The role of the energy manager – part of the Energy supplement

The cost of energy, and energy efficiency, have both climbed higher and higher up the priority lists of both boardrooms and government. In parallel, a growing number of conscientious individuals have continued to work quietly in the background, maximising energy efficiency measures to reduce energy consumption, motivated by both the need to reduce CO2 emissions and to make financial savings.

In an era of wide-screen plasma televisions and regular international travel, we are living in an increasingly energy-intensive society. Fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, gas) still account for the majority of the UK’s energy consumption and are a major contribution to the increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This increase has been identified as a significant factor towards climate change, resulting in the need for a global reduction in emissions. As the world begins to acknowledge this, it has resulted in a U-turn in focus from fossil fuelled power generation to low carbon technologies to combat climate change on a scale the likes of which has never been seen before.

Energy efficiency has always offered a win-win solution. It is increasingly seen as the most important action in terms of what can be realistically achieved in the timescale required to reduce carbon emissions. It is the biggest way in which both individuals and organisations can play an active role in tackling the energy challenges that lie ahead, and that can also make a difference today. While it takes time to build new nuclear power stations and fully demonstrate and test carbon capture and storage technology, effective energy management practices can have an immediate effect both on CO2 emissions and the bottom line.

Effective energy management is increasingly becoming a priority and particularly within the manufacturing sector where energy levels can be high due to heating, lighting, and all of the equipment involved. With management becoming more accountable for increasing costs, the emphasis on monitoring energy consumption and identifying how to maximise efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and involve staff in helping to cut energy costs is becoming paramount.

Power hungry management
In the past there have been few formal procedures to encourage energy management and efficiency. In the first instance, many organisations do not fully understand the task to hand or have the resources available to monitor and adapt energy behaviour. It is still rare for an organisation to have a dedicated full-time energy manager – often the role is taken by facilities, estates or environmental managers who have many other competing demands.

Buildings account for approximately 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and so those responsible for energy management play a vital role in making buildings work more effectively and sustainably. From monitoring energy bills to spearheading capital projects, they are often central to championing a culture shift in the workplace to lead new directions and encourage colleagues to consider how they can improve their own energy use. However, despite those responsible for energy management often being highly skilled, offering a whole-systems approach to energy efficiency, the role and responsibilities of energy managers has not always had the authority and status it deserves.

The good news is that attitudes are changing.

What was once seen as a ‘nice to have’ role is becoming essential for forward thinking organisations, as shown by the increase in numbers of energy managers in the UK and worldwide.

A good place to start is with the BS EN 16001 energy management standard. Launched in the UK by the BSI in 2009, it is the only standard to focus solely on energy efficiency. This standard was the first of a wide ranging portfolio of standards aimed at supporting the European Energy Services Directive with an emphasis on improved energy efficiency. Designed to help organisations establish the systems and processes necessary to improve energy efficiency, this should lead to reductions in cost and emissions through systematic management of energy. It is intended to apply to all types and sizes of organisations, accommodates diverse geographical, cultural and social conditions, and takes into account legal requirements and information about significant energy aspects.

The standard also requires organisations to measure their consumption; conduct an audit and investigation as to exactly where energy is being consumed; draw up a list of opportunities for making savings; and incorporate them into energy policies. While these standards may not be mandatory, they provide a formal structure to energy management, outlining good practice to developing effective energy efficiency measures, thus saving you money.

Tips for saving energy in the workplace

● Establish clear procedures and ownership for all equipment to make sure that it is switched off, or at least turned down, when not in use.

● Assess whether the lighting is fit for purpose, can you use natural daylight or higher efficiency products?

● How is your workspace heated/cooled? Is it competing with open doors and windows?

● Carry out a daily/weekly assessment site tour identifying energy wasteful practices.

● Understand where and when the energy is being used.

● Maintain equipment at regular intervals to ensure peak efficiency.

Chartered status for Energy Managers
In recognition of the important role energy management plays and with a desire to raise standards, the Energy Institute (EI) has introduced the title ‘Chartered Energy Manager’. Achieving a chartered title is a commitment to a professional code of conduct and career-long professional status. And, in turn, it is hoped that this new title will raise the profile and valuable contribution of those working in energy management. Never before has the role of energy management been more significant and the EI is committed to providing the professionals with the right tools and support they need.

Aimed at technical staff with a responsibility for improving energy efficiency and reducing energy costs, the EI is holding a 12-day European Energy Manager (EUREM) qualification programme.

Undertaking such a course which will help an organisation achieve energy savings and reduce emissions. Bookings are now open for this qualification with the course commencing in May and held in blocks of three days across three months. For more information, please visit www.energyinst.org/eurem

The Energy Institute (EI) is the leading chartered professional membership body for the international energy industry, responsible for the development and dissemination of knowledge, skills and good practice, working towards a safe, secure and sustainable energy system. Supporting all those studying and working in energy, and with over 14,000 individuals and 300 companies in membership, it offers learning and networking opportunities to support career development.

Delivering professionalism and good practice, the EI addresses the depth and breadth of energy in all its forms and applications, providing a scientific and technical bank of knowledge for industry. For more information about chartered status, training and development for energy managers, please visit www.energyinst.org