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Government clash over 2018 exemption

Accreditation and assessor organisations have welcomed a new official guide on Minimum Energy Standards for commercial buildings, but two government departments look set to clash over an important exemption to the regulations.

Both accreditation bodies Stroma and Elmhurst and an assessors’ leader have praised the new guidance, which has just been published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, at a time when many commercial landlords are seeking guidance about the new rules due to come into force in April next year.

But they have all pointed out that there is no clarity over official guidance on whether or not listed buildings will need EPCs.

Ian Sturt (left) of the Alliance of Energy Assessor Associations pointed out that while BEIS has supported the long-held view of many NDEAs and accreditations that most listed buildings should not be exempt from the requirement for an EPC, the Department of Communities and Local Government continues to suggest that they should be.

Mr Sturt said: “The Alliance has long been arguing that an EPC is required for the majority of listed buildings under the existing Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations.

“We have seen the DCLG gradually backing away from the stance that “if it is listed it is exempt” but unlike BEIS they have not yet issued clear guidance stating otherwise.”

He said there is official concern that EPC recommendations for energy performance measures such as solar PV, solid wall insulation or new windows would damage the character of listed buildings, but BEIS has said that there is no reason to prevent other improvements being carried out.

He added: ” There are literally thousands of energy inefficient listed properties out there where things like loft insulation or upgrading heating and/or hot water systems can make a significant difference, without altering their character.

“The people living in those properties need them more energy efficient, and the country can’t afford for those properties not to be upgraded if we are going to meet our targets.

“It would clearly be ridiculous to completely exclude a large proportion of our least efficient buildings from the requirement to make them more energy efficient if it is reasonably possible to do so.

“That is why the regulations only exclude them if it is not reasonably possible to do so; and we are pleased that BEIS has finally recognised this and issued appropriate guidance.

“What we now need is similar clarification from the DCLG. In the meantime, assessors should not risk telling clients that if their property is listed they don’t need an EPC for sale or rental.  That advice could prove to be incorrect, making the assessor liable.”

Andrew Parkin (right), Stroma’s Technical Manager, is also hopeful that the two government departments will harmonise their approach to the exemption issue, and would like to see a return to a full requirement for EPCs on listed buildings.

He told us: “Stroma Certification welcomes the clarification from BEIS on Commercial MEES, particularly on its stance over listed buildings.  Other than certain measures which ‘may’ be more expensive or difficult to install within a listed building, there are many recommendations that can be applied without any planning issues.

“This opinion has been voiced on many occasions by the industry and it has been noted that the current guidance has been changed in 2016 to remove reference to listed buildings.

“Stroma now hopes that both BEIS and DCLG can reach the same opinion on this matter and that listed buildings will be required by law to have an EPC at the point of sale or rental. “

Stuart Fairlie (left), Head of Technical at Elmhurst said: “We have always encouraged joined up thinking across government departments, especially in this instance when clarity is required in relation to listed buildings.

“The information from BEIS  seeks to clarify the MEES regulations for landlords. DCLG have not changed the regulations for listed buildings, and they continue to be exempt from EPCs for sales and lettings.

“Together with other AB’s I’m sure, we will make the relevant representations to DCLG to make sure absolute clarity is achieved.

“We support both Departments’ efforts in making homes and buildings more energy efficient and we will work with them to clarify policies where ever possible.

“In the short term, this should not deflect from the positive guidance from BEIS and it is very good news for non domestic energy assessors, as it is clearing up how the regulations will work in reality.”

He added: “We have seen lots of anecdotal evidence to suggest that many landlords, especially the fund managers of portfolios, are taking this regulation extremely seriously and looking at the viability of their portfolios moving forward.

“This ultimately is a good opportunity for energy assessors to advise these clients and create good business opportunities. It is also extremely likely that the same Guidance will come out for domestic MEES, which will be a similar good news story for domestic energy assessors.

