FAQs Frequently Asked Questions
Who are ESTA and how can its members help me?
The Energy Services and Technology Association (ESTA) is a trade body made up of members that either manufacture energy efficient products and technologies or provide services aimed at improving demand side energy efficiency in all sectors. ESTA has over 100 member companies and represents the views of these members to Government and other stakeholders. Led by an elected council of members it provides an unrivalled knowledge and skill base available to all.
ESTA members provide a range of technologies and services aimed at reducing energy use and lowering carbon footprints for organisations of all shapes and sizes throughout the UK.
ESTA members’ core competency is in providing successful energy management solutions and implementation.
Where can I find a list of ESTA Member ESOS Lead Assessors?
For a list of ESTA Members who have qualified ESOS Lead Assessors please click on the pdf link below:
What is the Energy performance of Buildings Directive EPBD?
The EPBD is a European level initiative to reduce the carbon footprint and energy use in buildings. Its final implementation in each of the Member States in 4 January 2009.
In the UK, the implementation of the EPBD is via several of separate policy and laws covering:
- Building Regulations Part L – overall 25% reduction in the carbon footprint of new and refurbished buildings. Introduced in 2006, this is the CURRENT regulation. Part L and related official documents.
- Energy Performance Certificates
- Display Energy Certificates
- Plant inspections: Air-Conditioning - based on CIBSE TM44
- Advice for improvement of boiler and heating installation. Government advice and checklists.
Visit www.communities.gov.uk/epbd for more details.
Further relevant information can also be found at DIAG Directive Implementation Advisory Group of which ESTA is a founder member and sponsor.
Devolved administrations: Wales and England are implementing identically. Northern Ireland is using a very similar approach.
Scotland is implementing the EPBD differently with EPCs using a different format and also being used for public display and valid for 10 years rather than 1 year. ESTA’s view is that the cost of producing the EPCs for display in Scotland will be significantly higher but they will last longer. The implementation is managed by Scottish Building Standards and the details are contained in the Non-Domestic Technical Handbook Section 6 Energy.
What are Energy Performance Certificates [EPCs] and do they apply to my building?
EPCs certify the energy performance of a building as it was designed and/or constructed. Certificates show the building’s performance on a scale of A to G, with A being the most efficient and G the least. Certificates are being introduced in phases for non-residential building from April 2008 with all new buildings over 50m² requiring a certificate from October 2008. In addition any building sold or let also needs a valid certificate. Certificates are valid for 10 years and include a Recommendation Report detailing the measure that can be taken to improve the energy performance of the building. EPCs can only be produced by an accredited assessor.
What are Display Energy Certificates (DECs) and do they apply to my building?
DECs certify the energy performance and carbon footprint of a building in its day to day operation. In addition, DECs also show how the building compares to national benchmarks for similar buildings. They are additional to EPCs.
DECs are legally required for publicly funded buildings over 1000m² that are visited by the public. This requirement comes into force on 1 October 2008, must be displayed in a prominent position on show to the public and will be policed by local Trading Standards. There are fines for non-compliance.
DECS are valid for 1 year and buildings therefore must be reassessed annually. Similar to EPCs, only accredited assessors can produce a DEC. DECs also include an Advisory Report that sets out measures that may improve the energy performance of the building.
The Government has committed to consult on extending this requirement to the private sector and a number of private sector companies have also chosen to obtain and display these certificates as a measure of good practice.
What is the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and will it apply to my building?
The CRC is a new scheme introduced in April 2010. Aimed at reducing the carbon emissions of non-energy intensive organisations throughout the UK, the CRC is expected to effect about 5,000 organisations in both the public and private sector.
Whether the CRC applies to your organisation depend upon the amount of half-hour metered electricity being used across your estate of buildings [both mandatory and voluntary/elective]. If this exceeds 6,000 MWh annually then your organisation’s entire energy use will be subject to the CRC. The qualification year for this assessment is was 2008 and equates approximately to an electricity energy spend around £500k.
Simplification of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. The CRC EES has provided a great incentive to introduce energy efficiency measures into businesses in order to reduce carbon emissions. The scheme, which has undergone many changes since its conception and subsequent launch has recently undergone a consultation into simplifying it further.
