As the adage goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Understanding your organisation’s energy use is the first step in any emissions reduction programme.  

Cut energy, cut emissions

If you are not already measuring your energy consumption, the first thing to do is establish a baseline that will enable you to measure your progress. This is not difficult, but it can be time-consuming. The obvious candidate for energy data collection and reporting is finance, because accounting staff are numerate and have access to invoices. But it could easily be done by anybody with reasonable spreadsheet skills.

Choose a one-year period that makes commercial sense for you – your financial year is ideal. You need to have invoices available that coincide with the period you choose. We’re looking here at scope 1 and 2 emissions, as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources, ie gas or oil burned on-site. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy consumed by your organisation – typically electricity, including from renewable sources.

Data should be collected in kWh units on a month by month basis, building up a usage profile that shows seasonal variations. Collecting financial values is also useful in terms of tracking cost savings. Consumption data will need to be converted into carbon dioxide emissions, for which the UK government publishes conversion data, updated annually to reflect the actual emissions profile of grid energy.

Once you have the data on your energy consumption, you can begin to look for ways to reduce it. This energy data collection spreadsheet from Zero Waste Scotland is the best we’ve found. They also have this free tool for optimising heating controls.

If your organisation meets two of the three criteria for a large undertaking –£36m turnover, £18m balance sheet or 250 staff – you may be required to comply with Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting.

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