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Recapping The Energy Institute’s ‘Energy Management-Meeting the Standard’ Conference

Attending conferences can sometimes be a hit and miss affair in this industry. After frequenting a few of these events, both in my current role as a sustainability consultant and in my previous career as an environmental manager in the construction sector, I am all too wary of how easily these events can turn into a series of sales pitches provided by various companies presenting.

I needn’t have worried, the conference, run by the Energy Institute, involved a series of half hour talks from various sectors on a wide variety of energy related topics, all of which were 100% relevant to EVORA and more importantly, our clients.

The talks provided valuable snapshots of the great work being undertaken under the umbrella of energy efficiency and also provided some solid information on the impacts of regulations and policies.

Here is a summary of key points.

 

Article 8 Across Europe

Dr Martin Krusker of Siemens was asked, “who has implemented the requirements of Article 8 the best across Europe?”

Answer, the UK. The opinion of ESOS across the UK varies widely (some organisations considered it a pure legal compliance requirement whilst others saw a real opportunity to drive improvement) and, as a result, I was not expecting this response. From my experience, I felt that many of the smaller organisations just captured by the scheme found it a burden. There is also the issue, the white elephant in the room, that nobody has to action anything identified within ESOS audits….

The Environment Agency were consistently vocal in their opinion that thousands of businesses were going to be non-compliant – even though, as far as I’m aware there have been no penalties served, as yet, on these businesses.

However, it seems that in comparison to the remainder of Europe the UK did a stand-out job. Nevertheless, it is clear we should not rest on our achievements, there is plenty to improve upon during the next compliance phase.

 

Progression with ISO50001

The ISO50001 Standard is to undergo review to align with the high level structure of other recently revised standards (ISO14001:2015 and ISO9001:2015). The expectation is that this will be issued in January 2019 with a three-year implementation period.  If you want to get involved in the process of re-drafting the ISO50001 Standard, keep your eyes peeled for further updates on the EVORA website.

In Germany there is a tax incentive scheme for businesses which introduce ISO50001. Take-up of ISO50001 in Germany is therefore much higher than the rest of the world, Germany on its own accounts for more than 50% of all ISO50001 certifications. With Germany already being ahead of the UK in terms of renewable energy and pro-active energy policies it is yet another example of innovative policy making that results in German companies taking more responsibility in managing their energy consumption. I hope someday that the UK government will take as positive a stance as their German counterparts.

 

Energy Markets and Private Wire Systems

Talking about energy market costs culminated in a discussion on the potential of private wire systems to negate the continual rise of energy cost ‘add-ons’.

Historically, energy costs were made up of 60% the actual cost of a unit of energy with 40% added on for extras such as availability charges, demand charges, feed in tariff, climate change levy, distribution costs and so on. However, we are now moving to a point where this proportion is reversed, with 60% of energy costs being from ‘add-ons’, therefore the fluctuation in the actual cost of energy is making up less than half of the total cost of energy.

A private wire system removes these ‘add-ons’. Although only generally applicable to large demand energy users located in feasible areas, the opportunity to tap into local renewable energy projects in order to save costs and use a renewable supply is becoming an attractive option to some. This could become a viable option for some businesses if the proportion of ‘add-ons’ in energy costs continue to grow towards an unsustainable level.

 

Thoughts for the Future

These were just three of many talking points of the day. Although the next ESOS compliance deadline may seem like a distant worry, this event served as a reminder of the importance in determining how you can get the best out of a proactive energy management strategy (and value for money!)

However, as sustainability professionals we must lead by example and the venue was a timely reminder that there really is a long way to go before sustainability is naturally embedded. The conference room included multiple large halogen lights giving off vast amounts of heat combatted by huge industrial fans for cooling leading to a stuffy energy intensive bubble. A considerable faux pas for an energy management conference! Additionally, the travel information provided prior to the event listed detailed car directions, car parking facilities and airport links (with details of taxi journey lengths) before even mentioning train or bus options. Without joined up thinking and understanding, sustainability will never become the norm.

The event lasted for a day, but the topics discussed will be key themes in the sustainability arena for years to come.

For information on the services EVORA can provide please do not hesitate to get in touch today.


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Why MEES is Changing Behaviour Two Years Ahead of the Compliance Date

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations will make it unlawful from April 2018 to let buildings in England and Wales which do not achieve a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E. This will initially apply to new lettings and renewals only, but from 2023 will apply to all existing leases as well.

John Alker, Director of Policy and Communications at the UKGBC stated that MEES is “The single most significant piece of legislation to affect our existing building stock in a generation”. I would certainly agree with this on a number of levels.

But doesn’t MEES have its flaws?

