No (government) incentive required

Published:  27 July, 2015

The DECC is running out of money for renewable energy incentives. 

It was reported last week that the Department for Energy and Climate Change was running out of money to pay for renewable energy initiatives.

It begs the question, how did they not see this coming? It seems that the government has once again underestimated the take-up of new technologies.

Having already seen subsidies for offshore wind slashed and the abandonment of the zero carbon plan for domestic and non-domestic buildings, it’s clear that this administration won’t hesitate to swing the axe at other green initiatives which are clearly regarded as ‘nice-to-haves’ rather than absolute requirements.

It leads to uncertainty in the market, and leaves manufacturers, installers and potential end-users wondering if renewables are worth the trouble.

But in order to circumvent the roadblocks seemingly being dropped in the way of the route towards hitting the UK’s carbon emissions reduction targets, building owners and managers are better off looking for other areas to make the necessary savings in the carbon produced by our buildings.

Building controls offer just such an opportunity. And they’re unlikely to lose government funding, because they haven’t been given any…  Controls are generally installed in most non-dwellings, and are often an underutilised tool in the fight to save energy and carbon.

Measuring, monitoring and managing is the three-pronged approach to saving energy that won’t cost a fortune. Building controls even track their own savings – so it’s easy to calculate ROI and use those savings to invest further.

There is nothing wrong at all in using renewable energy, and encouraging its take up. Incentives are enormously helpful in moving planners, installers and clients away from the usual way of doing things and taking a bit of a risk in trying out green tech. But building controls are there and they’re a major source of untapped potential.

Identifying patterns where plant runs unnecessarily, users use control panels ineffectively and educating each level of the building’s occupants from owners to occupants about how to effect change in these areas will improve a building’s energy performance.

There are no government carrots being dangled to encourage use of building controls – but there are some sticks: ESOS and the minimum energy standards being just two. Add to this the rising cost of energy and that should be incentive enough. 

Karen Fletcher is Director of Keystone Communications. 

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