How to improve energy efficiencies in buildings

  • techUK techUK
    Friday18Jan 2019
    Consultation responses

    In our response to the BEIS Select Committee energy efficiency inquiry we highlight how smart technologies can go a long way to making buildings use energy more...

Back in November the BEIS Committee in Parliament launched an inquiry into how the UK can improve energy efficiency in buildings. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings can go a long way in helping the UK lower energy bills and meet increasingly tough carbon budgets. 

This parliamentary inquiry follows on from BEIS' own Clean Growth Consultations last year and targets to get all homes Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rated C by 2030. These are deliberately tough targets, but we beleive that deploying the right smart technology in homes and commercial premises can go along way to delivering these targets without the need for potentially disruptive and expensive regulation in the property and building sectors. 

In our response we make a number of recommendations for different building ownership models and these are below. 

For private homeowners:

  • Maintain momentum and communicate the benefits of smart metering. Smart meters are a key part of delivering a smart and flexible energy system. 
  • Support new technologies like heat pumps. Air and Ground Source Heat Pumps can reduce energy bills but take up has been low.
  • Interest free loans for efficient smart appliances. Government could provide interest free loans for smart devices with proven energy efficiency.
  • Raise consumer awareness of the energy saving benefits of smart appliances. Given that smart appliances use less energy, a public awareness campaign of the energy saving benefits may be one way to increase take up.
  • Create the right environment and infrastructure for a demand side response service. Such a service, either acting as an exchange platform or service linking to dynamic tariffs and smart metering technology.

For private rentals:

  • VAT-relief for smart-home technology purchased by landlords. To help overcome the cost barrier for smart appliance adoption.
  • Green buy to let mortgages/insurance policies. Green mortgages are offered in the UK, though for landlords there may be benefits of green versions of other financial services.

For businesses:

  • Efficiency vouchers for SMEs. SME cash flow concerns mean they are less likely to invest in efficiency solutions than large companies.
  • Take a whole systems approach to incentives. Any new incentive system of relief or incentives needs to apply to software and whole systems, not just a single product.
  • Incentivise landlords. Offices and commercial promises are mostly rented rented, so landlords need incentives to invest.
  • Go smart from the outset. Building efficiency and smart technologies is cheaper and better from the outset compared to retrofitting existing premise.
  • Align policy with investment cycles. Different sectors have different investment cycles, so expecting industry, particularly heavy industry, to become more efficient is only workable if expectation and technology readiness are aligned with investment cycles.

The response also identified several barriers to successfully rlling out smart tech and investments in efficiency, namely: 

  • Take a long-term view. Many public sector organisations do not have the budget, or mandate to make long term estate investments with high upfront costs.
  • Poor interoperability. Ensuring the grid, devices, building systems and all the software that works between that exchanges data, makes changes and acts on the right information is essential. 
  • Digital skills and cyber security. Users and building managers need the skills and confidence in the security of their products to use them effectively.
  • Connectivity. Some of the least efficient premises are in areas with poor digital connectivity (mobile and broadband), so there needs to be ubiquitous connectivity.
  • Lack of trust/acceptance in new technologies. There is no one approach to how companies adopt technology but proving to business decision makers who are satisfied with current processes that a new, digital way is better is challenging.
  • Create and promote demand side response service. This would make it easy for landlords to offer energy management functionality.

You can download our response below and get in touch if this is an area you would like to work with us on.

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