Closing up for Christmas? Merry energy saving!

Christmas is just around the corner and hopefully none of us will be spending it in the office, especially given it’s on a Saturday this year!

So once the festive greetings are exchanged and the last ‘out of office’ has gone on we’ve got some hints and tips to save energy in your buildings over the holidays.

  • Reset controls – Who knows what temperature wars have gone on with the cold coming in and people being off at different times, use the holiday season as an opportunity to review tenant control panels with minimum disruption. Think of it as new year, new you, new set points.
  • Switch off the lights – Yes, including the Christmas ones. The streets are lit up all nice and shiny, your office doesn’t need to be.
  • Reduce fresh air delivery – Unless you have demand-driven systems chances are that you’ll be bringing in as much fresh air as possible into the building because of COVID-19. We’re not suggesting you take any risks in that regard (nobody wants the virus as a Christmas present) but if occupancy is very low try reducing the fresh air delivery rate or the run hours if the building is going to be unoccupied for long periods.
  • Shut down central plant – As a minimum central plant need not run on the national holidays and your buildings may be shut for even longer periods so get plant switched off. The majority of BMS front-end systems will allow you to set exceptions for specific days so that everything returns to the normal setup after all the festivities are over.
  • Turn off / turn down radiators – The weather outside may be frightful but that doesn’t mean you need the radiators on in an empty building. Any manually-controlled radiators around the building will continue to heat unless you turn down the thermostats or switch off the LTHW system centrally.
  • Check frost protection settings – Who knows, we may get a white Christmas still, so make sure frost protection settings are adequate. EVORA recommends these be set to 10°C.

Merry Christmas from all of us at EVORA!

Energy Optimisation Resolutions for 2021

A new year presents plenty of opportunities for development, not just for ourselves, but also for the good of the planet. As we go into another quiet spell at the start of 2021, there is an ideal opportunity to implement key operational improvements to buildings.

According to the last UK Government Building Energy Efficiency Survey [1] undertaken in 2016, approximately 67% of energy consumption in commercial assets was used to provide lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water. Therefore, substantial potential for savings could be achieved through basic optimisation of these components.

Often low cost and easily implementable, operational optimisations can have a significant impact without the need for substantial investment. EVORA therefore presents a brief look into the top 5 quick wins for energy optimisation in 2021 – some further new years resolutions if you will.

1. Time for a change

Returning to business as usual at workplaces after an eventful 2020 presents an opportunity for optimising asset timing controls and setting clear standards. Knowing when to start up HVACs or equipment that keeps a building functional can help increase overall efficiency.

Of course, every building is different, and the day-to-day demands can vary massively, but implementing appropriate timings not only cuts unnecessary wastage with reduced hours or lower occupancy, but allows for identification of anomalies when something goes awry. It can even shape future energy use strategies as shown below if communicated to occupants properly.

An example in Figure 1 from Resource Efficient Scotland [2] displays a heating profile for a property where gradually phasing the operations of heating equipment can maintain a suitable temperature throughout the whole day. This is opposed to a continuous block of consumption from open to close. Therefore, savings can be made without impacting on comfort levels by correctly identifying the timings when heating can be switched on and phased out.

Figure 1 – Heating system output and building temperature with phased timings.

Tenant engagement is a powerful tool here as well, and communication with tenants that are reopening in 2021 will be key to an evolving timing control strategy as people head back to their desks, as well as keeping them consistent.

2. Setting goals

An efficient HVAC system provides good temperature and environmental conditions while using the minimum amount of energy to condition a space, however this is just the first step for buildings.

Making sure building set points are clear, well communicated and kept consistent is an important factor, as various building users will have different preferences for optimal temperatures. But to operate efficiently simple consistent set points are key. By engaging tenants and communicating common building set points, any expectations can be managed, and service levels agreed. Consistency in set points also helps support major energy saving actions such as fresh air cooling in the winter.

3. Not so tight

Implementing a temperature ‘dead band’ is another useful tool to help reduce consumption as we return to places of work, as often energy is wasted due to simultaneous heating and cooling systems competing to maintain temperature set points.

