By Ian Jeffries, Managing Director, EEVS

Here’s a statement that we all know: in the transition to net zero all property teams should be considering how can they drive energy efficiency across their portfolio.  But where should that focus be? Undoubtedly the initial attention for many businesses with a large estate might be to focus on their top fifty largest sites by energy consumption.

This is entirely sensible, but a priority also needs to be tackling the ‘long tail’ of smaller sites and offices too. Boosting the energy efficiency of the top 20 to 30 per cent in a portfolio of 500 to 1,000 sites is likely to be central to delivering meaningful portfolio-wide action on carbon and energy consumption.   

What are the practical considerations to help property teams unlock the opportunity?

The starting point is to ask does the business really know what the long tail looks like and understand how it performs? What is the actual energy performance of all sites and what energy efficiency measures have been put place and how effective have they been?  These questions are important particularly in the context of the last year.  Despite low occupancy in offices, some businesses are seeing that energy demand is high because of increased 24-hour use of air conditioning. 

The holy grail of better energy management is to have accurate energy performance data to make informed decisions.  Across a large disparate portfolio this is likely to require remote monitoring to be in place.

In parallel, the next stage is to consider the current ability to remotely turn off lighting, cooling and heating. Many large occupiers that I’m working with are exploring technology which provides better remote connectivity for smaller sites.   

But investment in tech alone is unlikely to be enough. Driving behavioural change remains important too.  Empowering teams particularly in small sites to understand their role to support the energy programme is important.

If the occupier has a contract in place with a third party facilities management provider (FM) it’s important that there is a contractual requirement to save energy and put targets in place. The key is to have an agreement and measure performance against it. There is an important role too for independent assessment of the contract and also ongoing verification of energy performance.   

Cutting carbon across real estate’s long tail is a priority in a market grappling with the transition to net zero.  This shouldn’t be hard to achieve or put on the ‘too difficult’ pile providing businesses understand the current position, invest in technology, prioritise behavioural change and get their reporting in place.        


Read our latest Energy Efficiency Trends report

The research was undertaken between April and June 2021 and completed by 69 UK-based respondents, including 33 participants from organisations consuming energy efficiency products/services and 36 participants from suppliers of energy efficiency products and services.

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