Building Services News - in Focus

Less is More?

Research by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) has shown that whilst corporate energy consumption is declining, the impact of recent marked increases in utility costs has resulted in the overall cost of running a facility to be 10% higher than it was four years ago.

The US study, Benchmarks V: Annual Facility Costs published in May 2008, surveyed over one thousand facility professionals in North America examining a variety of costs associated with running a facility including utilities, lease, maintenance, housekeeping, security, environmental, recycling, waste disposal and space planning.

It reveals that whilst average electricity consumption was down by around 12%, utility costs which include electricity, fuel oil, water and sewage, have jumped 19% compared to similar data from 2006. The IFMA attribute the decline in energy consumption to the effect of companies implementing energy conservation practices, lighting improvements and equipment upgrades at their facilities.

The annual benchmarking survey of IFMA members is intended to allow for easy comparisons of built environment costs and practices; this year’s report is IFMA’s largest benchmarking study to date, with many survey respondents supplying information from multiple facilities.

Further information:

RICS publishes carbon management guidance

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has for the first time published professional guidance into the carbon management of property. ‘Carbon Management of Real Estate – A guide to best practice’, published in May 2008 provides professional advice and standards to all Chartered Surveyors when advising their clients or employers on developing organisational carbon management strategies.

The advice covers benchmark assessment of carbon footprinting, carbon emission reduction and forecasting techniques, financial and carbon emissions appraisals. It follows increased market awareness of and demand for energy efficiency in real estate and the recent introduction of legislation in the form of Commercial Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

The guidance note also identifies good practice for businesses interested in improving their environmental sustainability credentials and in this current era of high energy prices, improving their financial bottom line. In this regard, RICS points to two recent studies in the US by the New Building Institute and CoStar which demonstrated that buildings with high LEED or ENERGY STAR ratings not only minimise energy use but have been commanding higher rents and improved occupancy.

Further information:

Energy Health Check for NHS

The NHS Sustainable Development Unit (NHS SDU) has recently published a draft carbon reduction strategy for the NHS in England. Saving Carbon, Improving Health sets the framework for NHS organisations in England to reduce their carbon emissions.

The NHS is the largest employer in the UK and with responsibility for over 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum is the largest public sector contributor to climate change. The NHS SDU was set up on the 1st April 2008 to provide leadership, support and policy input to ensure the NHS in England is the leading public sector organisation in promoting sustainable development and mitigating climate change.

The consultation document published in May 2008 invites feedback on a wide variety of energy use issues relating to estate management, transport, procurement, and waste minimisation.

To support this process, the Sustainable Development Commission, the UK government's independent watchdog on sustainable development, in conjunction with the Stockholm Environment Institute has also this month published a carbon footprinting study covering all NHS England Estates and activities.

It reveals that within the baseline year measured of 2004 procurement forms 60% of emissions for which NHS England are responsible, within which travel or building energy use emissions are the largest sub-sector, making up 22% of total emissions. The SDC has therefore recommended that the NHS should make mandatory the requirement for building energy use data to be captured via the ERIC system across all NHS England organisations.

Further information: and

Funding Boost for Microgeneration Schemes

The UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has announced a call for applications in Phase 2 of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP2).

From 1st April 2008, public sector and not-for-profit organisations can apply for 50% of the cost for installing approved microgeneration technologies,

The programme, managed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), is a joint BERR/Defra fund to bring forward the demonstration and deployment of low carbon energy and energy efficiency technologies including biomass systems, ground source heat pumps, solar photovoltaics, solar thermal hot water and wind turbines.

Applications are now being accepted now until an estimated mid-2009, dependent on the actual rate of applications. Organisations wishing to apply for a grant under the LCBP Phase 2 need to ensure that their building(s) meet the building regulations applicable at the time of construction or major refurbishment.

Details of all aspects of the Phase 2 grant application process, suppliers, installers and technologies are available on the programme website below.

The ABC of EPC

From April 2008 the European Energy Performance Directive (EPBD) requires most commercial buildings to display a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Compliance with the EPBD is now a legal requirement for anyone involved in the sale, leasing or management of commercial property. The domestic version of the EPBD was implemented in August 2007 with the launch of Home Information Packs.

Research by the Carbon Trust indicates that reducing the amount of the energy consumed is one of the fastest and most effective ways a business can save money, to this end the EPC provides property owners with a useful benchmarked energy rating together with recommendations for improving the energy efficiency of the building.

An EPC is an indication of the energy efficiency of a building based upon a range of factors including the quality of thermal insulation, building fabric, heating, lighting and ventilation. There is no pass or fail figure, but rather the certificate provides an energy rating similar to the certicficates common seen on domestic appliances sold within the EU, an 'A' rating being the best and a 'G' rating being the worst, the assessment process also generates a series of recommendations based upon the condition of the building. The EPC is valid for 10 years.

The timetable for compliance of the EPC aspect of the legislation is currently as follows:

6th April 2008 for most commercial buildings up to 10 000 sq m
1st July 2008 for most commercial buildings up to 2 500 sq m
1st October 2008 most commercial buildings

Enforcement of the EPBD is managed by the trading standards department of the local authority with the fine for not meeting the legislative requirements currently 12.5% of rateable value, subject to a minimum fine of £500 and maximum fine of £5000.

Only accredited energy assessors will be able to carry out assessments, to issue the EPC and accompanying recommendations report. Consolux has recently completed the EPC training course and we anticipate that in due course we will be offering the service to our clients, details of which will be posted on this website shortly.

Please note that Consolux is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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