Proposals have been developed following stakeholder feedback with a view to simplifying it and substantially reducing the associated administrative burdens. An amendment order has allowed the postponement of the second phase in order to engage with stakeholders and understand implications of new proposals which will take effect from the start of phase two of the scheme.
Key parts to the proposals include the introduction of two fixed price sales of allowances; reducing the reporting of the number of fuels from 29 to 4 ( i.e. electricity, gas, gas oil (diesel) and kerosene ); using only electricity measured by settled Half Hourly Meters for qualification purposes; and removing the requirement to produce footprint reports and reducing the requirements on maintaining records.
A further issue for consultation has been the overlap with other schemes and so a proposal to remove the need for organisations completely covered by CCAs to register as well as removing the need for EUETS installations to purchase allowances for electricity supplies are being considered.
It should be noted that these changes are proposals via consultation and until legislation is passed to the contrary the current CRC framework remains. Changes to be made as a result of the latest consultation will be drafted through affirmative orders prior to the start of the second phase in April 2013.
It is expected that a Government response to the consultation will be issued late Summer.
For the latest information visit (http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/emissions/crc_efficiency/crc_efficiency.aspx)
What is the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and does if effect my organisation?
The EU ETS is a Europe wide scheme, which aims to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and combat the serious threat of climate change. EU ETS puts a price on carbon that businesses use and creates a market for carbon.
It has been in place since 2005 and is the first scheme of its kind in the world. Now in its second phase of operation, the UK Government’s aim of an 8 MtCarbon saving (29 MtCO2) each year from 2008 until 2012 has now been approved by the EU Commission.
With this target in mind emissions allocations are distributed to installations within the scheme, these include heavy industries such as electricity generation, refineries, iron and steel making, mineral processing and paper and pulp manufacture however an combustion process (i.e. a boiler installation) with a rated thermal input exceeding 20 MW is also covered by the EU ETS.
Installations covered by the scheme are required to monitor and report their emissions. At the end of each year they must surrender allowances to cover their installation’s actual emissions. They may use all or part of their allocation and have the flexibility to buy additional allowances or to sell any surplus allowances generated from reducing their emissions below their allocation.
What is the Renewable Obligation and how might it effect my organisation?
The Renewable Obligation (RO) is a mechanism designed to stimulate an increase in renewable forms of electricity generation. It requires every power generation company to produce a proportion of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar or wave/tidal etc. Every megawatt of electricity generated from an applicable renewable source receives a certificate, with certificates being used to prove a generator has met their Renewable Obligation.
Certificates can be traded with generation companies selling surplus certificates or buying certificates to match their obligation. Because of this renewable electricity effectively sells at a premium price which in turn is then reflected in the price paid by all consumers.
Currently the RO requires generating companies to source 7.9% of their generation capacity from renewable sources. This will rise to 15% by 2015. Although individual consumers pay for the costs associated with the RO it also provides opportunities for organisation to generate onsite renewable electricity as sell the resulting RO certificates however, this requires careful analysis and every project should be assessed on an individual basis.
What is Part L of the Building Regulations and how might it apply to my building?
The latest edition of Part L was introduced in April 2006 and saw the introduction of target CO2 emission rates for buildings. This tightening of performance criteria for building fabric, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and lighting systems such that a naturally ventilated building will need to be 23% more efficient and, an air-conditioned building 28% more efficient than under the previous regulations.
Part L applies to all buildings although separate regulations cover dwellings and non-dwellings as well as new build and the refurbishment or alteration of an existing building. All new buildings need to be constructed in accordance with Part L however, Part L generally only applies to alteration of an existing building over 1000m2 unless the modification is increasing the capacity of the installed fixed building services or adding fixed building services where none were present originally.
What are a Target Emissions Rating (TER) and Building Emissions Rating (BER)?
Approval for building regulations is now based on the ‘whole building emissions’. This gives designers flexibility to decide how to meet the overall target.
A Target Emissions Rating (TER) is the target that the actual building design must equal or better in order to gain building approval. The TER is the mass of carbon dioxide emitted per year per square meter of useful floor area (kg/m2/year) based on a notional building of similar size and construction. Calculation of the TER must be in accordance with the methods detailed in Part L.
