This is well worth the time and effort. Only by understanding the ‘energy profile’ – what energy demand and generation there is, what it is used for and when – can any strategic investments made to decarbonise the building bring maximum benefits. Understanding current energy usage will inform which options for improving energy efficiency, electricity generation and storage, heating systems, and heat generation and storage are best matched to a particular building. This could be based on the type of building, its geographical situation, what sources of energy are used, how much, and when, and what future plans there are for the business that uses the building.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a seismic change in working practices – where we work, how we use technology, whether meetings, conferences and training courses need to be held face-to-face or whether it is just as productive to hold them online. None of us know the extent to which, once the pandemic recedes work practises will return to pre-pandemic routines, however it seems unlikely that the 2019 status quo will return. It is therefore worth considering the impact of the changing work practises brought about by the pandemic will have on your building before you make any investment decision.
Keep in mind the answers to the following questions when reading about different improvement options available.
What is the primary use of the building?
How big is the building? Is it spread over a large area? How many stories does it have?
What is the building’s internal layout? Is it mostly open plan, or does it comprise of a large number of moderately sized rooms/offices?
Where is the building? What is around it in terms of other companies and geographical features?
Who owns the building? What is its lease length? Are there any stipulations in the lease about building improvements?
Does the building have a car park? How many spaces? Is it immediately adjacent to the building, or separated?
Is there any additional land with the building? What is it used for?
What process in the building uses the most electricity? The most heating fuel?
What does the building’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) say?
How often is the building occupied? By how many people? For which hours of the day? How does energy consumption change when the building is occupied/unoccupied? How does energy consumption change at night?
How does energy consumption change at weekends?
How does energy consumption change seasonally?
Is the building shut down for a portion of the year, for example over Christmas, the summer, or the winter?
When is the maximum energy demand of the building during normally expected operation (usually mid-Winter)? The minimum energy demand during normal operation (usually mid-Summer)?
How much does the building user spend on energy bills?
Is expenditure on energy high relative to other operational costs?
How has that expenditure changed over time?
Who is the building’s energy provider?
What kind of energy tariff is the building on?
Special tariffs are available tailored for electricity exports, solar generation, electric vehicle charging, storage, demand-side response, and more that should be investigated if applicable.
Is the building connected to the electricity or natural gas grids?
Does the building use another kind of fuel such as oil, LPG (liquid petroleum gas), or biomass?
Is there any renewable energy generated on site? If so, how?
Are there any means of controlling energy demand or generation?
Is there any energy storage on site?
Is any energy exported, e.g., electricity back to the grid?
How vital is security of energy supply to what happens in the building?
Does the building have any back up energy supply or generators?
Are there any plans to reconfigure or extend the building?
Are there any plans considering relocation?