Gov must help businesses relate energy efficiency to 'bottom line'
The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) is being urged to offer low interest loans to SMEs to stimulate the market for energy efficiency.
Launched today, the report, Building Efficiency: Reducing Energy Demand in the Commercial Sector, says that an increasing reliance on electricity, Government policy impacts on energy bills and future energy price volatility, present a threat to the profitability of 'UK plc'.
This could be neutralised through investment in energy efficiency, taking advantage of an estimated £1.6bn worth of cost savings open to the commercial sector.
However, the lack of upfront capital available for many SMEs and micro-businesses is a major barrier to energy efficiency investment, according to the report by Westminster Sustainable Business Forum and Carbon Connect.
The Government's energy efficiency financing scheme, the Green Deal, could be a solution, the report claims, and is technically 'open for business' in the non-domestic sector.
With the UK GIB funding a non-domestic subsidiary of The Green Deal Finance Company, energy efficiency could see higher levels of investment.
This funding is an "excellent way of providing low cost SME-finance without any cash injection by Government, just the use of its guarantee facilities," the report says.
However, even when finance is not the obstacle and the upfront cost of energy efficiency can be absorbed by a commercial business, energy efficiency measures are still not being installed to the "extent they could, or should be".
The report attributes this to a "lack of understanding and leadership" from those at the top level of commercial businesses.
Consequently, the Government needs to be clearer about all of the non-domestic energy efficiency programmes available to the commercial sector, it states.
It also calls for the Government to create an energy efficiency 'hub' website to guide senior executives through investment in energy efficiency.
"We believe this is the only way to stimulate the kind of behaviour change needed throughout an organisation to ensure that a culture of energy efficiency is embedded, embraced and understood," the report states.
In 2012, buildings accounted for 37% (210.9 MTCO2e) of the UK's total greenhouse gas emissions with commercial sector buildings responsible for approximately 10% of overall emissions alone.