“Many members are reporting significant increased demand for non-domestic EPCs as the deadline for Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), the regulation that prevents private landlords renting the least energy efficient properties from April 2018, starts to get closer.”

To access the Non Domestic Private Rented Property Minimum Standard guidance go to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-non-domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-standard-landlord-guidance

To download the full Alliance of Energy Assessor Associations statement on the new guidance click here http://energyassessormagazine.com/EPCs%20for%20listed%20buildings%20170225.pdf

For more information including fact sheets on MEES from Elmhurst Energy go to http://www.elmhurstenergy.co.uk/help-support/minimum-energy-efficiency-standards


SOURCE: Energy assessor magazine

Panels boss Whatcott sentencing

PC panels boss Christopher Whatcott has been told by a judge that he is “strikingly arrogant, unpleasant and bullying”, and that he is unfit to run a business.

Sentencing the online EPC businessman (left) at St Albans Crown Court today, Judge Jonathan Carroll told the defendant he was satisfied that the intention of EPC panel site First Choice EPC . com and two related sites had been to deliberately mislead consumers.

“That was not accidental,” said the judge.  “I am satisfied that you used a loophole or grey area in the law to your advantage and sought to deprive customers of their right to cancel and charged them grossly inflated fees.

“Your trading practices were deeply unsavoury.  I have found you to be strikingly arrogant, unpleasant and bullying.”

He sentenced the panels boss, who had no previous convictions, to eight months and two weeks imprisonment suspended for two years, and the maximum 300 hours of unpaid work.  He ordered him to pay £1,000 costs and compensation of £74.90 to each of three defendants affected by the business.

He also disqualified Mr Whatcott as a company director for 10 years, saying: “You are unfit to run a business and will not do so for some years.”

And he added: “Had you pleaded guilty to an offence of dishonesty I would have had no hesitation in sentencing you to an immediate period of imprisonment.”

Mr Whatcott had previously denied charges of fraud and unfair trading, and elected to put his case at a trial which began late last month (30 January) and was scheduled to last for up to five weeks, but at the start of the fifth day he pleaded guilty to three charges of Unfair Commercial Practice.

His guilty pleas followed a scathing critique of his trading practices from the prosecution, and testimony from seven of the 30 witnesses scheduled to give evidence against him, but Mr Whatcott did not plead guilty to two fraud charges, which were not proceeded with.  Three other Unfair Commercial Practice charges were ordered to lie on file.

Opening the Hertfordshire Trading Standards prosecution at the start of the trial, prosecutor Andrew Johnson had recounted a damning catalogue of poor trading practices, which he said the defendant had engaged in with First Choice EPC, and two other panel sites called Low Cost EPC and Savi EPC.

These included charging unjustified cancellation fees with First Choice EPC, adding other supposed costs over a 15 day period with all the websites to demand close to £450 from consumers in aggressive emails, and repeatedly charging customers’ credit cards for EPC fees already paid.

Mr Johnson had told the court that Trading Standards had tried to advise the defendant on making his websites compliant with legislation, but he had rejected their advice, and even provided one TS letter to customers claiming it supported his trading practices.

At today’s sentencing hearing, Mr Johnson told the court that even after pre trial preparations had begun Mr Whatcott had continued to send out aggressive emails to customers seeking additional fees to which he was not entitled.

He added that 561 customers had received a chargeback from banks for EPC card payments of up to £39.95 which had been charged multiple times, and that these payments alone had amounted to more than £22,000.

Despite this, the court heard that Mr Whatcott’s debts far exceeded “any assets that could be identified”, and that he was currently working as an Uber taxi driver, while living with his ex-partner at her flat in Hitchin.

Witness Andrew Tillet gave evidence for the defence about Mr Whatcott’s previous businesses selling HIPS packs, and later EPCs.  He told the court he had known the defendant since 1995 when they had both worked for a mobile phone company, and had later worked for him until 2011.