The Building Emissions Rating (BER) is the emissions rating calculated under Part L for the building as it has actually been designed. Once again the method of calculation is detailed in Part L but the BER must be equal to or less than the TER to gain a completion certificate from the Building Control Officer.
What is the Simplified Building Energy Model (SBEM)?
SBEM is one of two approved methods calculating both TER and BER figures for use with Part L.
Although SBEM is a relatively simple method, it is still necessary to be trained in order to use it correctly.
For more complex buildings it is possible to use approved Dynamic Simulation Models [DSM].
What are Enhanced Capital Allowances and how can I benefit from them?
Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) is a fiscal measure designed to reward companies that invest in energy efficient products. Part of the taxation system, companies making a profit and paying corporation tax can claim 100% of the cost of installing particular products in the year of installation rather than having to depreciate it over following years. The measure is currently worth about 5-6% of the product purchase price. To gain the ECA the product installed must meet the criteria published on the Energy Technology List (ETL) administered on behalf of the Treasury by the Carbon Trust.
In the 2008 budget, claims where extended to loss making companies so that those struggling in difficult financial circumstances can still invest in the most efficient technologies.
Public sector organisations cannot directly claim ECAs. However, provision of an Energy Centre through a CEM/ESCO companies can incorporate the fiscal benefit of ECAs within an energy services contract with a public body. Many public bodies use the list as a procurement tool.
Annual Investment Allowance AIA : each company has an allowance of £50,000 pa on which it can claim 100% capital depreciation. This means that for many organisations they can invest in energy saving equipment and get 100% tax allowance in the first year without reference to the Energy Technology List. The AIA and the £50,000 applies to all capital investment not just energy saving product.
What is the Energy Technology List?
The Energy Technology List (ETL) is a list of approved technologies and products that, following their purchase and installation can be claimed under the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme. ESTA has been very active in several of the technologies adopted on the ETL and many members have products listed in the ETL.
Is product or technology NOT on the Energy Technology List inefficient?
No! The ETL only includes technologies and products approved by the Carbon Trust. Exclusion of a technology or product does not mean that product is inefficient.
A technology NOT on the list can still be the best available technology for the application. The ETL/ECA scheme is intended to support product areas that have a commercial barrier to wider use. Once well established technologies and products may be removed as the application is commercially viable without tax incentives. Therefore, technologies that are current best practice and economic to implement now will NOT be on the ETL.
Technology categories are updated annually and as a result newly developed technologies often have to wait for assessment and approval. Equally, many technologies find it difficult to obtain approval due to the rules of the scheme.
For example, building energy management systems (BEMS) are not an approved technology despite the fact that BEMS is a proven energy management tool. The reason is simply that ECA rules require any approved products to be energy saving ‘off the shelf’, as it leaves the factory ad be dedicated to the energy saving functions. BEMS are excluded as they are programmed for the specific application and that may include functions that are not themselves energy saving e.g. security.
What is Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) and what are its benefits?
Automatic meter reading (AMR) is the term applied to the automatic reading of consumption data from metering devices such as water, gas, electricity and heat and the transfer of that data to a central database for billing, analysis and use for energy management.
AMR normally allows bills to be based on actual consumption rather than on an estimate, giving consumers better control of their energy use while avoiding billing errors and/or inappropriate charging. AMR technologies include handheld, mobile and network technologies based on telephone platforms (fixed line or mobile), radio frequency, or powerline transmission.
What is Automatic Monitoring and Targeting (aM&T) and what are its benefits?
aM&T is a management system that automatically collects energy consumption data and analyses this data to ensure energy use is in line with targets set by the user. aM&T includes the meters, automatic data collection, database collation, analysis and presentation.
aM&T automatically delivers useable energy management information to the person(s) who can make changes.
Most aM&T systems allow the user to set targets for energy use and review current performance against these targets. Many systems automatically produce variation reports and notify users of potential problems by e-mail or text message.
Today many systems are web based and can be extended to cover consumption of other utilities in addition to the traditional electricity and gas use e.g. water, fuel oil, steam etc. Typically the application of aM&T can lead to savings of c.5% although often even greater savings can be enjoyed on individual sites. Many users are instantly surprised at the level of avoidable energy waste that they identify.
