Today marks the Energy Day at COP27, a day which has promised to deal with all aspects of energy and climate change. Everything from renewable energy and smart grids, to energy efficiency, storage, new systems and technology are all on the agenda for discussion, as world leaders seek agreement on how best to collectively deliver a just, clean energy transition.
Of course, energy is a topic which has dominated the news headlines in recent months. The crisis which has unfolded in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown global energy markets into turmoil, with exorbitant prices, energy security and supply issues forcing many countries to rapidly rethink their energy policies and priorities.
For many business leaders, cost and resilience of supply may have taken precedence in recent months when considering their own business energy use, and it is understandable why - for some - decarbonisation and ESG commitments may have been forced to take a back seat. A recent edie survey found that one in five businesses are being forced to de-prioritise work relating to the net-zero transition due to the current economic crisis. However, as COP27 pulls these commitments firmly back into the spotlight, it is important for businesses to recognise that reducing their energy costs and delivering on net-zero targets should not be mutually exclusive. In fact, adopting a strategy which focuses on improving building energy efficiency can go a long way in delivering business benefits on a number of fronts – improving energy resilience, employee productivity and ESG outcomes - while maintaining progress towards those all important net-zero goals.
Buildings account for 36% of final global energy consumption and 37% of energy related CO2 emissions and have a critical role to play in the energy transition. To ensure a net-zero future, building industry leaders have stated that, by 2030, 100% of new buildings must be net-zero carbon in operation and embodied carbon must be reduced by at least 40%; and by 2050, all new and existing assets must be net zero across the whole life cycle. However, a recent report from the IEA has highlighted that rising demand for energy services in buildings is currently outpacing energy efficiency and decarbonisation gains. While many organisations have joined the Race to Zero, understanding the complex interactions within and between your buildings and energy networks is no simple feat, and knowing where to start your decarbonisation efforts can be challenging, especially while dealing with other immediate risks brought on by the current energy crisis.
If there is one step businesses should consider as a priority today, it should be to invest in their energy data infrastructure. After all, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it, and understanding exactly where and when your buildings are using energy is the vital first step in becoming more efficient and reducing your carbon impact, while minimising costs at the same time.
Advancements in monitoring and metering technologies, and innovative simulation and analytics tools, such as digital twins, offer solutions for companies to analyse their carbon output and make better informed decisions around how to reduce it. These can help organisations simulate and monitor operational performance in real-time, understand the impact of future scenarios and net-zero interventions – prior to investment - and identify inefficiencies and improvements. This can support an efficiency first approach to decarbonising your building assets, setting your business on the path to net-zero while allowing you to identify cost savings and address concerns around employee comfort and productivity, energy security and fossil fuel divestment. This includes the ability to simulate the different ways in which to reduce your reliance on the grid, share energy locally and increase the capacity of renewable energy generation and storage.
While the task at hand may seem insurmountable, IES’ free Guide to Reducing Business Energy Costs provides a range of practical insights and a step-by-step guide to help businesses adopt an efficiency first approach for their buildings. Download your free copy here to find out more on how you can take control of your building’s energy use and set your business on track to meet its decarbonisation goals.