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Lightening the load

Ashley Phillips of Ørsted Sales UK explains what organisations can do to manage their energy in smarter, more efficient ways

For most facilities managers, their role is about so much more than managing a building. FMs support both people and processes, with a responsibility for the wellbeing of those people as well as the day-to-day health and productivity of the business. This can bring challenges, especially for FM professionals whose remit covers energy management. While integral to the systems and processes in any built environment, energy management is, in itself, an increasingly complex task.

Our energy infrastructure is evolving, bringing shifting regulatory obligations and technological change. The changes we’re seeing are positive ones that support our nation’s move towards a cleaner, greener energy future that’s stable, sustainable and cost efficient for us all. Nevertheless, across the board, energy-related responsibilities seem to be expanding in the face of decreased team sizes and tightening budgets. The complexities of energy management are deepening, meaning a more integrated approach is needed; one that takes commercial resilience into account and aligns energy strategy with the wider business and FM strategy.

Ørsted believes that energy suppliers should be working in close partnership with FM professionals to help them cut energy costs and adapt to the changing demands of increasingly complex energy management responsibilities. There’s a greater need for products and services that go beyond a typical added-value contract, to complement procurement strategies and help organisations make light work of energy and sustainability goals. In the simplest terms, it’s about outsourcing some of the growing demands of energy management to industry experts. With a little help from their supplier, FMs can plan better, optimise their assets and innovate more, without the need for more people or investment.

Some forward-looking suppliers are already beginning to provide this. Ørsted, for example, calls it ‘energy as a service’, but it’s available under different names and it’s worth talking to your supplier to find out about their own approach to it.

Most companies will have already undertaken plenty of activity to reduce their energy consumption and keep costs under control, be it switching to energy-efficient lighting or encouraging staff to be more conscientious about switching things off when they’re not in use. In particular, the introduction of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) five years ago put greater emphasis on identifying opportunities to reduce energy usage, suggesting practical actions for organisations to take.

To make further savings a more integrated and specialist approach is needed. This might involve a whole range of activities, from installing on-site generation to participating in demand side response (DSR) schemes.

When we talk to business energy customers about obstacles to smarter energy management, the issues most often cited are lack of expertise, headcount and capex. Even for those with in-depth energy expertise to draw on, time and budget remain an issue. Energy as a service could be the simplest way for FMs to address the issue head-on and reduce their daily burden.

Energy as a service takes account of individual business needs, ambitions and assets to design a bespoke approach that achieves financial savings while reducing the carbon footprint. It encompasses a range of techniques, including sustainable sourcing, on-site generation and storage, price optimisation and demand-side flexibility to optimise the customer’s entire energy estate.

Some suppliers, like Ørsted, can fund upfront investment in energy projects, providing finance so that the payments can come out of opex spend over periods of up to 20 years. The customer decides on how much control the supplier should be given over assets – but handing over 100 per cent control means handing over 100 per cent of the headache. In short, it pays to make use of specialist expertise (and funding options) to boost your green credentials and make a positive impact to your bottom line.

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