He said Mr Whatcott’s original intention with the HIPs businesses, which subsequently failed, had been to set up an online estate agency business, and that “many people were happy” with the controversial ‘reverse auction’ system used with panel site Express EPC.

Under cross examination, Mr Tillet admitted that there had been complaints about non payment of energy assessors and non delivery of EPCs with Express EPC, but he denied any knowledge of Mr Whatcott’s HIPs businesses closing because they were de-registered by the Property Codes Compliance Board.

Defence counsel Benn Maguire added that Mr Whatcott often felt that people were taking advantage of him, that people had lost fairly small amounts on his websites, and that the law in this area was a legislative minefield.  He also cited Mr Whatcott’s early guilty pleas, but the judge said that they were very late, since the trial had begun and witnesses had been warned to appear, so he could give little credit for it.

Judge Carroll added that the trading practices which Mr Whatcott had admitted had continued for almost two years, and he told the defendant: “Almost from the beginning you were incapable of running a competent business.  You did not accept any advice that you did not agree with.”

SOURCE: Energy assessor magazine

UK 'must insulate 25 million homes'

More than one home every minute will need to be refurbished in the UK between now and 2050, experts say.

The authors of a report to Parliament say 25 million existing homes will not meet the insulation standards required by mid-century.

The UK needs to cut carbon emissions by 80% by then – and a third of those emissions come from heating draughty buildings.

The government said it would devise policies as soon as possible.

But critics say ministers have been far too slow to impose a national programme of home renovation which would save on bills and improve people’s health, comfort and happiness. It would also create thousands of jobs.

Successive governments have been criticised for failing to tackle the UK’s poor housing stock – some of the worst in Europe.

The UK needs a radical overhaul of existing housing stock if it is to meet emissions targets

Local authorities have limited cash to insulate council homes, and landlords and owner-occupiers have proved reluctant to invest large sums in disruptive improvements that will save on bills, but take many years to pay off.

The report from a group of leading construction firms – the Green Building Council – says four out of five homes that will be occupied in 2050 have already been built.

That means 25 million homes need refurbishing to the highest standards by 2050 – at a rate of 1.4 homes every minute.

Who pays?

The authors say this huge challenge also offers an unmissable opportunity under the government’s infrastructure agenda. The fiddly business of insulating roofs, walls and floors creates more jobs and has more benefits than any existing infrastructure priority, they maintain.

The question is how to pay. The government’s Green Deal scheme for owner-occupiers collapsed amid a welter of criticism that interest rates for insulation were too high, and that the insulation itself was too much hassle.

The UK has some of Europe’s cheapest energy prices but some of the highest bills because homes are poorly insulated

The government has failed to produce a replacement solution to stimulate necessary demand for refurbishments amongst owner-occupiers. The Treasury is reluctant to throw public money at improvements that will increase the sale value of private homes.

The report recommends:

Setting staged targets for refurbishing buildings

Reintroducing the “zero-carbon” standard for buildings from 2020

Recognising energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority

Setting long-term trajectories for ratcheting up home energy standards

Obliging commercial buildings to display the amount of energy they use.

It says the construction industry needs certainty about what it is expected to deliver, and measurement to discover what is already being built. This should stimulate innovation, it says.

Julie Hirigoyen, head of the GBC, told BBC News there was a great prize to be grasped in upgrading building stock: “People will have warmer homes and lower bills; they will live longer, happier lives; we will be able to address climate change and carbon emissions.

“We will also be creating many thousands of jobs and exporting our best skills in innovation.

“Driving up demand for retro-fitting homes is essential for any policy to be a success – the Green Deal told us just offering financial incentives isn’t necessarily the only solution. We need to make it all easy, attractive and affordable.

“The good thing is that the business community is really starting to recognise the opportunity.”

Insulation: The unspoken reason for high fuel bills

New methods

Ms Hirigoyen called for support for innovation amongst builders. The GBC pointed to a firm, q-bot, which insulates people’s floors by sending robots to creep under people’s floorboards and spray them with foam.