How can apply energy meters to specific items of plant or equipment or to measure specific areas of my building?
Known as secondary meters these meters can be easily installed in a range of applications. Available to measure water, electricity, gas, oil, steam, heat and many other applications these meters are available from a number of ESTA members.
Many include technology to allow these meters to be remotely read and incorporated into a wider automatic monitoring and targeting system (aM&T). Ease of installation will vary depending on the meter type and what it is measuring. For example, secondary electricity meters can often be installed within a few minutes, without disrupting any existing wiring whereas a secondary gas meter needs installing in the gas line by an approved installer.
How can I remotely read my on-site utility meters?
Many, but not all existing utility meters can already be read remotely or include the equipment necessary to allow remote monitoring. This can be checked either with your meter provider or by inspecting the meter yourself. Alternatively contact one of ESTA’s members for advice.
An existing meter suitable for remote connection will normally have an output of some description. This may be an optical port on an electricity meter or simple pulsed outputs form other types of meters. A counter can then be fitted to the meter together with a transmission device of some kind. Alternatively many other devices exist to read and transmit meter data remotely however, it best to seek advice from a specialist. As a final alternative a replacement meter can be fitted than provide a remote reading capability.
What is a smart-meter?
A smart-meter is one of a new generation of new metering technology that automatically reads and transmits its consumption data to a remote location of automatic monitoring and targeting system. Many smart-meters can also analyse the consumption and provide enhanced data to the user e.g. carbon footprint.
What is a Building Energy Management System (BEMS) and what are its benefits?
A BEMS is an automatic control system designed to control and monitor the heating, ventilation and air conditioning services within a building. They are very common place and can be found in many buildings of all shapes and sizes throughout the UK. Often a BEMS will include supervisory software either running on a dedicated PC. This software provides a window into the system allows building managers to supervise the management of their systems, alter setpoints and review performance. A well engineered and maintained BEMS is capable of delivering high levels of energy efficiency
What are Variable Speed Drives (VSD) and what are their benefits?
A variable speed drive (VSD) or variable frequency drive is a system for controlling the rotational speed of an AC electric motor by controlling the frequency of the electrical power supplied to the motor. Variable speed drives are also known as adjustable frequency drives (AFD), variable frequency drives (VFD), AC drives, microdrives or inverter drives.
Since the voltage is varied along with frequency, these are sometimes also called VVVF (variable voltage variable frequency) drives. VSDs save energy as the power provided to the motor is reduced according to load. For example, using a drive with a 30 kilowatt (kW) motor running 5,000 hours a year to control the air flow in a ventilation system brings an annual saving of 76,500 kW hours of electricity compared with regulating the flow rate by adjusting a damper.
What is a Voltage Optimisation or Reduction Device?
The supply voltages to sites can vary dramatically over time and the distribution of electricity on site can further affect voltage e.g. a building at the far end of the site may have a much lower voltage than the site supply. This seriously affects the efficiency of rated equipment and savings are possible.
Voltage reduction devices are often applied to the site supply, individual building supply and individual areas of equipment such as lighting. The concept makes use of the fact that all electrical devices are designed to operate at main voltage [today usually 220 v ac] within a tolerance. By reducing the voltage to the minimum permitted within the design tolerance the power used can be reduced thus saving energy without affecting the performance of the energy consuming equipment. Most devices allow systems to start on unreduced voltages and then control the voltage once stable operation has been achieved.
What is Combined Heat & Power (CHP)?
Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or Cogeneration is the simultaneous generation of both heat and electricity from a single unit of fuel. Normally CHP plants are installed on the site consuming the thermal and electrical energy however, larger scale plants also exist. These may be used to provide heat into a district heating network and electricity into the national grid.
CHP is widely seen as low carbon technology as it is a very efficient mean of generation. In fact CHP is supported by a number of fiscal measures both in the UK and overseas. Various technologies of CHP exist that provide output capacities from just a few kilowatts to hundreds of megawatts. Technologies include sterling engines, gas reciprocating engines, gas and steam turbines. Fuels include natural gas and fuel oil but, other fuels such as biomass, municipal waste and bio-diesel are also now available.
