“the UK’s legally-binding climate change targets will not be met without the near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings,” – Energy & Carbon Management explores how housing associations can respond to the net zero challenge.
Most organisations recognise the advantages of adopting a long-term energy strategy, in terms of the opportunities and savings it can provide. But without the resources and expertise, developing an effective energy strategy can feel like an impossible task.
Today’s competitive and complex energy markets have generated a host of utility experts, all eager to help you find a good deal but finding the right consultant can be tricky. So, what should you look for when choosing a consultant?
- Independent market expertise
Working with an independent consultant means you’ll get an informed and unbiased comparison of all suppliers. Look for a consultant who has access to a wide range of price books, as well as long-standing relationships with suppliers as this makes them best placed to find the optimum price for your energy.
When it comes to procurement, finding the best priced contracts requires an in-depth knowledge of the UK energy market, its complex tariff structures, the many energy suppliers and their differing contract types. An experienced consultant can provide the market insight needed to set up optimal purchasing strategies, while managing energy cost risk.
Furthermore, you should check that the consultant has a proven track record within the public sector. Not only will this ensure that they can offer a fully compliant route to market, but they will also understand the unique challenges and opportunities that your organisation faces.
- Quality and transparent service
Find a consultant who offers you direct access to one point of contact or a Relationship Manager for complete consistency. Once a relationship is established, your consultant should remain proactive, continually monitoring market changes to ensure that their customers get the best value.
When it comes to fees, ensure that your consultant has a clear pricing structure. Some consultants will take undisclosed fees from customers, so transparency here is key. Ideally, you should get your consultant to provide a warranty that fees are fully disclosed.
- Large range of solutions to suit your organisation
A good consultant should offer a wide range of different services. This indicates a broad understanding of the market, and an ability and willingness to meet all their customers’ needs. From invoice validation and void management, to sustainability and energy reduction strategies, you want to be confident that when it comes to utilities, your consultant has the scale and experience to handle it all for you.
PfH works in partnership with Energy & Carbon Management (E&CM) to help social housing providers decipher the complexities of the UK energy market. We offer a range of compliant procurement options, to ease the burden of energy management. For more information, get in touch:
T: 0330 166 4444
In the current climate, many organisations are looking to control costs where they can, while also making progress towards a more sustainable future. But when energy isn’t your speciality, it can be incredibly difficult to stay on top of it all – that’s where we can help.
We’ve put together an overview of the five main utility challenges likely to be affecting your organisation and the solutions available to combat them.
- Portfolio Management
Managing a large, complex, and diverse estate can be hard work and requires a large resource, which is not always readily available. We understand that problems with changes of tenancy and ownership are a common cause of overpayments to suppliers within the sector but outsourcing your energy management can take away this hassle.
At E&CM we’re familiar with all suppliers’ processes for site changes and will manage Changes of Tenancy (CoTs), providing your supplier with the information they need in the correct format and timescales to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibility. We can also take care of void supplies, ensuring that the supply does not fall onto default.
- Incorrect billing
75% of bills have incurred overcharges in the last six years so the chances are that you’ve been incorrectly charged for your energy. It’s easy to miss inaccuracies given the time it takes to check each bill and the in-depth understanding required to get it right.
If you haven’t done so already, you can enlist the services of an energy consultant to identify billing errors and recover lost money – during these uncertain times this could be a welcome cash injection to your business.
- Finding the right buying strategy
Often overlooked as it requires in-depth understanding, your buying strategy is critical or you could end up paying additional or undisclosed broker fees, high supplier margins or get limited product functionality. Do your research, understand your energy usage and speak to an expert to ensure you have the right strategy in place.
As the preferred sub-contractor for the management of energy on the PfH framework, we are fully compliant to deliver the management of utility supplies for gas, NHH and HH electricity and water.
- Keeping on track with compliance
We all know that change is coming, with OJEU being phased out in the UK after 31st December 2020. Ensuring your procurement strategy is compliant is crucial, and with E&CM you can choose a framework that is 100% compliant with public procurement rules, giving you piece of mind.
- Reaching net zero
Unfortunately, there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to this. Every organisation operates differently and will need to play its part for us to achieve net zero by 2050. This may feel like a long time away, but most organisations will face a long journey towards carbon neutrality, so it’s best to get started as soon as possible.
If you don’t know where to start, E&CM can provide support, help you set targets and look at implementing your carbon reduction strategy.
E&CM currently work with over 30 housing providers. We understand the housing sector and have the utility solutions that will make your life easier and take the burden off your in-house team. For more information on how we can help, visit www.ecm.co.uk or get in touch:
T: 0330 166 4444
Social housing landlords face constant government pressure to meet and improve on sustainability targets. The added strain of rising energy prices has seen centralised boilers and district heating schemes become increasingly popular in multi-dwelling residences. A highly efficient, centralised heat source helps buildings meet sustainability initiatives, such as the GLA’s ‘Be Lean, Be Clean, Be Green’, and other building regulations. The integration of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant within the system further improves the building’s energy efficiency.
Heat Interface Units (HIUs), located within apartments, are integral to the centralised boiler approach. They connect the space heating and domestic hot-water systems to the central boiler network and provide control functions, control devices and measure heat consumption.
Sales of HIUs have grown 85% between 2012 and 2017, from under 25,000 units in 2012 to nearly 45,000 in 2017. This is still only a small proportion of the 1.6 million domestic boilers sold annually in the UK. With the Zero Carbon Policy coming into force in 2020, district heating and HIUs could be seen in up to 20% of all new build residences in the UK, with forecasts for 100% in multi-dwelling high rise buildings.
There are several benefits to landlords and property managers.
- Centralised systems do not require gas distribution to each flat. This means easier maintenance, less safety checks and lower fire risk.
- One boiler is contained in a single plantroom not in each dwelling. Engineers and facilities management can carry out maintenance and gas safety checks more easily.
- The heat distribution system is more efficient compared to individual boilers in each apartment.
- Energy efficient CHP units can be easily integrated.
The landlord, rather than the utility company, bills the tenant. Third party operators offer landlords a site-wide billing solution. Billing systems must be identified by the design team and included early, as changing the billing provider may require infrastructure changes. The HIU and internal controls chosen will need to interface correctly with the billing system.
Uncontrolled Heat Dissipation
Pipework distributed through communal areas can overheat. Pipework distribution and corridor ventilation require careful planning during the design to limit overheating in common areas.
Not all HIUs are made equal. Some are less intelligent and harder to control, which can affect performance. Simple models are easier to maintain and most of the internal consumables are readily available to a good plumber. More sophisticated units give the user greater control and can be remotely operated and faults diagnosed via a data link. However, these units require a manufacturer’s approved engineer to maintain them, and use more specialist consumables.
Depending on the controls of the unit the time taken to deliver hot water to the tap from the HIU may differ significantly between units. The delay may not meet the customers’ expectations for instant hot water.
In conclusion, HIUs and centralised boiler systems provide energy efficiency to multi-dwelling buildings. However, models, manufacturers, third-party billing options and pipework distribution must all be determined as part of the new building’s design. The sooner the kit has been identified and integrated into the design, the greater the benefits to the landlord, building manager and residents.
Steven Norwood is Associate Director at Crofton. He leads a team of building services engineers from our London Bridge office.
Crofton offers electrical, mechanical, structural and civil engineering design consultancy. Our multi-disciplinary teams have experience across sectors. Our offices in London, Kent and Sussex serve clients across the South-East.
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