The firm’s head, Mathew Holloway, told BBC News: “We have to find new ways of doing things. Normal refurbishment often means literally tearing a home apart.

“That means local authorities having to re-house tenants whilst it’s being done. With our robot, we can seal and insulate wooden floors without hardly touching the inside of the house.”

The UK has some of the highest heating bills in Europe because homes are so poorly insulated

Mr Holloway’s start-up business was funded by the EU and the business department BEIS, but industry experts complain that building insulation research has received a tiny fraction of the sums channelled into glamorous renewables.

In the last 25 years, governments have tended to shy away from the issue. The Labour government made a rule that people extending their properties should be obliged to insulate the rest of their home too.

However, the Coalition government dropped the clause after it was labelled a “conservatory tax” in the media, even though it was not a tax and did not refer to conservatories.

The government is currently focused on bringing down bills through fuel switching – but home energy expert Russell Smith said: “Switching saves on average £25 a year. That’s not much help to a person in fuel poverty. The solution is refurbishing homes, but it’s difficult, so politicians keep putting it on the back burner.”

Mr Smith is currently refurbishing Ruth Baber’s home in Wimbledon, south London. He says it has added 10% to the £250,000 total cost, which included major extensions, but will save 80% of energy bills and take about 20 years to recoup.

Ms Baber is downsizing into the house and said: “I’m worried about climate change and I look forward to being able to control the heat in my house better. I’ve done it [the insulation programme] for my grandchildren, for the future.”

The government’s task is to persuade another 25 million people to follow her lead.

Source: BBC news

Government scraps ECO EPC’s

From April EPCs will no longer form part of the Energy Company Obligation scheme, except for social housing and district heating schemes.

The news that EPCs and GDARs will be replaced with less accurate installers’ deemed scores, came in the BEIS response to the ‘Help to Heat’ ECO2 consultation, which was published on Monday (30 January).

Accreditation body Elmhurst Energy, which had campaigned strongly to keep EPCs in the scheme, has accused the BEIS of letting down households in fuel poverty by making the change.

And accreditation body Stroma said it feared that the use of deemed scores would leave the door open to abuses.

Elmhurst Managing Director Martyn Reed said: “We wanted to make sure that the right people and the right homes get the right help and sadly the BEIS response has let them down.

“BEIS have stated that the ECO policy is all about helping families in fuel poverty and whilst ECO will improve properties it will not improve the homes that need it most.  We fervently believe that energy assessors using RdSAP and EPCs should have been retained at the core of this policy.

“The new policy direction has, in our opinion, removed the families from the equation, the market will now all be about the money spent, the number of installs multiplied by an inflated carbon figure.”

Andrew Parkin, Stroma Certification’s Technical Manager said: “The prospect of the next tranche of ECO using deemed scores instead of EPCs as part of the scoring process has been a possibility for the last year, so this news is not a huge shock to the industry.

“Stroma has always been an advocate for accurate scoring in order to offer the process, and the public purse, the best possible value from ECO.

“Unfortunately, the Government does not share a similar view on this matter and has moved to simplify the pre and post scoring process.

“I believe that this now leaves the door open to abuses and the net result may mean additional auditing at the end of the banking process.”

Elmhurst and NHER, which it recently took over, had campaigned for deemed scores to be used for trading ECO and dealing with understanding how much installers would be paid, but suggested ECO funds should be targeted at E, F or G rated homes irrelevant of tenure, by applying an inflator that incentivised installers to improve the properties most in need.

The accreditations had  also called for a post-installation EPC to be produced, to give homeowners details of other areas that could be improved, and allow energy assessors to give energy management education to families.  But none of this has been introduced into ECO.

“We believe that if our detailed proposals had been adopted everyone would have benefited,” said Mr Reed.

