Celebrating Eshcon’s 15th Anniversary

Celebrating Eshcon’s 15th Anniversary Help me celebrate! 15 years ago, I set up Eshcon to develop and deliver my mission – to make environmental management THE business norm. 2006 seems an age ago now. It’s strange to look back and think about how I, and the business, have developed. Eshcon became full-time in 2012, previously working one day per week. I’ve had a rollercoaster of a ride – learning how to set up and run a business (never done that before), developing new services that clients really value, getting out and about to raise the profile of environmental management to a whole new audience. This is no mean feat seeing as most SMEs don’t last more than five years.   Anniversary party? Of course, I wanted to mark the anniversary. Pre Covid, it would be normal for companies to hold a little soirée - inviting clients, colleagues and partners for drinks and canapés. Parties aren’t really my thing, even if we were allowed to meet in person. I...
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ISO 50001 Gap Analysis

Mind the Gap – are you Ready for ISO 50001? We know that energy efficiency is good for your business – save energy, save money. If you want to have a deeper focus on energy, why not expand your existing ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and get ISO 50001?   What is ISO 50001? With their soaring energy costs, I see that more and more companies are interested in Energy Management Systems (EnMS). The system helps them understand and manage energy consumption and budgets, in a formalised way. It can then be certified to the international standard ISO 50001. But why start from scratch? It’s much easier to build upon an existing management system. All significant management systems standards follow the same ‘high level structure’ so that the core framework for each is the same. This makes it more straight-forward to expand existing systems (e.g. ISO 14001 Environmental Management System or ISO 9001 Quality) to incorporate energy and the requirements of ISO 50001. The cyclic process of the ISO...
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The impacts of air pollution on our health & the economy

The impacts of air pollution on our health & the economy We don’t think enough about the impact of air pollution – on our health, on society and indeed the economy. Air pollution loses 3 million working days Research from the CBI and the Clean Air Fund has found that poor air quality in the UK causes 3 million lost working days, costing the economy about £600m per year. This is down to people getting sick or taking time off to care for sick children. Improving air quality standards could help improve productivity, actually benefitting the economy by about £1.6bn a year and preventing a staggering 17,000 premature deaths of working age people. Then there’s the benefit to the NHS from lower sickness rates. During the Covid-19 lockdown, we saw how reduced traffic levels can improve air quality. Data from the Clean Air Fund found a 25% reduction in NO2 emissions in London during the morning rush hour and a 34% fall at evening commuting...
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My Story, My Mission, My Vision

My Story, My Mission, My Vision On this World Environment Day, I wanted to share my story. Much environmental messaging comes across as (slightly) negative – we’ve got to stop doing / reduce / prevent XYZ or it’ll devastating for us / the planet / wildlife / oceans. And yes, this is true. It is important to change. But negativity & fear don’t motivate most people. It can be much more inspiring to focus on the positive… to have something wonderful to aim for. So, I thought I’d share how I got involved in environmental management (My Story), what I’m trying to achieve (My Vision) and how I go about this (My Mission).   My Story My Story begins with me, aged 10, sitting on the floor in front of the TV watching the wonderful David Attenborough’s Life on Earth. This series was so inspirational to me, seeing the beautiful world around us, its diversity & fragility. We are so lucky to live here & benefit from...
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Jargon Buster

From Access Economy to Zero Carbon – here’s the Jargon Buster Environment A-Z   The environmental industry can seem a little cliquey to the outsider. Maybe we talk in TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms!), abbreviations or just use words that are so outside the sphere of ‘normal people’. For years I have tried to avoid using the term ‘sustainability’ because it immediately turned people off – using ‘environmental’ (even though this is only one of the three elements of sustainability) makes it immediately more understandable. As experts we want to get it right, but we do have to consider our audience. The environmental news site edie has helpfully put together a Jargon Buster. This is a useful tool if you can’t tell the difference between carbon neutral & net zero; can’t get your head around biomimicry or biodiversity; want to get to grips with ISO 14001 & ISO 50001; or to differentiate between supply chain & value chain. This helps you cut through complexity and get straight...
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Save Energy when Working from Home

