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Energy efficiency 'has boosted economy by £1.7bn'

Energy efficiency 'has boosted economy by £1.7bn'

Energy efficiency 'has boosted economy by £1.7bn'

Companies that are still not convinced on the business case for investing in energy efficiency could be swayed by recent research showing the economic benefits of spending in this area.

The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) released new analysis showing that energy efficiency investments in the industrial, services and domestic sectors boosted UK productivity by £1.7 billion between 2010 and 2015. These sectors also saved enough energy to heat 13 million homes over the same period.

Nine organisations - including industrial manufacturers and environmental groups like Greenpeace - collaborated to produce the 2016 UK Energy Productivity Audit.

The report showed that, despite the economic benefits, the efficiency of the UK electricity supply has been fairly flat, improving by only two percentage points in the last five years. The country's total electricity bill was around £140 billion last year - the equivalent of 7.6 per cent of the economy.

Looking at the European picture, the research suggested that Germany, the Netherlands and France have all made better progress than the UK on energy efficiency policy since 2011. One of the conclusions was that "far more significant energy productivity improvements" are needed if Britain is to meet its long-term climate objectives.

Commenting on the study, Dr Tim Rotheray, director of the ADE, stressed that energy is a "vital input" for the UK economy. Enhancing energy productivity makes it possible to use the same or less energy to gain better results.

"Despite limited policy focus, the industrial, services and domestic sectors have made substantial energy efficiency gains, yet over 60 per cent of energy in the power sector is lost before it reaches homes and businesses," he added.

"With our commitment to the Paris Agreements and Carbon Budgets, the UK is poised to create a low-carbon, competitive economy, but we must support energy productivity to meet these goals."

Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, encouraged businesses to focus not only on the performance of their workforce, but the productivity of raw materials like energy as well.

"Making more out of the energy we have to use in offices and factories will deliver lower imports and lower carbon," he said. "So it ought to be a starting point for new infrastructure and should be a focus of both the Autumn Statement and expected Industrial Strategy."

Many office-based businesses have a lot of scope to make positive changes to energy consumption and workplace behaviours to enhance efficiency. Conducting an energy audit, replacing traditional light bulbs with efficient alternatives and encouraging employees to use office printers only when necessary could all contribute to improved sustainability and environmental performance.

As well as focusing on internal standards and processes, office managers should be sure to consider the green credentials of any third parties they decide to work with. This might include cleaning companies, delivery firms or catering providers.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock Solitude72