Carbon Reduction Commitment – keeping the momentum going

It is nearly a year since we started down the road of the Carbon Reduction Commitment and things have moved on quite a bit since then.   After much delay the appropriate paperwork was sent out to the qualifying companies and the registration period has arrived.  However, it would appear from various reports on the web that only about 13% of the aforementioned companies have registered.  The good news for us is that the first part of our application has been started, but I guess that is just the start.

For those of you that have missed out on all the news relating to CRC (somehow) there is an early action league table which was introduced to pacify all those companies that had put time and money into reducing their energy usage before the start of the CRC season.  There are only two parts to this though, one is to introduce automated metering (which we have, but which is fraught with its own problems and not always reliable) and the other is to apply for the Carbon Trust standard.

The Carbon Trust standard is good in many ways; it requires a continuous commitment to reduction (going back over three years) and that awareness is maintained at an individual level – they will audit one or more sites to see what is in place.  (The bad news is that it costs in the region of £12k to apply with assistance – a worthwhile investment, but not always easy to make the powers that be see the light!)

So, how do you maintain energy awareness?  I think this is one of the hardest things to do as there are often other things that take priority – after all, which site manager does not have a to do list longer than tailbacks on the M6?  When you are spending half a million pounds or more on electricity, how easy is it to persuade individuals that turning off a couple of 18W light fittings will make all the difference?  When you have done the easy projects and turn to the ones that will cost money or payback over more than 12 months how convinced are you that the justification is worth the effort if capital expenditure is being squeezed?

We are planning to run some shorter energy awareness sessions (by we, I mean I will be planning and delivering them).  I am hoping to be able to relate the spends on site to things that individuals can relate to, and not to just talk about cost cutting, but more about waste in general.  I know that there are already a number of converts, but some that will never be convinced, but I have seen at Daventry that the middle 40% can be made to think about their energy use at work.  I will let you know how successful the sessions are.

In addition to that I am displaying the energy data that is sent through each week, with an explanation where possible if there are sudden peaks or troughs, and I am putting together some more meaningful data to show the trend in usage month by month as well as a comparison to last year.  I am also resorting to the occasional bit of nagging gentle reminding so that people don’t just walk past things that have been left on – I have even noticed a growing tendency to turn lights off in the warehouse!  Once you start to think about it there are many ways to keep the momentum going, some of them even cost money.

I guess that the gist of my message is that although it appears that there may be resistance – as they say, it is futile and eventually the barriers will come down – it is just a case of thinking of different ways to get the message across – threats are not always necessary! Once bad habits are banished you from the majority the few left to be convinced will probably go along with the rest – good old peer pressure.

Next on my hitlist is a reduction in the outdoor lighting – I am in the middle of some surveys so will update you when I get some quotes.

Crikey – The Carbon Reduction Energy Efficiency Scheme is nearly upon us.

So, if you work in a Company that consumes a large amount of power you have probably heard the initials CRC banded about, and know that the start date of the government’s latest attempt at reducing electricity consumption is almost here (1st April).

I work for just such a company, and am part of a steering committee tasked with ensuring that we are compliant and that we are taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint.  However, this is not an easy thing to coordinate without having someone dedicated to ensure that it happens and we could be doing it better.  I thought that I would write a few blog posts to record the things that work well and the areas in which we can improve.  Whilst I am not sure anyone in the Corporate world would approve of such altruistic actions, as it could affect our league position, we could also improve by learning from our own mistakes.

So, firstly what is the CRCEE (as it is now called) scheme.  Well, if you don’t know by now, it is perhaps a little late – but it is not always disseminated down to those who can really make a difference  i.e. those who can turn the lights off and run the equipment that uses the electricity.  I prepared a couple of posters for the start of the Switch Off campaign so that everyone might have an idea of what it is all about and why energy efficiency has suddenly become a buzzword.  You can download them here if you like – CARBON REDUCTION COMMITMENT ENERGY EFFICIENCY SCHEME_EM.  Even those who have heard about it seem to be confused, so I have included a brief outline of timelines.

The scheme is part of the Climate Change Act (CCA) and is aimed at large consumers of electricity that are not already subject to the CCA or part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (therefore not electricity suppliers).  It will work on the allocation of carbon credits – so polluters pay, but is supposed to be non-revenue generating and therefore not a tax, those saving the most money will get the most money back.  However, as with all things these days, there is a lot of paperwork to be completed (think of the trees) and it therefore pays to be organised and set up some systems for data capture in advance – something I am working on at the moment.

The government has made a few changes, and so it is always a good idea to check the website out for the latest guidance.  Unfotunately, it has been mired in confusion for the past year, the forms weren’t sent out on time, there was a worry about finding the cash up front for two years’ worth of credits, some companies wanted recognition for their early efforts to reduce energy usage (otherwise companies were holding off any changes whilst waiting for the appropriate year in order to improve their league table position), and others didn’t seem to have a clue – mainly government departments from what I can gather from the web discussions.  So, in response, there is now no longer the requirement to buy two years’ worth of credits – only one is required and an early action league table.   (Unfortunately the only way to do well on this is to gain the Carbon Trust Standard  – which takes a year and involves at least two years of energy efficiency improvements, and to install automatic metering.) There is now more discussion on the internet about CRCEE and also, a lot more  companies willing to take your money to ‘help’ you improve your energy usage.

The first actions in the scheme involve collation of all the necessary data, then, the fun begins and, hopefully, energy efficiency takes centre stage.

Going forward I will outline the things we have tried at work with regards to improving our energy efficiency – some are the so-called low hanging fruit, some will involve a little more thought, some will require capital investment and all will need a great deal of persuasion from those both above and below me within the Company.