YES!

Firstly, the minimum standard is based on an EPC rating but as we know, EPCs are renowned for their lack of correlation to actual energy performance and that, as a commoditised service, quality diminished significantly putting into question the accuracy and usefulness of many EPCs.  Note that the Government is aware of this issue and has entered into a consultation process designed to improve quality assurance of EPC assessments.

Secondly, EPC calculations are linked to building regulations, so as regulations get tougher, so does the ability to achieve a decent rating making MEES a moving target. Many have suggested that EPCs produced pre 2011, if re-modelled now, could be up to two ratings lower. If correct, this could potentially see in excess of 30% of building stock, at risk to 2018 regulations.

However, this is not what we are experiencing, primarily due to the poor quality of many existing EPCs. As an example, EVORA recently re-evaluated shopping centre units with an EPC ratings E – G, where the rental value of these units exceeded 75% of the total ERV of the scheme. The original EPCs were of poor quality, as shown through the use of defaults. By completing accurate EPCs, EVORA was able to secure at least a D rating and therefore mitigating MEES risks for the next 10 years.

It is also not yet clear what the future trajectory will be for the minimum standard, although it is possible that this will be raised come 2023. This makes refurbishment planning challenging for landlords, who generally work on ten year cycles.

Finally, there are a number of exemptions, not least the requirement to have the consent all of tenants, which is surely a get out of jail free card for any landlord.

MEES and Behavioural Change

Despite these flaws and challenges we are seeing a significant change in behaviour well in advance of the 2018 compliance date. This shouldn’t be a surprise. MEES has the real potential to adversely impact many key value drivers including occupancy, rental growth, liquidity, cost of finance and yield on sale.

Greater Rigour Required

As such, it is focusing minds to ensure EPCs are carried out professionally and with rigour, whilst taking steps to understand portfolio risk supported by an appropriate strategy to mitigate.

As an example, more sophisticated energy modelling is being undertaken using Dynamic Simulation software packages to ensure the accuracy of EPCs and to better understand the opportunities to improve both energy performance and the EPC rating. We are currently supporting Hines on a major refurbishment in Canary Wharf, providing energy simulation modelling to ensure the design intent improves both the energy efficiency of the building as well as the EPC rating.

Understanding your MEES Risk

In addition, we are regularly using sophisticated sustainability management software such as SIERA on behalf of our clients, to analyse EPC ratings, lease events and ERVs together to understand and profile MEES risk.

Collaboration is going to be Essential

Ironically, rather than being a get out of jail free card, lack of consent by the occupiers, possibly due to business interruption issues, could impact on asset management plans to improve the overall EPC rating to ensure future marketability and to prevent possible price chipping on sale. This is also an issue for FRI assets where there is no legal right to gain access, but improvements may be necessary to achieve a minimum rating, prior to lease expiry to enable the property to be marketed to minimise the risk of void periods. These issues will drive the need for greater collaboration between landlord and tenant.

Improvement vs repairing obligations and what about dilapidations…?

Collaboration will also be key if the landlord intends to replace M&E equipment with more energy efficient kit, ahead of the end of its useful life, and is seeking the tenants to share in the costs or to recover fully through the service charge. The cost benefits to the tenants will need to be clearly articulated to get their engagement.

Staying on the theme of replacing kit, this is likely to have an impact on dilapidations where the landlord may require more energy efficient equipment to meet MEES regulations but the issue of improvement vs repairing obligations will arise. Again, collaboration and forward discussions will be key.

New lease terms?

New lease terms (notice my omission of ‘green’ which generally makes tenants and letting agents run a mile) could become the norm, specifically to bar alterations that adversely affect an EPC rating. But policing such terms will be a challenge.  Does this, for example, mean that every planned tenant fit-out or even minor alteration, has to be fully modelled to assess the impact on the EPC rating – possibly.

There are many other issues and challenges associated with the impending MEES legislation and whilst it is far from perfect it offers an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency and resilience of your assets and engage in long term communication and collaboration with your tenants. Surely that can’t be a bad thing!

How can EVORA support you?

EVORA can support you in understanding the upcoming MEES regulations, help you profile your MEES risk using our sustainability management software, SIERA and provide professional support in delivering and improving the EPC ratings for your assets.

EVORA is participating in a select group to provide industry guidance to DECC on the future of MEES regulations.

For further information or guidance on MEES please contact Ed Gabbitas: egabbitas@evoraglobal.com or 07557 529 106


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EU Referendum and the Environment: The Final Few Days

On Thursday the 23rd of June, the UK will decide on its membership of the European Union. Thus far, it has been a closely fought debate with arguments presented by the Brexit and Remain campaigns. One key discussion point is the future of the legislative landscape for the environmental sector. This touches on the built environment and wildlife, as well as climate change targets. On the whole, there is consensus that voters lacked information throughout the period leading up to the referendum to take sustainability and the environmental issues into account.

