Beware of ESOS pitfalls cautions Ricardo-AEA following publication of new government guidelines

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Source: Energy Institute (EI)

Organisations required to undertake energy efficiency assessments next year should watch out for potential pitfalls around how they manage the process and a likely shortage of appropriate auditing skills, cautions environmental consultancy Ricardo-AEA.

The warning follows today’s (26th June 2014) publication of new guidelines on the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) which obliges all large enterprises to carry out an energy efficiency audit every four years.

“Many businesses are still not aware of the scheme so the new guidelines should help companies understand what they need to do to comply,” said Ricardo-AEA knowledge leader Christine St John Cox. “But the reality is that they don’t have much time to get ready with qualification on 31st December 2014 and the first audits needing to be complete by 5th December 2015. Companies need to start thinking carefully about how they will manage the auditing process.”

Each affected business will need to have their audits over-seen by a Lead Assessor who can demonstrate skills set by a new PAS standard, PAS 51215, and is registered through a professional body approved by the Environment Agency.

In Ms St John Cox’s view, companies need to understand who is going to carry out their audits, and if they will use internal or external resource, as it is likely there will be a shortage of qualified Lead Assessors and technical auditors who can offer the skills businesses need.

“As the PAS standard and scheme are so new there aren’t currently any eligible Lead Assessors, so companies need to work out how they will plan for this sooner rather than later,” she said. “Getting the right qualified Lead Assessor could help the organisation achieve far more in terms of potential energy savings, above and beyond compliance with ESOS.”

In addition to the Lead Assessor, the team of auditors carrying out the assessments should also be able to add value, advises Ms St John Cox. Historically experienced auditors and energy efficiency audits were easily available through the Carbon Trust, although funding for these free audits stopped in 2010.

“However in many instances these auditors quoted standard low cost and no cost measures to reduce energy,” she said. “With many businesses already implementing some of these steps, there could be a skills gap between auditors and the outputs that companies need to gain any benefit from the scheme. Businesses need to make sure that their auditors can offer the tailored support that can make a real difference to company energy efficiency performance, and not just a standard ‘one-size fits all’ approach.”

Ricardo-AEA is hosting a webinar next month in partnership with the Energy Institute to help organisations comply with the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme and realise the savings they identify. The webinar takes place at 2pm on 16th July and organisations can register here: www.ricardo-aea.com/cms/esos

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