A dead band is essentially a ‘comfort zone’ where the system for heating and cooling can be relaxed. For example, a 3-4°C dead band around a setpoint of 20°C produces a temperature zone preventing the HVAC system from bouncing quickly between heating and cooling, meeting the set temperature until a significant change is required. Not only does this reduce the strain on HVAC equipment, but also keeps occupants happy and increase energy savings. It also has the added benefit of increasing the lifespan of equipment, as demand is far lower for the long run.

An illustration of a dead band can be found below in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Dead band set up around a central temperature set point [3]

4. What happens after dark?

Carefully scrutinising energy loads outside of office hours and identifying when and why consumption is occurring is another strong technique to reduce unwanted energy consumption. Sometimes equipment is left on overnight after a change to business hours and it all adds up in the grand scheme of things. Arranging engineers to stay behind and take note of what is running in the small hours and breaking it down by landlord or tenant consuming equipment provides opportunities for engagement to reduce load and make note of what is essential.

Furthermore, identifying what key equipment is operating out of hours can also help shape strategies for future reductions in consumption. If key operations can be reduced over time in terms of run time or frequency, baseload too can be gradually lowered to a new target, which year on year can be improved upon. The best results for this type of work are supported by active management and data analysis, something that EVORA employs in its Monitoring and Target (M&T) service line.

As we head back to the office, EVORA would recommend investigating baseloads over the periods of low occupation and aim to maintain or improve on them as occupancy returns in 2021.

5. Seasonal strategies

Seasonality is another factor that should be considered. Formulating effective plans for energy reduction crucially relies on how they are implemented on an ongoing and dynamic basis over the course of the year. This includes engaging with tenants and understanding that the indoor temperature will fluctuate instead of trying to achieve a single temperature set point all year. This will support the efficient operation of the plant by optimising the indoor temperature to the external environment. Similar seasonal strategies for external and car park lighting can also be implemented for best practice, changing timed controls to suit the needs of occupants, but also to reduce consumption.

Supporting you through 2021

Implementing these quick wins as well as numerous other strategies to lower energy consumption may require an extra helping hand, as uncertainty remains around heading back to workplaces. EVORA Global has an expert Building Optimisation Team of engineers and consultants who are experienced in energy management and building optimisation, and regardless of the turbulent times we are always here to advise and guide towards a sustainable future for real estate.

For more information on the services provided by the Building Optimisation Team, please contact


[1] Building Energy Efficiency Survey (BEES), 2016

[2] How to save money and energy on space heating – Advice and support for organisations in Scotland, Resource Efficient Scotland, 2015

[3] Heating, ventilation and air conditioning – Saving energy without compromising comfort, Carbon Trust, 2011

Chillers and record breaking heat

It seems appropriate that EVORA EDGE spent the hottest day of the year so far (the hottest day on record in some parts of the country) co-ordinating the replacement of a chiller on the roof of a multi-storey office in Birmingham.

Chillers are guaranteed to cause facilities managers problems during heatwaves. This is because they are complex pieces of equipment which are difficult to maintain properly, expensive to replace and run and, unlike heating, usually only needed for a small amount of time each year in the UK. The temptation is always to push chillers down the priority list in any planned preventative maintenance schedule.

Yet in those weeks when the mercury soars, chillers become the only piece of equipment in a building that matters. If they are old, or poorly maintained, they will not cope with such sudden spikes in temperatures as we saw last week.

It is not unheard of for large office buildings to have to be evacuated because chillers have buckled under the pressure when temperatures hit 30°C. Such incidents are not popular amongst tenants.

In the building in Birmingham, the air-cooled chiller had failed repeatedly over the course of the year.

The decision to replace it had already been made but it takes months to co-ordinate chiller replacements. It requires the preparation of detailed specifications, designs and the running of tender processes. It also needs careful project management to ensure equipment delivery times, permissions and road closures for crane lifts are all co-ordinated so they seamlessly fit together and keep disruption to a minimum. Schedules cannot be changed to fit weather forecasts.

EVORA EDGE’s Operations Director, Neil Dady explains: “Although we still had one operational chiller serving the building we knew that any high temperatures would cause problems and potential failures in the air-conditioning.

