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How can an energy audit benefit my organisation and help manage energy use?

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How can an energy audit benefit my organisation and help manage energy use?

What is an energy audit?
An energy audit is the first step in understanding an organisations energy consumption. An energy audit involves a detailed survey and analysis of site-specific energy usage including an analysis of equipment, processes and user behaviour patterns. From this it is possible to identify areas where an organisation can introduce efficiencies to reduce energy use, save on costs and reduce the carbon footprint.

Why an energy audit?
There are various reasons why an organisation would undertake an energy audit, typically they may have limited understanding of their energy savings opportunities and the financial attractiveness until an audit is presented to them.

For some organisations the driver may be to achieve cost savings, for others the reason may relate to legislative compliance, such as the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) in the UK, or the Energy Auditing Scheme in ROI. Other reasons to conduct an audit include an organisations corporate social responsibility and environmental strategy. Recently it has become an expectation amongst suppliers, consumers and investors, particularly in the procurement of goods and services process, that a business can demonstrate and evidence that they have taken action to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. For large energy users the audit may be the first step towards the implementation of a certified Energy Management System (ISO 50001) to embed energy awareness and document energy related processes in a management system. Improved energy efficiency will also make business operations more competitive.

What should be included in an energy audit?
The most effective way is to assess all buildings and equipment which require energy, this is the only way to fully understand an organisations usage patterns, how they are potentially interlinked and to identify the most significant energy users. For organisations with multiple sites, the energy auditor will discuss how the various sites and buildings may be prioritised to achieve the greatest savings.

The typical areas covered in the technical assessment of an audit include:

- Buildings and building fabric such as glazing and insulation
- Lighting
- Heating, controls and boilers
- Heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)  
- Pumps  
- Transport fleet, telematics
- Refrigeration
- Industrial processes
- Wastewater treatment plants  
- Compressed air  
- Renewable energy

Source: SEAI

Not all the above will be applicable to all facilities, there may also be other areas not included which will require assessment, dependent on the site under study.

The energy savings opportunities will be clearly presented in no cost, low cost and high cost categories and prioritised by the auditor in the report, a payback and quantified carbon savings will be displayed against each of the identified savings opportunities. Typically the no cost options are related to behavioural change, particularly in relation to the area of lighting and can be actioned immediately.

Next steps after conducting an energy audit
An internal strategy should be devised based on the energy audit findings and recommendations and a decision made on how to take the recommendations forward. In any business setting the senior management team should be involved in the process, this is because they have the authority to make decisions and allocate available budgets for the implementation of some of the identified measures, which require an upfront capital cost.

The Carbon Trust reported, “In our experience approximately three out of every five cost-effective, technically viable energy efficiency recommendations go unimplemented. Upgrading lighting, heating and industrial processes can transform a business, but these opportunities are often overlooked by executive teams more focused on revenue generation than cutting costs.”

It is therefore beneficial for the auditor to present the findings of the survey and report to senior management as they then have the opportunity to ask questions and fully understand the findings and potential of the recommendations.

For further information on energy audits and how Action Renewables can help your organisation contact us now at info@actionrenewables.ie

Sources:

http://www.seai.ie/resources/publications/SEAI-Energy-Audit-Handbook.pdf

https://www.carbontrust.com/news/2013/12/mandatory-energy-efficiency-audits-opportunity-for-business/

Bernadette Convery

Bernadette Convery
Project Manager

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