As CHP tends to generate more thermal energy than electricity applications for CHP are generally found in buildings with both a high and fairly constant demand for heat e.g. swimming pools or industrial process. In the UK CHP has a wide installed base with over 9,000 MWe in operation, although only 5,000 MWe is classed a good quality CHP. Over 1000 schemes are installed in buildings, generating in excess of 335 MWe and the UK potential for building applied CHP is estimated by DEFRA to be as high as 1,250 MWe.
What is a condensing boiler and why is it energy efficient?
A condensing boiler is a hot water heating device designed to recover energy normally lost to the atmosphere through the flue. When a condensing boiler is working at peak efficiency the water vapour produced by the burning of gas or oil in the boiler condenses back into liquid water - hence the name ‘condensing boiler’. The condensation of these exhaust gases releases the latent heat of vapourisation of the water, in effect this used the flue gases to help heat the water within the boiler.
How can occupancy control of building’s lighting system make it more efficient?
Electrical devices like lights only consume electricity when switch on. By linking lighting systems to some for of occupancy control the time during which a light is on can be limited hence saving energy. Occupancy devices include simple timeclocks that provide a time based on/off profile for a building, area of room or the provision of presence technology that uses infra-red or ultrasonic sensors to determine if an area is occupied, automatically switching on or off the lights as necessary.
What is daylight linking in the context of lighting control?
Ambient light through windows or skylights provides free high quality light to the interior of buildings. However, it is very common to see artificial lights still switch on within a building even when it is sunny outside. Daylight linking technology makes use of sensors to measure the strength of any ambient light available and automatically dim or switch off artificial lights to save energy.
What is an Energy Services Company or ESCO?
An ESCO is an organisation responsible for delivering energy to an individual building, a complex of buildings or even a wider group of consumers such as in a district or community heating system. Unlike conventional utility suppliers delivering electricity and/or gas ESCOs generally provide heating, hot water, cooling and other energy such as process steam in addition to or alongside electricity and/or gas.
Normally an ESCO type contract sees the ESCO taking responsibility for the generation of on-site energy including investment in and maintenance of new or existing plant and contracts may also include an element of guaranteed performance. Although widely used in industrial and larger commercial applications e.g. hospitals, Energy Services are gaining increased popularity in urban developments. In these instances community heating/cooling systems are being contracted to ESCOs with the aim of delivering more sustainable, lower emission solutions. The more traditional term of Contract Energy Management (CEM) should be seen as a form of ESCO contract with many CEM providers being Energy Services Companies.
What is Contract Energy Management (CEM)?
Normally a CEM type contract sees a company taking responsibility for the generation of on-site energy, including investment in and maintenance of new or existing plant. Contracts may also include an element of guaranteed performance.
Although widely used in industrial and larger commercial applications e.g. hospitals, contract energy management is also applicable to a much wider range of buildings. In addition many companies are also offering energy management contracts covering aspects of building’s services such as BEMS systems or aM&T. For most practical purposes CEM is similar to ESCOs and Performance Contracting
What is an energy audit?
Many organisations and individual consultants offer energy audits. Some are a chargeable service while others can be obtained free of charge, for example from the Carbon Trust. In principal all audits are trying to assess the same thing but in practice audits can vary greatly in their scope and outcome.
An energy audit is intended to review your energy use, identify areas of waste and outline the measures that can be taken to reduce this waste. Many companies offer audits as a means of promoting their products or services and although it does not automatically follow that such an audit is worthless you should bear in mind that the scope of the audit may not be as comprehensive as one carried out by an independent assessor.
Carbon Trust audits offer a more comprehensive review but again can offer limited outcomes as suggested measures tend to be generic in nature and rarely point you the direction of specific solutions and/or suppliers.
Audits by an independent energy consultant are more likely to be the most comprehensive but again you should check the assessors’ areas of expertise to ensure this matches your needs. Independent audits are more likely to be chargeable. Another alternative would be to seek accreditation under the Carbon Trust Standard [previously Energy Efficiency Accreditation Scheme] which includes a detailed audit and ongoing assistance for a capped fee.
How can I tell if my building is losing heat unnecessarily through it walls, roof and/or windows?