“The replacement was scheduled for July. As we watched the temperature soaring in mid-July the project team had to swiftly come up with a contingency plan. We provided temporary cooling and used the fresh air handling units to deliver cooler air overnight while extending plant operating times.”

The pressure was on the appointed contractor S&G Air Conditioning Contracts to ensure the replacement did not overrun and the new chiller was able to be commissioned swiftly.

In the end it all worked like clockwork and the new chiller was quickly in operation. The facilities manager and all those working inside the building can now watch future summer weather forecasts with calm equanimity.

Do heat waves cause problems in your building? Contact EVORA EDGE for detailed audits and risk assessments of equipment as well as project management of chiller replacements on or phone on +44 (0)1743 341903.

Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050: a Green Revolution

Bold Ambition? UK to Legislate 2050 Net-Zero carbon target.

Last night, Theresa May, in one of her final acts as UK Prime Minister, pledged to take on board recommendations from the Committee on Climate Change to establish a legally binding net-zero target by 2050.

The approach, proposed today (Wednesday 12 June 2019), would see the UK become the first member of the G7 group of countries to legislate for net zero emissions.

This is a bold commitment. It is a (in our view exciting) response to increased public awareness of environmental issues and the dangers faced from a ‘climate emergency’.

This follows parliament’s declaration of a climate change emergency back at the start of May and Theresa May’s determination to leave a positive legacy after she steps down from the role of Prime Minister.

Whilst this is an exciting step, there is a lot to do and 2050 is just over 30 years away.  The strategy and the means to deliver on this target is yet to be determined. Key questions include:

  • How will it be financed?
  • What technologies will be given priority?
  • And what will the role be of international carbon credits? Net Zero plans will allow the offsetting of emissions.  Control is needed to prevent and avoid loopholes

Some of the negative press about the plan focuses on cost. The Treasury has indicated that is will cost £1 trillion. However, this misses the point. Calculations don’t, for example, consider the uplift in the green economy for example. And in even simpler terms, the long term costs of not doing anything are far greater.

This is just the beginning of this new phase of tackling climate change, it isn’t a silver bullet and there is much detail to agree for an effective strategy to be set in place. Time will tell, but for now, I am going to be positive.

It really does feel like we are turning the corner.

Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting – What does it mean for you?

Since its initial announcement in 2016, the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has been working on a new framework to simplify the complicated environmental reporting landscape that exists currently. What they came up with is known as the “Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting Framework” (SECR).

Following an extensive consultation process, which EVORA took part in, the Government recently confirmed the details of how the framework will look. Under the new legislation:

  • All quoted companies will be required to report their UK energy use, associated Scope 1 & 2 emissions (in simple terms, covering electricity and gas use), an intensity metric and, where applicable, global energy use in their Annual Reports.
  • All “large” unquoted companies will be required to report their UK energy use, associated scope 1 & 2 emissions, and an intensity metric in their Annual Reports.
  • All “large” LLPs will be required to report similar to Unquoted Companies in their Annual Reports.
  • Unregistered companies required to prepare a Directors’ Report will also need to include similar information to unquoted companies.

The framework will be applied through Companies House, which means there are no requirements for non-UK registered companies. Meanwhile, the Companies House definition of “large” will be applied (i.e. when two or more of the following are true: 250 employees or more, annual turnover of £36mil or more, annual balance sheet of £18mil or more).

The Timescale:

The legislation takes effect on April 1st 2019 and applies to any financial reporting years starting on or after this date. This means the first SECR reports will need to be filed in 2020.

How we can help:

Here at EVORA, we have significant experience in the collation, management, and analysis of ESG data.

Through use of our bespoke ESG data management software, SIERA, and the support of our team of expert consultants we can fully manage the delivery of your annual SECR Report from start to finish, and help you use this information as the basis for a broader ESG strategy that will maximise value from the SECR process and deliver transformative change for your Company.

If you have further questions or are seeking assistance with your environmental reporting, get in touch and our team of experts will be happy to help.

Speak to EVORA today about SECR reporting and an accompanying ESG strategy that will help maximise value from the process

Clean Energy for all Europeans Package: future implications for the real estate sector

On the 13th of November the European Parliament adopted new targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy generation as part of its wider package of clean energy initiatives.

