Onsite solutions and behaviour nudges: How to take an energy strategy to the next level

The panel discuss the findings of edie's Business Energy Barometer at edie Live 2019

Speaking at the Energy Theatre on day two of edie Live (22 May), energy managers from Unite Students, Aggregate Industries and the National Trust spoke about taking an energy strategy to the next level.

Unite Student’s energy manager James Tiernan said: “There are no shortcuts – its key to look through the lens of your own situation.”

He also said it was tough to get engagement as “most people find energy management quite boring” and it was “crucial to get other parts of the business to realise its importance”.

Tiernan – edie’s Energy Management Leader of the Year – referenced nudge techniques as a key part of helping students to understand the need for behavioural change in energy consumption.

The National Trust’s energy advisor Kirsty Rice said “you can’t talk about energy without talking about energy efficiency and highlighted a number of projects that the charity has done to ensure this has been achieved.”

The charity’s estate posed a number of issues due to the heritage of buildings, but draft exclusion and numerous changes to the building fabric enabled change. The National Trust is continuing its march towards self-sufficient energy generation, and produced 12% of its heat from onsite renewable energy sources in 2016 – four years ahead of Britain’s national renewable heat targets.

Other projects that the National Trust has put in place include a series of renewable energy technologies, in order to take the charity above the 50% mark for usage from this power source. These include 27 biomass projects, 11 hydro schemes, 4 solar PV and 9 heat pump projects.

Business barometer


The panel discussion coincided with the launch of the Business Energy Barometer on edie today. Inspired by edie’s Energy Leaders Club and developed in association with Centrica Business Solutions, the inaugural Business Energy Barometer report maps out current trends and key developments for UK energy managers.

The big issue of behavioural change was mentioned again, with James Tiernan saying that there is “no easy solution” to the issue, and that it was a big challenge. He mentioned how it was particularly difficult to “measure success” when it came to behaviour unlike other elements of energy.

One way of doing this had been the work that Unite Students had done with the National Union of Students on measuring the impact of energy and utility usage. Staff and students from Unite locations across the UK take part in Green Impact with criteria ranging from holding a sustainability engagement event each year, to educating students on water waste by encouraging shorter showers.

There are also online Green Impact audit training where 100 students join the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment-approved training to allow them to undertake an annual sustainability review of their Unite accommodation. The scheme has resulted in an absolute reduction in Unite’s combined scope one and two emissions of 4.86% per bed compared to 2015.

The issue of Brexit was also raised in discussing the barometer with Aggregate Industries energy manager Richard Eaton stating that the issue with purchasing allowances was now having a big impact on businesses and the future.

He said: “We just need to get Brexit sorted now as the impact of it is starting to get into the most senior parts of our business now.”

Awareness of future technology was also raised as a big issue. Andrew Donald from Centrica Business Solutions said that it was important that “we don’t get too hung up on the actual technologies” though as “it is all about focusing on the outcomes” rather than the specifics of how we are getting to the end point.

James Evison

Comments (1)

  1. George Richards says:

    The measurement of energy behaviour change should be approached in the same way as any other energy reduction project. Ofcourse the metering infrastructure needs to be robust to provide quality data that enables the impact to be accurately measured and reported but in our experience the ROI for energy behaviour change projects far exceeds those of traditional technical interventions and have the added benefit of not requiring capital investment.

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