The normal sign of problems will be unexpected variation in energy bills, particularly gas bills where the heating is provided by natural gas boilers for example. However, in an older building these changes may be too subtle to see easily or the bills are already high without any obvious sign of deterioration.
In either circumstance a quick way of assessing the thermal performance of the building is to use a hand held thermal imaging cameral. Such a device will quickly show you where heat is escaping and which areas are worse than others. Cameras are available to buy but many companies also rent the devices for short-term use, ideal for this application.
How can I ensure I am paying the best price for my energy?
All consumers of energy have the right to switch supplier and seek the best deal on offer. Although this can be done independent of an intermediary many organisations prefer to work with an intermediary to gain the best deal.
Utility brokers and intermediaries offer access to a wide range of energy suppliers through a single source, can tender your supply contract and have access to special rates or provide buying consortia for specific business types or institutions. In addition they can manage billing queries and validation as well as offering other complimentary services such as automatic meter reading, smart metering and energy trading for particularly large consumers.
What are Degree Days and how are these used as part of an energy management plan?
Heating degree day (HDD) and cooling degree day (CDD) are quantitative indices designed to reflect the demand for energy needed to heat or cool a building. These indices are derived from daily temperature readings, and the heating (or cooling) requirements for a given building at a specific location are considered to be directly proportional to the number of heating degree days at that location.
In the UK, Heating degree days use a base temperature of 15.5 degC. When managing energy, degree days allow you to assess heating (or cooling) energy consumption. This is done by plotting and scatter graphs with monthly (or weekly) gas consumption on the X-axis against monthly (or weekly) degree day totals on the Y-axis. This should produce a diagonal trend line.
To assess the building’s energy consumption it can be said that any month with poor (high) energy consumption will appear above the line and months with better (low) energy consumption below. By continually plotting this graph an energy manager can assess the impact of actions taken and spot areas of waste.
How can I calculate a simple carbon footprint of my building’s energy use?
The carbon footprint of a building is beginning to have greater significance. For example carbon rating is calculated as part of the current Part L Building Regulations and form part of the requirements under Display Energy Certificates.
Each of these requirements lay down specific methods of assessment. However, many building managers still want to quickly assess the carbon footprint of their building’s energy use. The simplest method is to obtain energy bills (gas and electricity) for the same 12 month period over a number of years. To ensure an accurate assessment make sure the 12 months being analysed starts and ends with an actual meter reading. From the bills calculate the total kWh of electricity and gas consumed in the year. Multiply the kWh of electricity by 0.422, dividing the answer by 1000. This will give you the tonnes of CO2 produced by your electricity consumption. Next Multiply the kWh of gas consumed by 0.194, dividing the answer by 1000. This will give you the tonnes of CO2 produced by your gas consumption. By adding the electricity and gas CO2 tonnes together you will arrive at the total carbon footprint for your building energy use.
What renewable technologies can be easily applied to a building?
Many renewable technologies can be applied at a building level although most need careful assessment of both application and commercial viability before installation. Technologies applicable to buildings include: photovoltaic solar panels, solar water heating, ground source heat pumps, wind turbines, biomass boilers and CHP.
Technologies such as hydro-electric and wave or tidal power are very unlikely to be suitable at a building level. When designing or refurbishing buildings consideration should also be given to the use of natural ventilation, ambient light and any waste heat available locally to further reduce the building’s reliance on imported energy.
What is a low carbon technology?
A low carbon technology is one that during its operation either emits no carbon emissions or reduced the overall carbon emissions from the building in which it is installed. Low carbon technologies include a wide range of energy efficient products such as low energy lighting, building controls, variable speed drives, CHP and smart-meters as well as renewable technologies such as solar water heating, ground source heat pumps or biomass heating.
What is an energy efficient or low energy product?
Low energy products are normally high efficiency versions of conventional products. As low energy products they either directly consume less energy or deliver an energy saving by reducing the energy use of other energy consuming devices. Examples include, low energy light bulbs, CHP or building control systems.
Many products will soon be subject to new regulations covering the Energy Use by Products. This will set energy parameters, which will improve overall energy consumption. Most of us are already familiar with energy rating on light bulbs, fridges and cars. This directive will effectively extend the scope of products being rated.