“Installers would have had certainty on the amount of funding they would receive, lead generators and installers would have been incentivised to find the least efficient E, F & G rated properties, and families would have received an independent, truthful, assessment of their home, which would also indicate other potential improvements that could be made.”

The key policy decisions outlined in the BEIS response include:

An 18 month extension to the ECO2 scheme, which was to be a year long but will now run from April 2017 to September 2018.

Introduction of a more simplified and targeted scheme. The Affordable Warmth Group will be increased to around 4.7m rather than 4m (in consultation) households. This will include more households who are in fuel poverty, and those on lower incomes, who may be struggling to meet heating and other bills;

 Eligibility for certain measures under Affordable Warmth will be extended to social housing in EPC bands E, F or G;

 Local authorities will have a role in determining eligible homes, following the introduction of the ‘flexible eligibility’ mechanism, which suppliers can use for up to 10% of their Affordable Warmth obligation;

The requirement to deliver a minimum level of solid wall insulation will be increased from the proposed equivalent (in consultation) of 17,000 measures per year to 21,000 per year;

Rural delivery will be protected as 15% of Carbon Emission Reduction Obligation will be delivered in rural areas.

Administration will be ‘simplified’: ‘Deemed scores’ will be introduced in place of the current Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) methodology.

The ECO scheme is expected to run until 2022, but prior to the commencement of the next phase in Autumn 2018 there will have to be a further consultation, and Elmhurst has pledged to keep fighting to bring EPCs back into the scheme.

To download the BEIS response to the ECO2 consultation go to https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/energy-company-obligation-eco-help-to-heat

To see the full text of the statement by Elmhurst Energy go to http://www.elmhurstenergy.co.uk/energy-company-obligation-eco-help-to-heat-consultation-response-issued

To see the response on the Stroma website go to https://www.stroma.com/news/eco-consultation

SOURCE: Energy assessor magazine

Biomass site uses innovative steam method for extra power

The conversion of a biomass site near Daventry, Northamptonshire, into a state-of-the-art facility is expected to generate up to £1m of additional revenue, after the installation of a unique process that maximises returns for the investors.

The Pedigree Power recycling site, operated by Silvertree and developed by Larch Group, is converting up to 25,000 tonnes of waste wood per annum into a green source of power.

After fitting a Heliex GenSet, it is now turning the steam produced in its steam-raising biomass boiler into electricity and providing heat to its 30,000-tonnes waste water processing plant.

Until recently, it was thought to be impossible to harness the power of wet steam, the type of vapour you can see emanating from a boiled kettle, however after years of researching the problem, Heliex Power, in conjunction with researchers from City University, London, have developed a commercially-viable method of turning the ubiquitous source of energy into electricity.

The electricity produced is used to operate the plant, with the surplus being sold to the National Grid. The Heliex system will also allow Pedigree Power to benefit from enhanced Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) and Contract for Difference (CfD) payments.

Generating up to 0.7 megawatts of electricity each day, depending on the amount of wood burned, Heliex Power’s 580 kWe system will be twinned with one of its 103 kWe machines at the facility. The former is the largest system the company has sold to date, with the combination of the two machines providing investors with a quick return on capital invested.

Tony Wehby, Director at Larch Group, believes using the Heliex system is another step forward, as the company increasingly look to renewables as the principle source of energy at its facilities.

“Too much wood waste is still destined for the landfill – that’s something we’re keen to eradicate, as we move towards a more sustainable future,” he said.

“Converting as much of this waste as possible into energy is the best possible solution, moving away from carbon technologies towards a more circular economy.

“The Heliex system is a core part of our facility and was the obvious choice compared to other potential technologies – it is cost effective, as well as being UK-supplied and supported.”

Chris Armitage, Chief Executive of Heliex Power, added: “Biomass plant operators across the UK have identified our technology as a simple way of maximising returns and boosting sustainability even further, by generating a low-cost supply of electricity in addition to the heat supplied by their boiler.