The “Clean Energy for all Europeans Package” aims at moving towards a renewable future with reduced dependence on coal, gas and oil. The new agreements adopted this week target a 32.5% energy consumption by 2030, as well as requiring 32% of energy spend be on renewably sourced energy by 2023 within the bloc. Additionally, 14% of fuels utilised in transportation will have to be issued from renewable sources by 2030.

The legislation, divided into three major documents, stipulates that member states will have to roll out specific measures to address disparities in energy production and provision, and make renewable energy available for citizens to produce, purchase and sell.

Each member state will be asked to develop a 10-year national plan addressing energy and climate, detailing objectives, contributions, policies and measures, by the end of 2019. This will then have to be updated each decade.

What does it mean for real estate investors with pan-European portfolios? 

The agreement aims at reducing CO2 emissions, maximising energy efficiency, reducing energy costs for European consumers, and fighting global warming. These are goals that have been growing in prevalence over the past decade and are now at the heart of the EU’s agenda, with this recent legislative development further evidencing its importance to the bloc. With buildings consuming around 40% of the energy used worldwide, real estate is inherently at the heart of this commitment.

Firstly, real estate investors with pan-European portfolios can expect a wave of new incentives and regulations promoting renewable energy over traditional energy sources. The design, extent, and stringency of new legislation could however vary from country to country as each is being allowed to develop its own action plan. Considering renewable energy projects at your assets or switching to green energy contracts, now available from most major suppliers, are great ways to contribute toward these goals and enhance your portfolio’s environmental credentials.

An additional benefit of moving toward renewable energy sources is reduced exposure to the price volatility of traditional energy sources such as coal and oil as a result of geopolitical, legislative and environmental dynamics. Not only is renewable energy better for the planet, it may not be long before it comes at a lower and more stable price.

Real estate investors with pan-European portfolios can expect a wave of new incentives and regulations promoting renewable energy over traditional energy sources

It is unclear as to whether national-level plans will mainly apply to primary energy producers, and the extent to which they will involve public and private bodies. It is likely, however, given the scale of this new European directive, that such national goals will to some degree affect all stakeholders involved in the energy supply chain.

As the real estate sector is at the very core of the fight against climate change and in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, real estate investors may be expected to comply to new emission thresholds, standards and increased transparency, in order to meet new national targets. This will certainly require additional resources and capacity to be devoted to better, more structured and regular energy and environmental reporting to external governmental and institutional bodies. Moreover, these new commitments should act a trigger for creating a more transparent energy supply chain for buildings. Re-evaluating and adopting a better step-by-step energy supply strategy will become increasingly important in the years to come.

Real estate investors may be expected to comply to new emission thresholds, standards and increased transparency, in order to meet new national targets

Finally, the initial Energy Efficiency Directive of the European Commission clearly stated the overarching goal of this agreement. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and using resources efficiently, the idea is to move towards a healthier, more comfortable and respectful future for people and the environment. It is of fundamental importance that all stakeholders understand the role that businesses and investments play in shaping the years ahead, and how this legislative step fits into a larger framework of creating resilient value for the future.


  1. Energia, efficienza e rinnovabili al 32,5 e 32 per cento nel 2030. La Repubblica. Published.
  2. European Commission. 19 June 2018. Energy efficiency first: Commission welcomes agreement on energy efficiency American [Press release].
  3. European Commission. 13 November 2018. Commission welcomes European Parliament adoption of key files of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package. [Press release].
  4. European Commission. Buildings.

Moving towards lower carbon electricity generation

The latest UK carbon (‘Carbon’ is being used here as short hand for carbon dioxide emissions – CO2) conversion factors from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) demonstrate that a significant and much-needed decarbonisation of the electricity grid is being achieved.

The latest (2017) carbon emissions from UK electricity generation has reached its lowest recorded figure at 349g CO2/kWh. It is worth noting that there is a two-year delay in the release of updated carbon factors in the UK and so, in reality, this rate relates to electricity generated in 2015.  As seen in Figure 1 below, this compares favourably to the latest global average of 506g CO2/kWh2 (although the average for EU countries is still lower than the UK at 302g CO2/kWh).

