The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) requires large businesses in the UK to measure their total energy consumption at least every four years and carry out audits (or alternative compliance route e.g. ISO 50001) of the energy used by their buildings, industrial processes and transport. The audits are intended to identify practical and cost-effective energy saving opportunities. Completion of an audit is mandatory, but implementation of the recommendations from the audit is left to the discretion of the participant.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has identified a potential conflict between the energy efficiency recommendations from an ESOS audit and the recommendations required to help a business along its journey to net zero. For one, shorter term cost saving actions recommended through current ESOS audits can sometimes conflict with longer term investments that will be required to get businesses on a trajectory to meet net zero targets. Longer term investments might include zero carbon technologies, electric vehicles, and clean heat. As such, the idea of introducing a net zero element into energy audits is currently under review. The consultation is open until the end of September and changes are likely to come into force during the current phase (Phase 3), which runs until 2023.
Net zero aside, ESOS in its current form has faced criticism over the fact that some businesses view ESOS purely as a compliance exercise; perceptions of the varying quality of assessors; the lack of standardisation of the ESOS report; and the fact that implementation of recommendations is not mandatory. Beefing up ESOS to address net zero could make businesses take it more seriously and improve the uptake of recommendations.
The proposed changes include mandating organisations to:
Other suggestions include:
Net zero is a logical extension of ESOS; it will raise awareness of important measures of which your business may have previously been unaware; it enhances energy managers’ business case when going to their boards; and assessors feel confident that this is both feasible and deliverable.
Although the deadline for Phase 3 ESOS is December 2023, in our experience LEED assessors are in high demand the closer you get to the deadline. Looking at ESOS early gives you time to plan sites visits, especially if you have multiple and complex sites. Given that a net zero site audit can include the ESOS requirements, combine ESOS, net zero and potential ISO 50001 programmes to save on costs. Call us today so we can discuss how to streamline and save on compliance and net zero strategy development.