The date for compliance with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is almost upon us: notification is required by December 5, 2015. Evidence suggests that companies’ responses to the scheme have been sluggish and that many organisations are leaving it until the last minute to respond.

ESOS is a mandatory scheme that requires qualifying organisations to

  • measure their total energy consumption: buildings, processes and transport are all included
  • undertake energy audits in most cases to identify cost-effective energy efficiency measures that are approved by a qualified lead assessor
  • notify compliance to the scheme administrator and maintain an evidence pack for possible checking by the regulators.

In the spirit of encouraging voluntary action, the regulations do not require implementation of the audit findings, which can be undertaken entirely at the qualifying organisation’s discretion. Some might argue that this could be contributing to the general apathy concerning the scheme.

ESOS is aimed at large UK businesses with either 250 or more employees, or an annual turnover of £38.9 million and a balance sheet exceeding £33.5 million. Other companies are covered if they are part of a corporate group that includes an undertaking that meets either of the above criteria.

The scheme recognises previous legislation. Some organisations may already have achieved part or full compliance through the need to obtain Display Energy Certificates or Green Deal Assessments, which may cover part or all of their energy use. Organisations accredited to ISO 50001, the energy management standard, are also exempt from the need to undertake an ESOS assessment to the extent that the accreditation applies.

So how should business respond? Clearly, compliance with the scheme is a legal requirement but organisations may view compliance differently. Some may treat compliance as something of a box-ticking exercise, but this would seem wasteful of the resources used to ensure compliance. Energy consumption represents a cost to any business and a cost that is rising.

This scheme provides an opportunity to raise understanding and commitment to energy management within an organisation and, if properly approached, a route to genuine cost effective energy savings. Ignoring the findings does not make business sense, apart from in the most-extreme circumstances.

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