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Government’s targets to cut business energy use will struggle in “absence of policy”

Government’s targets to cut business energy use will struggle in “absence of policy”
05 February 2020 | Updated 06 February 2020

A report by Green Alliance claims that the government’s clean growth strategy can only be achieved by accelerating new policies.

As things stand, only half of the original ambition can be achieved. The strategy set a target to cut business energy use to at least 20% below 2015 levels. But additional savings of 50 TWh (terawatt hours) are needed, and will require new policies to be written, says the report.

The Green Alliance report methodology also showed that wasted energy by commercial offices is costing the UK over £60m a year, and generating the same level of carbon emissions as 82,000 cars.


Industry must lead the way


There is a suggestion within the report that industry and service sectors should be setting best practice net-zero examples, as they are best positioned to promote quick wins. As the report states:

“Meeting the UK’s net-zero target requires emission cuts across all sectors of the economy. Industry and service sector businesses, which are currently responsible for around a quarter of UK emissions, should be leading the way because they have substantial, low cost opportunities to reduce energy”

This is echoed by Sophie Walker, UK Head of Sustainability at JLL:

“This research from Green Alliance on the necessity of energy efficiency is very welcome. But wasted energy in buildings has been recognised by the sector as a major issue for some time – what this report does is again emphasise the easy cost savings still to be achieved from focussing on energy efficiency. It’s environmental realpolitik and will help drive forward net-zero carbon commitments.

"But, fundamentally, to affect the mainstream rapidly, what we need is government to learn from the industry first-movers and put regulation in place to accelerate change."

– Sophie Walker

UK Head of Sustainability, JLL

“There are still quick wins and there is still a huge amount of building optimisation to be done, and we at JLL are strongly encouraging all our clients to view net-zero and energy efficiency as a strategic business priority.

“But, fundamentally, to affect the mainstream rapidly, what we need is government to learn from the industry first movers and put regulation in place to accelerate change. 

“The real estate industry has been stepping up in an attempt to supersede this absence of policy. A point rightly highlighted in the report is that Australia has done a fantastic job of putting the right operational metrics in place. 

“The UK stands to learn a huge amount from Australia and is already taking steps in the right direction. 

“The release of the UK Green Building Council’s energy efficiency metrics for commercial offices last week, and Design for Performance pilots being driven by the Better Buildings Partnership, are key steps in the right direction, and we’d like government to adopt these measures rapidly.”


Digital tech must be embraced


The report further criticises the government for its lack of enthusiasm in terms of how digital technology can offer additional “clean growth” opportunities:

“The government is not using digital solutions effectively. The clean growth strategy set a firm commitment to address business energy efficiency. Yet most of the current discussion about digital energy solutions is focused on demand response rather than reducing demand and there is little indication that the government intends to wholeheartedly embrace the new energy efficiency opportunities that digital technology could offer.”  

Read the Green Alliance report “A smarter way to save energy – Using digital technology to increase business energy efficiency” here:

Picture: White smoke coming from an industrial area, indicating business energy use. Government’s targets to cut business energy use will struggle in “absence of policy”

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 05 February 2020


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