COVID-19 has disrupted organisations for the best part of 2020. Whilst it is clear that the pandemic is not behind us, and 2021 has not started quite as we hoped, organisations can still utilise their energy data and tools to support their green ambitions and ongoing recovery. Using insights gained from the last year can inform and shape an energy and sustainability strategy that will support you through ongoing changes to heal and grow. To help you in your planning, TEAM Energy has asked some of their specialists to reflect on the challenges of the past ten months and offer their advice on how to set a path to your organisation’s recovery.
Embrace change and support green recovery, Greg Armstrong Principal Consultant
Rightly or wrongly, COVID has required us all to change the way we go about our everyday lives. The most obvious change has been the shift to home working. For businesses, who have had to facilitate systems to support home working, this could be the rare opportunity to begin the new age and support the Government’s ambition to a green recovery.
If you have transformed your business to support shift patterns or combined office and home working, now is the perfect time to adopt practices that actively monitor and manage your energy consumption, as opposed to taking a reactive stance. What does this mean? Actively look for issues and locations experiencing unexpected levels of consumption. Ensure adequate submetering is in place to facilitate new operations and allow you to have a full understanding of energy use within your organisation.
Review delayed projects, Timothy Holman, Head of Consultancy
Do you have any projects that were planned and ready to go that were delayed due to COVID? If so, it would be very prudent to check the project goals, the assumption made regarding energy savings and assess whether they are they still correct or relevant to your business objectives. The projected savings calculated for projects could be seriously affected by changes that have happened within your organisation, so, explore whether the projects could be adapted to complement these changes.
Check your accruals, Robert Webb, Bureau Operations Manager
Throughout 2020 we have witnessed, on behalf of our customers, some very erratic billing from suppliers. Some have introduced future billing over a six-month period, some have not billed for periods within 2020 at all. Potentially, there may be invoices you have not received for which you will later be charged, for water it is possible there are period with no occupancy that will never be invoiced and, you may also have prepaid water charges into 2021 already.
Whilst your 2020 energy spend may not reflect usual consumption or help you to forecast energy spend for 2021, it is important to get the most accurate picture of your energy consumption and spend. To do this, start the year with a reconciliation to avoid any surprises.
Use your historical data, Kim Gower, Customer Success Trainer
When thinking of budget setting or carbon reduction commitments, it is fair to say for most businesses 2020 was not a typical year for energy consumption. An energy management system, like Sigma, will have reporting features that offer year on year comparisons to allow you to review past consumption at a site or meter level.
Good reporting options will be customisable and go back as far as your billing history exists. So, report on your data as far back as it makes sense to do so to help you understand the effects of last year and establish typical trends over longer periods of time. Recognising that in the past year you may have produced less carbon emissions than expected, compare your emissions data through lockdown against the same period for the previous year, to get a clear and realistic idea of where to set the bar for 2021.
Let the data tell you the story, Tom Anderton, Head of Customer Success
It is likely that most of your businesses building portfolio has been affected by COVID. Therefore, a sense check of your data is crucial. Look at estimated readings and ensure the estimation is representative of what normal usage would be. Over estimations can not only be costly, they will reflect negatively in any environmental reporting that you do. Additionally, review the actual readings to look for evidence of unanticipated consumption; this may lead you to identify problems with building controls or system failures.
Align your business plan with your capacity, Helder Galrinho, Senior Energy Consultant
One of the most dramatic impacts of COVID has been on building occupancy, this may change the way your business operates permanently. If you are a large, high consuming business, now might be the time to review your Available Capacity. Adjusting your sites electricity available supply capacity can make a significant difference to your monthly utility spend. In some cases, where businesses have diversified, an assessment may help to avoid excess charges and fines.
Don’t lose sight of compliance obligations, Tracey Walsh, Energy Consultant
Whilst there have been concessions to help organisations through COVID, compliance reporting has not been one of them. Plan early for reporting to maximise accuracy and minimise errors. Missed deadlines and incomplete submissions can be costly and, particularly in the case of SECR, reflect badly on your organisation’s green credentials.
Consider energy behaviour change now, Sam Arje, Senior Energy Consultant
Over the past year, we have experienced one of the largest behaviour change movements in history. The pandemic has required us all to change the way we go about our everyday lives. Businesses have had to transform their operations almost overnight to accommodate new laws and regulations.
Compare what your organisation looks like now with last January, reflect on many of the positive elements that have come from enforced change. It is no mean feat to change the culture within an organisation. Now might just be an opportune time to change your organisation’s energy practices too and develop a behaviour change programme that can lead you to energy efficiency and sustainability success.
For most of us, disruption has made way for positive change, so do we need to go back to operating in the same ways as before? The pathway to a green recovery could transform your energy and sustainability management strategy in the long term and if your organisation is open to finding opportunities through change and adapting to new ways of working, the road to net zero could be closer than you think.