Figure 1: Average carbon emissions from electricity generation.

Please note: These values relate to the direct (‘Scope 1’) carbon emissions from electricity generation only (i.e. ‘Scope 3’ or ‘well-to-tank’ emissions are excluded).

Given the two year delay between the electricity generated and the reported values, the true carbon emissions from electricity generated in 2017 are expected to be even lower than those stated in the latest carbon emissions. In November 2012 coal contributed 50% of electricity generation, however, in July 2017 the contribution was only 2%.  Based on this, we should expect a greatly reduced 2019 conversion factor given that coal generation in 2017 reached record lows.

Why the decrease?

In short, the observed trends in the fuel mix (and therefore the main driver of emissions) have been:

  • Less coal;
  • More nuclear;
  • More renewables; and,
  • More electricity directly imported from other countries with the use of interconnectors.

The UK is, typically, a net importer of electricity, with the majority sourced from France. This reduces our carbon conversion factor as France has a heavy reliance on nuclear fission which produces zero direct (‘Scope 1’) carbon emissions. For further information, please see Figure 2 which shows how the UK’s fuel mix has changed in recent years.

Figure 2: Quarterly UK electricity generation by fuel source.

As we all know, moving towards less carbon-intensive electricity generation is essential if we are going to meet our statutory carbon reduction commitments, most notability the 80% reduction by 2050 from 1990 (as outlined in the 2008 Climate Change Act).

As demonstrated by the data, the trends are going in the right direction, however, there is still a lot more the UK can do as we continue to lag behind some of the developed European countries (especially the Nordics). Future progress is being halted by a number of factors.

The Challenges

1.  Despite investments in UK clean energy more than doubling from 2010-2015, investments fell by 56% between 2016 to 2017. However with technological advancements in terms of affordability and efficiency, for solar and wind, there could be a reverse in the recent trend. Most notably, the operational costs of offshore wind farms costs have halved to £58/MWh. This is in contrast to the much more expensive rate agreed for Hinckley Point C at £92.5/ MWh6.

2. Continuing with nuclear as our main source of lower carbon electricity is approaching a bottleneck, with many of our active reactors due for decommissioning in the mid-2020s. This creates issues due to the lengthy process involved in commissioning new nuclear plants meaning we may not have enough time to adequately replace them.

3. The current government’s proposal is to substantially increase our reliance on directly importing electricity from other countries, from a current capacity of 5.7 GW to 20 GW by 2024. This equates to a jump of 6.5% to 24%, which further reduces our own energy security. This means the UK will need to become more reliant on mainland Europe than ever before to meet our increasing electricity demand.

4. Carbon efficiency assessments (i.e. conversion factors) often do not consider lifecycle emissions. Therefore, the carbon associated with the materials used in the building of each power station/turbine is ignored. This is especially pertinent to the nuclear power industry which requires huge amounts of concrete (which indirectly emits large amounts of carbon in its manufacturing), combined with a comparatively short operating lifespan.

Final Thoughts

Despite an uncertain future, there is cause for cautious optimism as the UK is moving in the right direction, with appropriate fuel switching as low carbon technologies become more economically viable. However, whether future changes in our fuel mix will be sufficient to meet our climate change obligations whilst simultaneously balancing electricity demand and energy security remains to be seen.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Despite an uncertain future, there is cause for cautious optimism as the UK is moving in the right direction.” quote=”Despite an uncertain future, there is cause for cautious optimism as the UK is moving in the right direction, with appropriate fuel switching as low carbon technologies become more economically viable.”]


Does the UK’s net zero future need the EU ETS?

The 2008 Climate Change Act already commits the UK to an 80% reduction in emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2050. However, the unwritten long-term target hopefully is, or at least should be, to achieve complete carbon neutrality.

Since its inception in 2005, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) has been Europe’s flagship climate policy. It has two stated aims, namely:

  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an economically efficient manner.
  • To promote investment in low-carbon technologies and energy efficiency improvements.

