Experience Design

Through the entire process, User Experience design plays a part amongst every area of the team, and is done by every member of the team. A software team should always have at least one member who has UX (User Experience) design as part of their job role (that’s me), a person who has the time and skills to carefully think through UX design and how this is implemented into the system. However, it is not only down to that person, every member of the team and business should have the opportunity to contribute to how things should be built and experienced, as this brings in a pool of thoughts built upon the years of expertise each team member has built up.

Discussions should be live through the entire development of a piece of software, everyone is involved early on at the inception of a piece of development or new addition to the software, and then, though the design and specification should be set early on, anyone can share their thoughts throughout the process.

This will then form together a much more well-rounded, robust and effective tool.

EVORA Global SIERA Asset Electricity profile

A fresh pair of eyes

And so, it is often very useful to get a fresh pair of eyes, when someone else looks at the same tool as you, you will often find they view it from different perspectives. As Quality Assurance Tester on SIERA, and UX Designer, I can spend a lot of time staring at SIERA, and in many ways, get used to the way it is and how it functions, so when something could be improved, as is always the case with software, it becomes less noticeable. As to me, that’s just the way it is. That is where a fresh pair of eyes is key, though I can still view the product from a good perspective, I can’t see everything, and have often found that other members of the team will raise new ideas and thoughts on the current work flows, which is amazing. A UX designer should never be left alone.

We can’t do everything, but we CAN do everything we need to… (being realistic)

We can’t do absolutely everything in life, and we all know that, but we can do everything we need to. Well with software development it’s the same. We don’t have time to implement every idea we ever think of, because it’s simply impossible, however through being realistic and honest with our time, and careful thought and prioritisation, we can achieve everything we need to; first usually as an MVP…

I hear the term MVP a lot, so what is an MVP? An MVP is a Minimum Viable Product, this is a version of the product which meets all the minimum requirements of what needs to be delivered. This takes much skill and discernment to define, and varies greatly depending on the software purpose. For example, if something needs to be functional and readable so it can be delivered to the user, then that’s the MVP, but then if it won’t be released until it looks really sharp, then that is part of the MVP as well. Keeping an MVP in mind is a good way of ensuring there isn’t time spent creating unnecessary enhancements, which can be re-prioritised and added later.


All these approaches form together to become the heart of SIERA’s robustness and effectiveness.

So, what exactly does this mean for our clients and product?

It means that SIERA can become the solution that will fill in the major gap in everyone’s workflow that is becoming a blocker, saving them time and effort, and addressing the long-term pain-points that users have been experiencing for years, then delivering these in the best way possible.

[clickToTweet tweet=”SIERA can become the solution that will fill the gap in everyone’s workflow, saving them time and effort.” quote=”SIERA can become the solution that will fill in the major gap in everyone’s workflow that is becoming a blocker, saving them time and effort”]

A good example of this is our Monitoring & Targeting system, with many companies looking for a solution to gather, store and display half hour data consumption for individual meters in an intuitive, clear and effective way, SIERA hit the market to fill in that gap. It did this through clear visual display, navigation and customisation, providing the basics of what was needed most.

Data can be compared against system overlays and user-defined overlays. The user can set operating hours for a meter, to visually differentiate when different amounts of energy should be used. The user can also set Alerts for their Meter, ensuring the user can tell when something has gone awry. All clearly displayed, as seen below.

EVORA Global SIERA Monitoring and Targeting module

As software users, users of our own product, and experienced veterans in the sustainability industry, we understand the importance of a good software and what it is this software needs to do. So, watch this space, SIERA is going to develop and evolve even more than it already has!

Have any questions about the specifics or want to find out more?
Get in touch!

Introducing EVORA Giving – Our New Series of Charitable Initiatives

No one has ever become poor by giving.”
― Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank: the play

Charity: we all know that this is the concept of ‘giving back’, but how many of us can say that the business we work for is actively involved in doing good and promoting social responsibility? Well, I am proud to announce that EVORA has implemented its own charity initiatives, which we are calling EVORA Giving.

EVORA Giving logo

For us at EVORA, when deciding which approach we wanted to take, we had to think about what we are passionate about collectively and individually, as charity means something different to all of us. We also had to consider how our approach will not just benefit humanity but also the business and our employees.

Below I have listed the four main initiatives of EVORA Giving:

1. Employee Volunteering Days: All employees have been allocated 2 days per year that they can take off work to volunteer for a charitable cause of their choice. Volunteering makes a difference, you can see real changes based on your actions, and this not only makes the recipient feel good but makes you feel good also.

