Simplifying compliance with the carbon reduction commitment

    The City of Cardiff Council, like other organisations in non-energy intensive industries, must comply with the requirements of the UK’s Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme. Energy Manager Adam De Benedictis explained how working with Energise helped the council to meet its legal obligations with the minimum of fuss.

    The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme is a mandatory carbon emissions reporting and pricing scheme administered by the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Its aim is to reduce non-traded emissions by 17 million tonnes by 2027, supporting the UK government’s objective to decrease the country’s carbon emissions by 80 % by 2050. Under the scheme, large public and private sector organisations, such as the City of Cardiff Council, that consume 6,000 MWh or more of electricity across their UK estates, are required to monitor, report and purchase or surrender carbon allowances. There is a clear financial incentive to cut emissions as much as possible, as this reduces the number of emissions allowances that must be purchased.

    The City of Cardiff Council spends around £10 million a year on energy. A team of six people manages the energy budget and takes responsibility for regulatory compliance. In addition, the team undertakes capital projects to enhance efficiency, including retrofitting LED lighting to older buildings and commissioning renewable energy schemes. To help ensure CRC compliance, the council sought advice from Energise, as Adam explained: “The council has about 350 operational buildings, many of which are older, less energy efficient stock. There has been a big focus on improving these buildings, as newer properties are generally more efficient from a carbon emissions perspective. As well as improving our existing premises, we also look for opportunities to commission renewable energy schemes, such as the recently opened Radyr Weir hydroelectric plant, which generates around 1.6 million kWh of electricity a year, amounting to an income of about £370,000 per annum for the council.”

    “I joined the council four and a half years ago, just as its CRC submission was due. Although I had previously had some involvement with CRC, with a tight deadline to meet I needed the support of a company with an in-depth knowledge of the subject to ensure that we were compliant and submitted our return on time. I contacted Energise and found that the team there was already familiar with the SystemsLink Energy Manager software that we use to manage our database. They were able to do everything for us, which made the process very straightforward.”

    Since then, the council has also commissioned Energise to perform a number of energy audits at key locations. Adam continued: “We needed a detailed understanding of the opportunities for energy reduction projects at our core sites, and engaged Energise to carry out the audits on our behalf, as it had more expertise in the subject than we did. While we could identify where action was necessary, Energise was able to go into the problem in depth, producing a detailed report that gave an indication of the likely cost of the project, as well as the potential benefits and cost savings.”

    “The audit reports helped us to determine the main sources of energy consumption on our sites and identify buildings where we could improve the energy efficiency, and to create a business case for the proposed projects. Rather than focus on individual buildings, we took an organisation-wide project approach, focusing on specific issues that were known causes of high energy consumption. On many of our sites, lighting was identified as a major energy user; we have since retrofitted LED lighting in many of our buildings.”

    “Working with Energise has helped to transform our in-house capabilities. The company spent time training us, and we have now developed our skills to a point where we are no longer dependent on external help for our CRC submissions. We’ve gradually made the transition from a situation where we depended on Energise to do everything for us to handling most of the CRC requirements ourselves. At the same time, we have a very good relationship with Energise and continue to rely on the company to provide QA services, support and advice on an ad hoc basis whenever necessary, and to informally audit our processes.”