Approximately 15400 installations, accounting for around 45% of EU greenhouse gas emissions, are now covered by the Scheme, over 1000 of which are in the UK. However, with the Brexit negotiations looming, the UK’s place in the EU ETS is under threat.

As an EU member, the UK is currently subject to the Emissions Trading Directive, but this is unlikely to be the case by the end of the negotiation process as such a position is not compatible with the incumbent government’s Brexit rhetoric of removing European Court of Justice (ECJ) jurisprudence.

The only obvious option for the UK to remain involved in the EU ETS, whilst avoiding ECJ jurisprudence, would be to create a UK ETS and then negotiate a unilateral or bilateral linkage. Switzerland has been undergoing just such a process over the past decade, culminating in a technical-level agreement in January 2016 that is awaiting ratification.

Before beginning to debate how a UK-EU ETS relationship should be formed however, the question that we should be asking first is: is it worth it?

This seemingly simple question has a rather more complex answer. The UK economy is large enough to have an emissions trading scheme of its own, however being part of a larger trading scheme with more participants carries efficiency benefits, through increasing the volume of available low-cost abatement options and through increasing market liquidity and stability.

What is not clear is the extent to which the UK receives these benefits. Given that the EU ETS is now in its twelfth compliance cycle, there seems to be remarkably little research into the extent of the benefits the Scheme produces. With the March 2019 Brexit negotiation deadline fast approaching, the Government should give serious consideration to commissioning such a study for the UK.

The EU ETS is also far from perfect which, to be fair, is to be expected given that it was the first, and continues to be the largest, emissions trading scheme in the world. The large surplus of allowances, a lingering remnant of the 2008 financial crisis, and the persistently low and unstable allowance price are the stand out issues, and add up to mean the EU ETS is not functioning as well as it could.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The majority of the EU ETS’ regulatory design features could be replicated in an independent UK ETS” quote=”The majority of the EU ETS’ regulatory design features could simply be replicated in an independent UK ETS”]

If the UK Government wishes, the majority of the EU ETS’ regulatory design features could simply be replicated in an independent UK ETS. Therefore, the decision of whether to remain involved in the Scheme boils down to weighing the aforementioned economic efficiency benefits against the issues the EU ETS is facing and the challenges of negotiating an acceptable linkage deal for both parties.

The UK business community should seek to take greater ownership of this issue, firstly by pushing the Government to conduct the necessary research to make this decision properly, and secondly by each firm reflecting themselves on what the EU ETS does or does not do for them in the pursuit of carbon neutrality. As the global threat of climate change grows, stricter environmental regulations are inevitable, but high costs don’t have to be. Emissions trading schemes are a proven mechanism for producing low-cost emissions abatement, but to get the most out of them they must have the right design. Is the EU ETS right for the UK? This is something we need to work out.

This blog was originally published on

Net Zero and On-Site Renewables: Opportunities and Considerations for Net Zero Energy Buildings

This blog is part of our Net Zero series for World Green Building Week 2017 – read more here.

As part of the World Green Building Week 2017 theme #OurHeroisZero, this blog explores the opportunities and considerations for on-site renewables in the wider context of net zero energy buildings.

What are net zero energy buildings?

Net zero energy buildings can be defined in many ways, but on a simple level, it is a building connected to the grid where the energy generation matches energy consumption and balanced out to net zero. Net zero is usually assessed at the annual level, but it is becoming increasingly common to account for finer timescales in calculations to improve analyses to inform decision-making. This can be achieved by finding opportunities at all phases of the building life-cycle from construction materials at the design stage, reduction in energy consumption during operation, implementation of efficiency measures and incorporating renewable energy systems.

[clickToTweet tweet=”A building connected to the grid where the energy generation matches energy consumption and balanced out to net zero” quote=”A building connected to the grid where the energy generation matches energy consumption and balanced out to net zero”]

What are the opportunities for on-site renewable technologies to help achieve net zero energy buildings?

Alongside design, construction, building management factors and small-scale retrofitting such as efficient lighting, on-site renewables have also played a key role in achieving net zero energy for building energy generation and operation. On-site renewable energy generation have helped to harness clean energy, improve efficiencies and reduce dependency on the energy grid.