Save Energy when Working from Home With the country battling the Corona virus, many of us are dealing with new ways of working. While I’m sure no-one misses the daily commute, working from home presents its own challenges … & opportunities. Apart of the health & childcare concerns, we’ll also be using more gas & electricity while working from home, so our energy bills will be going up. So, I thought I’d put together some simple tips on saving energy at home whether you’re alone or with the family.   Turn down the heating Over half of a typical home’s fuel bill is for heating & hot water - turning down the heating by just 1oC can save up to £80 per year. Use the programmer to set your heating & hot water to come on when it’s needed & go off when it’s not. Make use of the thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to control the temperature in each room, especially those that are unoccupied (for...
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Getting the Best from ESOS

After the Deadline – 4 Tips for Getting the Best from ESOS Thousands of companies rushed to comply with ESOS, the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme. Were you one of them? You’re probably thinking… great, I don’t have to do anything until the next deadline. But if you do leave it there, you’re missing out on great opportunities to save energy and money. Now is the really important bit. So, where do you start and how do you keep momentum?   How to Get the Best from ESOS Step 1 - Think about Priorities The report from your energy audit will have given you recommendations for saving energy - including electricity, gas, other fuels and for transport. The actions don’t have to be just technical, you should also be thinking about operational & behavioural changes too. You’ll probably have been given an indication of priority for the actions - the quick & easy ones (the ‘low hanging fruit’) that will give you best return or those that require...
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Are you ready for SECR Carbon Reporting?

Are you ready for SECR Carbon Reporting? Are you prepared for the new SECR carbon reporting regulations? The Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting Regulations require large companies to include carbon & energy information in their Annual Report.  This applies for financial years starting on or after 1st April 2019.   SECR applies to quoted and large unquoted companies registered in the UK (as defined by the Companies Act 2006), fulfilling at least 2 of the following conditions in the financial year:>250 employeesAnnual turnover >£36mAnnual balance sheet >£18m.   The following information needs to be included in the Annual Report for that year: • Greenhouse gas emissions - Scope 1, 2 & some 3 emissions arising from energy use in buildings & transport – presented in tonnes of CO2e.Large unquoted companies & LLPs should report on UK operations. Quoted companies will continue to be required to report on global activities. • Energy consumption data in kWh used to calculate the emissions – electricity, gas, other fuels, company vehicles, rental cars...
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Making the Most of ESOS webinar

Making the Most of ESOS webinar I was delighted to be invited again to take part in an IEMA webinar, this time on ESOS - The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme. ESOS requires large companies to conduct energy audits & report compliance to the regulator. The deadline for this phase is 5th December 2019. IEMA – the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment – runs a series of webinars for its members, to keep them up to date with the latest issues & legislation, plus helps them with their own personal & business development opportunities. The webinar on Mon 10th June lunchtime was attended by over 150 delegates & we had a good range of questions at the end. As a registered Lead ESOS Assessor, I shared my experiences of the challenges faced last time – from getting good quality data to scheduling the meeting with the director in good time. A recording of the webinar, plus the slides are available here. See also my blog on The...
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ESOS – Are you on track?

ESOS – Are you on track? The mandatory Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) requires ‘large enterprises’ to have energy audits done every four years by an approved Lead ESOS Assessor & signed off by a board-level director. It may seem a bit of a pain to do this, but the commercial benefits are clear – save energy, save money, reduce risk and plan for the future. The deadline is just 12 months away - 5th December 2019 - so you should be starting your ESOS projects now, to beat the rush before the Lead Assessors get booked up again.   I work with loads of organisations to do their ESOS Assessment - what’s Involved? Measure Energy Consumption - Review energy uses & data for all relevant companies in the group - covering energy in buildings, processes, fuels & transport - to determine Total and Significant Energy Consumption. Audits - Conduct audits to identify energy savings opportunities. My approach is different from standard assessors as I particularly focus...
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Get ready for SECR reporting