This is the largest system we have sold to date, testament to the fact that more businesses and sectors are realising the potential of innovative technologies for CHP.

“Our technology is still a very new proposition for many industries, but the benefits it brings in terms of additional revenue, reduced energy consumption, and enhanced sustainability are immense.

“A range of industries, from glass, steel, and paper production, through to waste incineration, distilling, and agriculture are already realising its potential – and there’s much more to come.”

SOURCE: Energyzine

University of Reading cuts emissions by a third through energy efficiency

The University of Reading has cut its carbon emissions by over a third since the 2008/09 academic year by using energy efficiency solutions in its buildings.

The University, which has produced a saving of £17m over a five year period, has cut its annual carbon emissions from 44,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2008/09 to just over 28,500 tonnes per year.

The total emissions saved over the five year period is 63,000 tonnes, which is equal to more than two years’ worth of the University’s current carbon output.

The institution has implemented a number of energy efficiency measures, including lighting, heating, cooling, insulation and building management systems. It has also installed solar panels on four of its buildings, as well as setting up an award-winning programme to improve ventilation to science lab fume cupboards and investing in equipment with lower energy consumption.

Following the success of the programme, and based on UK Government targets, the University has now set a target of 45 per cent carbon reduction by 2020/21, with plans already underway to reduce water consumption by 10 per cent.

Professor Robert Van de Noort, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Planning and Resource), University of Reading, believes that the success is not just due to the efforts of the Sustainability Services team at the University, but also the staff and students.

“The hard work does not stop here. Reading is committed to reducing its environmental impact and we are already working towards our new carbon reduction target,” he said.

The University has invested more than £4m into projects aimed at improving energy performance, with the schemes generating the same amount in savings for every £1m spent.

The institution has also strived to encourage behavioural changes by hosting an annual ‘green week’ to improve awareness of energy use, along with organising a Blackout evening where staff and student volunteers check what equipment is left on that could be switched off over the weekend.

Dan Fernbank, Energy Manager at the University of Reading, said: “In addition to the carbon and financial savings, we’ve also seen improvements to building environments, helping make them more comfortable for staff and students to study and work in.

“As a University with climate change close to its heart, staff and students were keen to understand how small changes can make a big difference. As we look towards our next challenge, I’m sure the University community will once again come together to help us achieve our target.”

SOURCE: Energyzine

Government efficiency plans may make homes unavailable

17 per cent of homes on the private letting market could become unavailable to rent by 2018 under proposals from the Government to increase the minimum efficiency standard for rental properties.

New research from Urban.co.uk suggests that the Energy Efficiency Regulations passed in 2015 could lead to a number of properties being unfit. This is a concern given the existing supply/demand imbalance.

The 2015 Energy Efficiency Regulations set out minimum energy efficiency standards for England and Wales. The legislation makes it unlawful for landlords to offer a new tenancy agreement on properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating below E from the 1st April.

Urban’s Landlord Knowledge Survey Report questioned around 4,000 UK landlords on a number of issues relating to the UK market, with the research suggesting that many current private landlords are unaware that a large chunk of homes available in the rental market are currently below the minimum energy efficiency standards proposed.

Adam Male, co-founder of Urban.co.uk, claims that one reason to explain the lack of industry knowledge could be due to the recent influx in new regulations, which have flooded the rental market.

“With landlords facing more changes than ever over the past couple of years, it is no surprise that many find it tricky to keep up-unfortunately that’s no defence should it all go disastrously wrong,” he said.

Planning and preparation will be needed in order to mitigate the impact of the new legislation. Landlords are being urged to act now to make sure their properties come up to at least an E standard.

Danny Luke, managing director at Quick Move Now, added: ‘It is commendable that the government is keen to improve the quality of rental property, but for the proposed new legislation to be workable, a great deal of thought will need to go into how landlords can be supported to make the necessary changes.

“This is especially true in light of the government’s decision to stop funding Green Deal improvements.

