ESOS compliance: Environment Agency steps up awareness efforts

The Environment Agency remains confident that business awareness of the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is continuing to rise, as it releases new guidance and prepares to host a series of free compliance workshops ahead of the December deadline.

Speaking exclusively to edie, the Agency’s ESOS project manager Jo Scully said a combination of advisory letters, industry event presentations and an online helpdesk have already helped to generate interest in the scheme, and there are more awareness-raising activities planned over the next few months.

“I believe awareness is higher than some surveys may have inferred,” said Scully. “We’re confident that the right people will know about the scheme and we are hopeful that they will comply by the deadline [5 December, 2015]. “We sent out 13,000 letters in October and November last year and we’re planning to send out another round of letters in March with an ‘act now’ prompt. The deadline is set in law so it’s in a business’s interest to comply.”

Compliance workshops

Earlier this week, the Environment Agency issued new guidance on how to comply with ESOS, which should be used to assess whether organisations fall within the scheme, how groups should be assessed and available routes to compliance. Download the Environment Agency ESOS guidance here.

The Agency also confirmed to edie that it is holding a series of free workshops around the country to advise large organisations on how to comply. The workshops will be held in Birmingham (6 March), Leeds (11 March), London (16 March) and Peterborough (17 March). They will feature specialists from the Environment Agency and DECC, who will present an overview of ESOS, the policy behind it and the practical steps organisations can take to comply.

ESOS requires all ‘large enterprises’ with more than 250 employees or a turnover of more than €50m to produce detailed reports on their energy use and efficiency every four years. Lead assessors will carry out an energy audit, paid for by the business, but there is no obligation to implement any of the efficiency measures identified. Read our full explanation of the scheme here

When questioned about the potential overlap between ESOS and other efficiency schemes such as the Energy Efficiency CRC and mandatory GHG reporting, Scully said the policies are aimed at different sectors in the market.

“CRC is aimed at high energy users, whereas ESOS extends further than that – it has a much larger reach,” she said. “So it does increase the scope of organisations that will be captured under energy efficiency policies. It shouldn’t duplicate work that they’re already doing for those schemes. Any business that is already participating in mandatory GHG reporting or CRC should be well-placed to comply with the requirements of ESOS.”

Return on investment

With the first period in which qualifying organisations must contact the Environment Agency now open, Scully revealed that there has been some submissions already – albeit from just a handful of organisations, most of which are already compliant with the Scheme via ISO 50001 accreditation.

The 10,000+ ‘large undertakings’ affected by ESOS are facing total assessment costs estimated at £165m, but Scully reiterated that the eventual financial benefits of implementing energy efficiency improvements will massively outweigh the costs of administrating the scheme.

“ESOS will undoubtedly save businesses money, if those businesses are willing to act on the energy efficiency improvements that are identified,” said Scully. “The scheme pushes the awareness of energy management up the agenda, certainly for organisations that perhaps aren’t engaged through other schemes along the energy efficiency lines. For those already engaged in energy management, ESOS gives businesses the ability to use work they’ve already done so that they do not have to duplicate.

ESOS at Sustainability Live 2015

Jo Scully will feature among the expert speakers at Sustainability Live 2015, partaking in an ESOS-focused session in the Energy Efficiency Theatre. The session will go beyond what is required to comply to demonstrate how to take real advantage of the energy savings presented by ESOS whether you elect to address ESOS in-house or through an assessor.

View the full agenda for Sustainability Live 2015 and register to attend for free here.

Luke Nicholls

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