Get ready for Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) New carbon reporting regulations are coming. The government recently announced its plans for new carbon reporting, starting in April 2019. The Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regulations require carbon & energy information to be included in the company’s Annual Report. SECR applies to quoted and large unquoted companies registered in the UK (as defined by the Companies Act 2006 and fulfilling at least 2 of the following conditions in the financial year: >250 employees, annual turnover >£36m, annual balance sheet >£18m). The following information needs to be included in the Annual Report for that year: Greenhouse gas emissions - Scope 1 and 2 emissions arising from energy use in buildings & transport, including electricity, gas, vehicles & refrigerants (scope 3 remain voluntary). Large companies should report on UK activities; quoted companies will continue to be required to report on global energy use and carbon emissions. Details of the methodology for calculating emissions and a...
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CCL – Energy taxes on the rise

CCL - Energy taxes on the rise When you pay your energy bills, hopefully you’re aware that your business is paying a tax to the government called the Climate Change Levy. Large, non-energy-intensive organisations currently have to purchase allowances for the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) they are responsible for, under the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (the Carbon Reduction Commitment). The CRC has been seen as complicated & a burden on business, in that they have to forecast their energy use & financial plans accordingly. With the CRC ending next year, the government needs to somehow recoup this lost revenue. The increase in the CCL Climate Change Levy simply transfers the revenue collection to the energy bill, rather than a separate scheme. It is important that you are aware of this increased levy & how it will affect your energy bills. Many businesses just don’t think much about the cost of electricity & gas – they simply pass the bills on to the...
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Getting Boardroom Buy-In

Getting Boardroom Buy-In - my report back from edieLive Last week I attended the annual conference & exhibition edieLive at the NEC. It was a great mix of exhibitors, speakers, workshops & general networking. I met with clients & contacts - it’s always nice to have a catch up - plus I met plenty of new people - useful for collaborations, referrals, potential clients & simply learning from others. I also had a busy day in the Energy Efficiency Theatre, chairing & presenting two sessions. Here’s a summary of the main points I covered.   Getting Boardroom Buy-In Many environmental professionals have difficulties engaging with senior management, who may be too busy or simply not interested. So I gave some insights for getting boardroom buy-in. I first asked the simplest of questions - who are you trying to reach? This is Marketing 101 - you have to understand your target audience. I floated some ideas of what the Board wants & what’s important to a typical director. Then,...
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Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES)

Are you ready for MEES? From April 2018, rented buildings must meet new energy efficiency standards. It will be unlawful to rent or lease a property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below an E. This applies to new tenancy agreements now and in 2023 will expand to include all privately rented property included in existing longer-term leases. New tenancies already must obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which have A – G energy efficiency ratings. Currently 40% of EPCs are rated D or below & 25% are the worst F or G ratings. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES), coming in to force in April 2018, requires the property to achieve an EPC of E or better. This means that if any of your offices, sites or buildings have an EPC with a rating of F or G, you will not be able to lease that property. You must upgrade to E or above before the lease is completed. There are five Exemptions...
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Making ESOS work for you

Making ESOS work for you We are now in Phase 2 of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) - the energy data review & audits must be completed, & then the notification of compliance submitted to the Regulator, by December 2019. Those companies that know they will qualify for the scheme (they meet the financial &/or staff thresholds) should be thinking about beginning the compliance process now - commission your energy audits early to avoid the rush as the deadline approaches. Although you won’t be able to calculate your Total Energy Consumption yet (it needs to include energy use covering 31st December 2018), the energy audits can be started now using data already gathered to inform them. Last time in ESOS, many companies were unprepared & spent a lot of time trying to locate the energy data needed. This wasted time & cost money, as the ESOS Assessor had to focus so much more on gathering & analysing quality data. One client provided me...
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Energy Efficiency Grants