Drawing on a survey of key professionals within the industry, the latest webinar held by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) suggested that:

  • Sustainability professionals thought the EU provides greater stability for environmental policy;
  • The UK is a leader on environmental and climate change policy;
  • The EU presents opportunities for the circular economy and fosters collaboration

In a similar way, the Institute of European Environmental Policy (IEEP) concluded in its latest report, “Potential Policy and Environmental Implications for the UK of a departure from the EU” that the UK’s environmental policy has been partly influenced by its EU membership. The IEEP argued that Brexit would trigger uncertainty unless the UK had alternatives in place. Going forward, the UK will need to review its environmental policy and significant transformations are set to take place.

The legislative landscape will be crucial to spur investment within the industry. In relation to real estate, links between property value and sustainability performance have already been established and this realisation will be further supported through environmental legislation. The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has recently commented on the possible impacts of the outcome of the EU referendum, with those requirements linked to the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) expected to be affected the most. This includes the Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme, which are linked to the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED).

What is most certain are the unknown consequences of the EU referendum. Environmental and climate change consequences for the built environment and relevant legislation will be key areas of change.

Burns et al (2016) presents a summary of the scenarios and uncertainty levels. It is clear that the leave scenario presents the greatest uncertainty, with the potential of key transformations in the UK’s environmental policy. It seems that sustainability professionals must await on the side-lines as the debate draws to a close.

Table 1 The EU Referendum and the UK Environment (Burns et al, 2016)

Whatever the outcome, specific legislation within the UK, such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) coupled with the potential of a reformed legislative landscape means that all businesses operating within the built environment must be prepared for all eventualities. Sustainability and productivity within the built environment are valued globally not least in the business sense, but on a social level as well.

As for EVORA, regardless of the outcome, we are well positioned to navigate our clients through the post-EU referendum environment. With offices in the UK and Europe and a depth of knowledge within the industry, we will continue to help our clients manage their risks and realise the business case for sustainability.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any sustainability issues, please contact our experts today, who will be happy to advise you on the best course of action.

Links:

http://www.iema.net/event-reports/2016/06/16/the-environment-and-the-eu-referendum/

http://www.ieep.eu/assets/2000/IEEP_Brexit_2016.pdf

http://ukandeu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Executive-summary-EU-referendum-UK-environment.pdf

Burns, C., A. Jordan, V. Gravey, N. Berny, S. Bulmer, N. Carter, R. Cowell, J. Dutton, B. Moore S. Oberthür, S. Owens, T. Rayner, J. Scott and B. Stewart (2016) The EU Referendum and the UK Environment: An Expert Review. How has EU membership affected the UK and what might change in the event of a vote to Remain or Leave? Executive Summary

http://www.ukgbc.org/news/uk-gbc-comment-eu-referendum

(Photo: Rock Cohen, Flickr Creative Commons)


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EVORA Announces Russ Avery As New Marketing Director

I am delighted to announce that Russ Avery has joined EVORA’s management team as its new Marketing Director. He will be based in our London office in Vauxhall and will be responsible for all of our marketing and communications activities, as we look to significantly increase the building of our brand and our market presence.

Russ joins us from Carbon Credentials, where he held the role of Marketing & Communications Manager for the last four years. Prior to that, Russ worked with SeaWeb, an international ocean conservation communications charity, supporting them to deliver their communications strategy.

Over the last five years, EVORA has grown to be a leading provider of pan-European sustainability solutions to the real estate sector with offices in London, Manchester and Berlin. Our passion and focus to deliver innovative yet practical solutions has seen the development of SIERA, our market-leading sustainability software, as well as a unique energy focused M&E consultancy, delivering resource efficiency and long-term resilience to major property portfolios.

We’re thrilled that Russ has decided to join EVORA at such an exciting phase in our growth. As well as sharing our values and passion for sustainability, Russ brings a real clarity of strategic vision coupled with an ability to tactically deliver, making him a perfect fit for EVORA and he will complement our already strong management team.

“I am delighted to be joining EVORA as Marketing Director at this exciting stage of the company’s growth,” says Russ. “I’m eager to build upon the strong foundation that has been laid by Chris, Paul, Ed and the rest of the team over the last five years.

I look forward to helping EVORA to expand its work in both the UK and Europe, leveraging relationships with existing clients and partners alike in order to continue helping commercial real estate firms to exploit the many benefits of being a sustainable business. I’m particularly excited about marketing SIERA, our excellent sustainability management software, which has thus far been an inadvertently well-kept secret!