2. Payroll Giving: EVORA will offer each staff member Payroll Giving to a charity of their choice. Payroll Giving, also known as Give As You Earn and is a way of giving money to a registered charity in the UK through PAYE without paying tax on it. Therefore, the charity gets the maximin benefit. The Employee decides on the amount and the charity/charities that should receive it.

3. Ad-hoc Fundraising: We will be holding one-off fundraising events for various charities throughout the year. This can be anything from Macmillan Coffee mornings, wearing red for Red Nose Day, or joining an organised event such as Race for Life.

EVORA Giving BetterBanksideThis December we have already kicked things of by getting involved in Better Bankside’s (business improvement district) Together at Christmas campaign. This involved hosting a collection box where our lovely employees donated warm clothing, festive foods and toiletries to the homeless. Once we had collected the gifts we decided to host an in-house gift wrapping session where we had some yummy mince pies, mulled wine and wrapped all the gifts to some cheesy Christmas music. The gifts are then collected by Better Bankside and go out for delivery to a variety of charities.

Next week, we will be getting involved in Christmas Jumper Day by donning on our ugliest, silliest and woolliest jumpers in order to raise money for Save the Children. Keep an eye on our social media channels for photos of our staff in their festive attire.

4. Corporate Sponsorship: Corporate sponsorship of a chosen charity for a 12-month period. Starting in January 2018, we will be sponsoring one UK registered charity through corporate sponsorship for a 12-month period. We have put together a working group to help set up fundraising events and come up with some fun and inventive ideas to raise money for a worthy cause. At the end of the year we will then choose another charity that we can support and keep this going on rotation basis.

After the Christmas holidays, we will be announcing our chosen charity in a new blog post, so please stay tuned for the big reveal!

I hope you have enjoyed this post. We will keep you updated with all our fundraising events so please watch this space for more information…!

ESOS Phase 2 – time to start planning!

It is now just two years to the day until the ESOS Phase 2 compliance deadline of 5 December 2019. Don’t be complacent – two years might sound like a long time away, but you will save time, stress, and money if you start taking action now by carrying out energy audits. Read on!

The Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have jointly advised organisations that they should all start now carrying out energy audits as part of the compliance process for ESOS Phase 2.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Just two years to go until ESOS Phase 2 compliance deadline – start carrying out energy audits now!” quote=”With just two years to go until ESOS Phase 2 compliance deadline – start carrying out energy audits now!”]

With only a few exemptions for public bodies, the regulations require all other large UK organisations to take three important steps before the compliance date of 5 December 2019 for ESOS Phase 2:

  1. measure their total energy consumption;
  2. conduct audits to identify cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities; and
  3. report compliance to their national scheme administrator – the Environment Agency in England, SEPA in Scotland, NIEA in Northern Ireland and NRW in Wales.

Consideration should also be given at this early stage as to whether adopting an approved energy management system such as ISO50001 may be a more suitable route to achieving compliance (ISO50001 is the internationally recognised standard for best practice in energy management).

If you plan to implement ISO5001, then early action is definitely required. Alternatively organisations caught under the ESOS regulations should now start conducting audits to identify their cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities for ESOS Phase 2.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Organisations should start conducting audits to identify energy efficiency opportunities for Phase 2″ quote=”Organisations should now start conducting audits to identify their cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities for Phase 2″]

Early action should avoid some of the issues and that occurred during the first phase of ESOS. According to Carbon Trust, around 2,800 organisations had to send notifications advising that they would be late in reporting compliance, and a number were ultimately fined.

Carbon Trust also reported that of the hundreds of compliance audits conducted for Phase 1, it was found that that just 16 percent of participants were fully compliant. A full three-quarters of audited participants needed to undertake remedial actions in order to become compliant.

A full three-quarters of audited participants needed to undertake remedial actions in order to become compliant.

The Environment Agency has also indicated that in England there were approximately 500 organisations that qualified for ESOS in the first phase but had not engaged with the scheme. There have been over 300 enforcement notifications sent out to date, more will be going out in the near future. Civil penalty proceedings have also been commenced against a number of non-compliant organisations.

During the first phase of ESOS, EVORA helped a number of organisations to comply with the regulation and we would concur with the Carbon trust’s reported findings that cost-effective measures could usually cut energy costs in buildings, transport fleets and industrial processes by about 20 percent.

ESOS reports have been proven to identify real energy saving opportunities. Good governance requires that Directors consider the report recommendations.

Further reading on ESOS:

ESOS Phase 2 Practical Hints and Tips

The EVORA team is ready to support you with ESOS Phase 2 compliance. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to learn more.