Energy Efficiency Grants Did you know that there are grants & other finance opportunities available for businesses? Grants of up to £10,000 are available for energy efficiency works & other business development, though these will depend on your size (usually for SMEs), location & sector. Here are two examples of grants schemes that I know of in the South East.   LoCASE – business support for low carbon sector LoCASE is a scheme administered by the University of Brighton’s Green Growth Platform to drive green business growth in East Sussex, Kent & Essex. There are two elements of the grants scheme, firstly to help SMEs in low carbon & environment sectors with business growth & R&D grants. Grants of up to £10,000 covering 40% of the cost, for projects to help grow your business or develop new products & services. Grants can fund: Energy efficiency measures Development finance - to enable expansion of the business (e.g. marketing costs) Plant & machinery - including re-tooling & installation of...
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End of the Road for Halogens?

End of the Road for Halogens? We all know that halogen bulbs are notoriously short-lived – they are forever blowing & it takes time & money to keep changing them. But did you know that halogens are on the way out? Most types of the gas-based bulb are scheduled for phase-out on 1st September 2018. A few will remain on sale - e.g. used for spotlights and floodlights - but in general you need to be thinking now of alternatives & LEDs will be the sensible choice.   LED Savings LED technology has advanced over the years & it’s now available in every household fitting. The energy & cost savings in choosing LEDs over halogen stand to be significant. For example, you have a traditional 100 Watt bulb – the energy costs of replacing this with a 14W LED would be around £2 a year, while a 77W halogen would cost around £11 and a CFL £3. The CFL may be cheaper to buy but it’ll...
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News for 2018

Environment in Business - News for 2018 All companies should be embedding the environment into their business to get the commercial benefits. I work with organisations to identify improvements, calculate carbon emissions & put in Environmental Management Systems (EMS), so that you become more efficient, reduce risk & win new business. This year, you should be aware of deadlines & legislation requirements that may affect your business.   ISO 14001 Deadline Does your organisation have an EMS (Environmental Management System) certified to ISO 14001? If so, then you need to upgrade to the new version of the standard by the deadline September 2018. There are some significant changes required, which need to be ASAP - including context of the organisation, leadership, risks and opportunities, life cycle & evaluation of performance. More info is here. I’ve helped a number of organisations with the transition - making it smooth & successful.   ESOS Phase 2 ESOS (the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) is a mandatory energy assessment scheme for large organisations in the UK....
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Jargon Buster

From Access Economy to Zero Carbon – here’s the Environment A-Z The environmental industry can seem a little cliquey to the outsider. Maybe we talk in TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms!), abbreviations or just use words that are so outside the sphere of ‘normal people’.   For years I have tried to avoid using the term ‘sustainability’ because it immediately turned people off – using ‘environmental’, even though this is only one of the three elements of sustainability, makes it immediately more understandable. As experts we want to get it right, but we do have to consider our audience.   The news site edie has helpfully put together a Jargon Buster.   This helps you cut through complexity and get straight to the definition & then gives you related content (news stories, blogs & features).   Helpfully, for some of the more complex issues (e.g. science-based targets) they provide more in-depth analysis & how to apply it to your business.   So check out the Jargon Buster & get talking about these...
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Huge opportunities for SMEs to save energy

Huge opportunities for SMEs to save energy A survey recently by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) looked into how businesses have been managing their energy consumption.   They found that only 9% of SMEs had ever conducted energy audits on the business, while 69% of large companies had. The numbers ranged from 7% for sole traders to 84% of organisations with >1,000 employees.   This shows that there are huge opportunities for SMEs, particularly, to save energy & therefore save money.   I have found that businesses are put off conducting energy audits because they think they’ll just be told to spend lots of money - that the recommendations will all be about putting in solar panels or other expensive kit.   My approach to energy audits, however, is to look at not only technological options, but also at behavioural & operational changes which can often be no-cost or low-cost activities for quick results.   Back to the BEIS survey, of those SMEs that had done an...
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