I hope that those already familiar with EVORA will see a step change in the way we communicate and market our brand, and that those in the commercial real estate sector who have not yet heard of us quickly become aware of our industry-leading consultancy services and software solution.” 

Russ can be contacted on 020 3326 7333 and ravery@evoraglobal.com


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Changes to the 2016 GRESB Survey- Part Two

This is the second part to our blog on notable changes to the 2016 GRESB survey.

Pilot Indicators

Six new Pilot Indicators have been included in the 2016 survey. These are indicators that are not scored this year, but will be included in 2017. This level of transparency is a great method of promoting action and allowing participants to respond to a range of environmental impacts not currently scored by GRESB. Pilot indicators include completion of assessments to measure and improve water efficiency, waste management and health and well-being. Tracking the impact and uptake of green clauses also features.

Health and Well-being

GRESB has released a new Health and Well-being module in recognition of the rapidly emerging and important area of opportunity for the real estate industry. The module seeks, firstly, to address efforts to promote health & well-being of the employees responsible for real estate entities and secondly, to address efforts to provide products and services that promote health & well-being of tenants and/or customers.

A 2014 report issued by the World Green Building Council identified that staff costs typically account for about 90% of business operating costs; rental costs 9% and utilities 1%. The report identifies the “overwhelming evidence which demonstrates that the design of an office impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of its occupants” –productivity improvements of up to 11% are identified as achievable where good indoor air quality conditions are maintained at recommended standards.

This is clearly an area that needs greater focus and GRESB has taken steps to start addressing the topic. It is noteworthy that some organisations are demonstrating leadership on this issue, but the message (and actions to be taken) needs to reach the masses.

New Assessments

In addition to the health and well-being module, three new separate assessments have been released:

  • GRESB Developer Assessment – for organisations that develop projects or acquire properties exclusively for redevelopment and resale.
  • GRESB Infrastructure Assessment – for assessing infrastructure assets and funds, such as airports, railways, ports, waste/water and energy management facilities.
  • GRESB Real Estate Debt assessment – launched in 2015 to private real estate funds, the 2016 survey is open to banks, life companies, pension funds and mortgage REITs, in addition to real estate debt funds.

Asset Level Interface

Although not new to the 2016 survey, using the asset interface as a way of entering data is a tool that we recommend highly. The Asset Level Interface provides significant advantages over manual upload. For example, data outlier (validation) checks are made prior to upload. Automation reduces the risk of errors and the response speed to data queries is quicker and more specific. These are all important benefits as erroneous or unexplainable data will receive zero points. We are using our SIERA software platform to deliver this, which simplified the GRESB process enormously in 2015, delivering significant efficiencies.

More on SIERA

Overall, changes in the 2016 GRESB survey appear progressive in supporting the long term aim of improving Environmental, Social and Governance impacts within real estate. As stated in the first blog, the key to scoring well in GRESB remains the same:

  1. Plan your strategy based on current and future risks and opportunities.
  2. Prioritise delivery according to the value proposition.
  3. Measure and report the ongoing impact.
  4. Review new risks and opportunities and repeat from step 1.

GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

Changes to the 2016 GRESB Survey- Part One

The GRESB 2016 Real Estate survey was released on 1st April and with it came the detailed (231 page) reference guide. GRESB has always been transparent about the categorisation and scoring of their indicators, which is useful if you have the time and inclination to go through those 231 pages. In this first blog of two, I have set out my thoughts on the more notable changes.

Increased focus on performance

GRESB’s goal is to “provide investors with the ESG information they need to make more informed investment decisions“. You can’t knock this goal, but there are questions as to how GRESB portfolio level assessments can provide investors  with sufficient information at the asset level. That said, GRESB scores clearly indicate how sustainability has been incorporated into participant business strategies.

GRESB results can be analysed and broken down in a number of ways.  However, fundamentally GRESB assesses sustainability across two broad levels (or dimensions as GRESB calls them):

  1. Management and Policy – a measure of the intent of your ESG programme
  2. Implementation and Measurement – a measure of the impact and performance the intent is delivering.

The GRESB quadrant is shown in the Figure 1 below.

 

Participants scoring more than 50% in both dimensions are placed within the Green Star quadrant. Lower than 50% in both dimensions places you within the Green Starter quadrant. A strong Management and Policy score but weak Implementation and Measurement score results in a Green Talk score (i.e. you have good intent but it is not backed up by performance). Conversely, a strong Implementation and Measurement score but weak Management and Policy score results in a Green Walk score (i.e. you have good performance but seemingly no co-ordinated management structure behind it).