[clickToTweet tweet=”On-site renewables have helped harness clean energy, improve efficiencies and reduce dependency on the energy grid.” quote=”On-site renewable energy generation have helped to harness clean energy, improve efficiencies and reduce dependency on the energy grid.”]

On-site renewable energy is a popular approach as the energy generated can be used to offset the actual energy use of the building and can even be integrated as part of sustainable building envelope design. It is not possible to strive for net zero at the design phase only, as net zero energy must be realised through on-going operation and maintenance throughout the building life cycle.

The technologies and mechanisms available are:

  • Solar Photovoltaics (Solar PV)
  • Purchase of green energy from the grid
  • Micro heat and power generation systems
  • Wind turbines
  • Energy storage technologies (battery and heat storage solutions)

More advanced approaches are:

  • DC microgrids
  • Smart grid and digital technologies
  • Active facades, e.g. artificial leaf technologies

Solar PV and Systems Integration

Solar PV is becoming a more viable option because of decreasing costs of materials and maturity in the marketplace. The mature status of the key solar technologies makes them key players in the energy world. According to the IEA’s Technology Roadmap for Solar Photovoltaic Energy (2014), it is projected that solar power could generate 22% of the world’s electricity by 2050. Solar energy is therefore a viable contender for energy and CO2 mitigation. Solar PV is also more versatile due its multi-disciplinary approach and scalability. In comparison, micro-heat and power generation is less scalable and wind energy through turbines are usually applied as off-site renewables.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s projected that solar could generate 22% of world’s electricity by 2050 making it a contender for CO2 mitigation” quote=”It’s projected that solar could generate 22% of world’s electricity by 2050 making it a contender for CO2 mitigation”]

Of course, climate and locational factors have roles to play in determining the level of renewable energy generating capacities as well as cost and scalability. On-site renewables are however most effective when technologies are coupled together into a system to create a smart on-site renewables DC microgrid, with the application of energy storage and digital technologies. This can prove to be effective for local energy management, as well as scaling up net-zero energy buildings from the single building to the regional scale.

Solar PV as Design

In terms of sustainable building envelope design, there is an opportunity for integration into buildings materials, such as rooftops and facades. Solar PV has been especially popular due to its versatility as in the case of building integrated PV. As well as being decorative and architectural interests, innovative designs can make construction materials more productive and cost-effective compared to traditional building materials. Another element of building design is comfort for occupants which is linked to the wider issue of health & wellbeing as a value indicator for buildings.

What are the considerations for on-site renewable technologies to help achieve net zero energy buildings?


Market incentivisation is key to paving the way for net-zero energy buildings. This boils down to more cost-effective design and construction. Falling costs of renewable energy technologies have helped to increase the use of on-site renewable energy. Increasing digital technologies can help to align tariffs to real-time pricing strategies.

Balancing Loads and interactions with the wider power grid

For building energy management, there always the need to link power generation to building loads. Opportunities can be gained from balancing supply and demand to optimise performance in terms of energy and costs. On top of this, the peak load times and peak consumption reduction prospects must also be considered, as well as interactions with the wider power grid. Digital technology is creating ways to optimise and adjust demand and supply in real-time which improves energy security from outages, systems integration, reducing operation and maintenance costs.

Scaling it up!

Net zero energy buildings should be viewed at both the local and regional scale since net-zero could be achieved at the single building level, but also with the wider energy grid which is becoming smarter with the application of the smart grid. With more digital data available, it is becoming increasingly possible to use this to inform decision-making.

Holistic approach of design, construction and operation

There is a common view that most opportunities will be achieved at the building design stage. This must however be integrated into the operation of the building and integrated across the building life cycle. This is where on-site renewables present an opportunity for energy generation. A joined-up view must be taken for net-zero energy buildings. This is because a building may be designed to be net-zero, but building operation is the challenge when it comes to energy performance despite the intention at design phase and lead to deviations between modelled vs. actual energy performance.