In general, participants score better in Management and Policy (2015 global average 63%) compared to Implementation and Measurement (2015 global average 52%). This is to be expected – it is relatively easy to develop plans and policies, the biggest challenge lies in achieving the results.

The global average result in 2015 for all participates was Green Star (the best rating).  To put it another way, more than half of participants achieved this GRESB rating. This has led to criticism of the GRESB scoring mechanism, as it was seen as too easy to achieve a Green Star, without performance being sufficiently scrutinised. In the 2016 survey, the overall weighting for Implementation and Management (or performance) has increased by 2 percentage points from 70% to 72%. The goal posts have shifted.

The increased focus on performance may well be significant, particularly noting the 2015 global average Implementation and Measurement score was 52% in 2015. The 2% weighted increase for Implementation and Measurement could see a large group of borderline participants shift from the Green Star quadrant to the Green Talk quadrant,

Participants should expect a greater scoring emphasis on Implementation and Measurement to continue in the future. Current participants will need to maintain forward thinking ESG strategies that deliver results to keep pace. New participants may find themselves significantly behind the curve on first submission (fortunately a grace period provides anonymity in the first year’s submission). Wherever you are in your sustainability journey, it is clear that neither complacency nor inactivity is an option.

In the second part of this blog, I will highlight the key changes to the Real Estate assessment and also introduce new GRESB assessments and modules.

Regardless of the changes introduced by GRESB, our message to achieving an impact driven Environmental, Social and Governance strategy remains the same:

  1. Plan your strategy based on current and future risks and opportunities.
  2. Prioritise delivery according to the value proposition.
  3. Measure and report the ongoing impact.
  4. Review new risks and opportunities and repeat from step 1.

 

To read Part 2 of this blog, click here.


As a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.

Reflecting on ESOS: The EVORA Experience

Over the last six months, EVORA has supported a broad range of clients to meet ESOS requirements. Through our support programmes we have engaged with 27 companies from Real Estate to a Big Six energy provider.

Energy spend assessed equated to £55m and saving opportunities of £2.8m (5.2%)  where identified (this equated to 27,000 MWh per annum).

ESOS routes to compliance

It was also interesting to explore the ESOS routes to compliance. From an analysis of all ESOS participants and responses to the notification questions (excluding personal data) across the UK and a selection of industry sectors, 65% of the notifications were made during or after December 2015.

The breakdown by compliance routes was as follows:

  • ISO 50001 – 0.9%
  • DECs – 5.3%
  • Green Deal – 0.2%
  • Audits -90%
  • De Minimus – 3.6%

Audits formed the main route to compliance; although ISO 50001 could become a popular option in the future.

EVORA predicts an increase in the take-up of ISO 50001, although significant time investment is required. This reflects the opportunities that energy management system frameworks present for target-setting and monitoring for continual improvement in the long-term.

How about transport?

This is often neglected since traditionally businesses have focused on health & safety when considering travel. Many opportunities exist including training, installation of tracking-systems, promotion of alternatives to travel including video conferencing and introduction of site-specific green travel plans. Focusing on transport could present new ways to achieve significant energy and cost reductions.

Please check out our Reflecting on ESOS: The Next Steps article for more on our reflections on ESOS and the next steps going forward.

For more information, Paul Sutcliffe will be speaking at the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) ESOS Showcase Event in London on the 15th of March. The link to the event can be found on the website: http://www.ukgbc.org/event/esos-showcase

Stay tuned for further updates on the energy efficiency taxation review budget on the 16th of March.

70% of organisations on the road to ESOS compliance

Latest figures from the Environment Agency show 6000 organisations have ESOS compliance.

In the two days before 29 January deadline, the agency received a further 1,015 notifications of compliance. This last-minute action reflected earlier fears of a slow start to compliance by organisations covered by the scheme.

More information via The Environmentalist

DECC launches Energy Innovation Consultation

A new consultation published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change invites the energy sector to contribute thoughts and ideas to encourage innovation across the sector.

The consultation is open until 11th February and asks the following three questions:

  • How can legislation and enforcement frameworks help support new technologies and business models to encourage growth?
  • How is new technology likely to shape the energy sector?
  • How can regulators better utilise new technologies to generate energy savings and reduce burdens on business?

The final Innovation Plan will be published in spring 2016.

More information via Business Green.

The Value of Sustainability in Commercial Buildings

Our Managing Director, Chris Bennett, in interview with BRE Conferences considering some of the key sustainability issues for investors ahead of the 40 Percent Symposium.

Catch Chris at the 40 Percent Symposium on 18 November 2015.