Concluding Remarks

The role of systems thinking can be appreciated within the contexts of energy management, technological developments, economics and policy. Advances and trends in energy storage technology in the microgrid have opened opportunities for net zero buildings and on-site renewable energy generation. For grid and microgrid management, a mismatch of supply and demand is an issue, however this is being resolved by energy storage. For net zero energy buildings to be realised, a coupling between technologies, systems, solutions as well as an eye for scale is required. This can be achieved by finding opportunities at all phases of the building life-cycle from construction materials at the design stage, reduction in energy consumption during operation and implementation of efficiency measures and incorporating renewable energy systems. It is not possible to strive for net zero at the design phase only, as net zero energy can be realised through on-going operation and maintenance.

[clickToTweet tweet=”For net zero buildings to be realised a coupling between technology, systems, solutions and eye for scale is required” quote=”For net zero energy buildings to be realised, a coupling between of technologies, systems, solutions as well as an eye for scale is required”]

If you would like to learn more about EVORA and how we can help your organisation, please contact a member of the team.

ESOS Phase 2 Practical Hints and Tips

This post follows on from the article that my colleague, Neil Dady wrote, ‘ESOS Phase 2 – It’s time to start planning‘ which provides a clear overview of requirements and further detail is available online. I’m not going to go over old ground but instead, I set out a few ESOS Phase 2 practical hints and tips.

Don’t forget the purpose – identify energy saving opportunities

ESOS was developed to help businesses identify energy saving opportunities.  Legislation often gets a bad press, however, the principles here are laudable.  A strategy that identifies savings, then importantly, acts to implement them (something missing in the legislation and a step that is up to the participants) can only be a good thing.  Reducing energy consumption has many benefits:

  • Lowered costs
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Improved corporate responsibility
  • The ability to wrap up into tenant engagement programmes

[clickToTweet tweet=”A strategy that identifies savings, then acts to implement them, can only be a good thing” quote=”A strategy that identifies savings, then importantly, acts to implement them (something missing in the legislation and a step that is up to the participants) can only be a good thing.”]

ISO 50001 – a structured approach to understanding and improving energy performance

If you want to get ISO 50001 up and running, start now.

The international standard for energy management, provides a structured approach to understanding and improving energy performance, however, implementation cannot be rushed through. As Neil highlights in his recent blog, organisations that wish to use ISO 50001 as the compliance route should start work now.

As many will know, organisations with ISO 50001 do not have to complete audits, however, it is a mistake to think that this simplifies matters.  ISO 50001 is not an easy way forward.  It requires completion of a baseline assessment and the establishment of objectives for improvement.  As a result, organisations that operate ISO 50001 management system will have also completed audits in some format.

As many will know, organisations with ISO 50001 do not have to complete audits, however, it is a mistake to think that this simplifies matters.

Those in real estate should also note that ISO 50001 does not count towards GRESB points, whereas ISO 14001 certification does.  Although this is something we are lobbying GRESB on, I can understand the reasoning.  GRESB is a sustainability benchmarking scheme, ISO 14001 requires consideration of all significant environmental issues, whereas ISO 50001 is focused on energy only.

Audits for compliance – beware of changing portfolios

Obligated organisations must assess energy consumption over 12 months, which must include the qualification date of 31 December 2018.  90% of energy identified must then be assessed.  As a result, auditing assets now, solely to comply with ESOS, would be a waste of time if the assets were then sold before the qualification date.

Audit anyway – the savings start to add up

Despite the above point, audits will still identify improvement opportunities that reduce energy consumption.  Subject to wider asset management plans (redevelopment, sale etc), I would recommend that audits are completed on all assets with an energy spend of over £200,000 per year – irrespective of ESOS obligations. Our audit team typically find quick win savings of 5% and often more (5% on a £200,000 spend per year equates to £10,000 – with a typical payback of less than a year).  Apply these principles to a portfolio of 10 assets and the savings start to add up significantly.

[clickToTweet tweet=”We typically find quick win savings of 5% or more. Apply this to 10 assets and the savings add up” quote=”Our audit team typically find quick win savings of 5% and often more (5% on a £200,000 spend per year equates to £10,000 – with a typical payback of less than a year).”]

EVORA employs a team of Energy Auditors and ESOS Lead Assessors.  For further information, do not hesitate to call or email.