‘If significant energy efficiency improvement work is likely to be required, landlords will need support if we want to ensure a vibrant and efficient private rental market in the coming years.”

SOURCE: Energyzine

LED Eco Lights announce London Underground roll-out

Transport for London is moving towards much greater use of LEDs throughout the network of rail, tube, bus stations and bus shelters. It will allow for greater energy savings as well as savings in maintenance costs.

LED Eco Lights has announced products from its Goodlight LED lighting range have been approved for use across Transport for London’s network in both Section 12 and non-Section 12 areas, such as the tube, rail and bus stations, depots and bus shelters (officially listed on the London Underground’s Approved Product Register).

Dr Leon Smith, project director said: “The network is transitioning to much greater use of LED lighting, partly because of its energy efficiency, but mostly due to the huge savings in maintenance and labour costs more advanced technologies allow. This reflects our new approach to procurement, taking a long term view and looking at the whole life-cycle costs for all the products we install across the network.”

Goodlight LED lights are ideal for TfL stations, depots and bus shelters as they are easy to retrofit, provide immediate energy savings over fluorescent and other technologies and last much longer. The two approved products are Goodlight T8 LED tubes which are mandated for use where LED tubes are required, in all non-section 12 areas and G360 LED SON replacements which can be used anywhere on the network. Available in warm, daylight and natural colours, the Goodlight T8 LED tubes are specifically designed for retrofitting into existing fittings.

The Goodlight G360 LED SON lamp range has been designed to provide retrofit LED replacement for standard SON and metal halide lamps, enabling optimum lighting performance, while delivering dramatic efficiencies of up to 80 per cent. The lamp incorporates a MagLev based cooling system to draw away waste heat, maximising its efficiency and lifetime. Both lamps have a lifetime of 50,000 hours or eleven years of use at twelve hours per day and are covered by a comprehensive fiveyear warranty.

Philip Edgecombe, commercial director, LED Eco Lights, stated: “We are delighted that our products have met with the quality and performance criteria specified by the London Underground and Transport for London. As an organisation, TfL manage, maintain and operate in lightingcritical environments, servicing millions of passengers annually. No one understands lighting better than they do. Their commitment to health and safety excellence is exceptional and the testing procedures they carry out are unrivalled.”

SOURCE: Energyzine

Solving energy efficiency problems: The tools are there

Julian Grant looks at the instruments available to the engineer and maintenance staff that are designed specifically to help identify and address problems with energy efficiency.

There are proven business benefits in addressing energy efficiency. According to the Carbon Trust 20 per cent of a business’ annual energy costs are wasted through the use of energy inefficient equipment.

Monitoring power and energy usage in a facility or installation can often identify hidden issues that affect both operational and environmental quality, can pinpoint the reason for higher than desired energy costs, and can reveal the causes of more frequent equipment repair and replacement.

The fundamental piece of kit required here is a power and energy logger (PEL). Whether for troubleshooting a known problem, or proactively seeking opportunities to optimise power distribution systems, PELs, and their accessories, should be as common in a building maintenance technicians’ arsenal of tools as a multimeter or thermometer.

Modern portable power and energy loggers are compact, lightweight, battery or mains powered, electronic monitoring instruments used for collecting electrical data without the need for operator intervention or presence. They can be installed in distribution panels or around the facility without difficulty, and removed as easily without the need to shut down the installation or office building first. They are capable of storing several million readings, and can be programmed to collect data on a sub cycle basis or store averages at user programmable aggregation periods. They are available with or without displays and can transmit their recorded data locally or remotely.

PELs gather electrical data such as current and voltage, power and energy and are also able to indicate phase angle cos φ, tan Φ, power factor THD and harmonics. The most versatile loggers employ separate sensors for each parameter to be recorded and will automatically recognize those sensors and set the ratio and measurement parameters accordingly.

Multi-channel data loggers will collect data from several input types simultaneously. So, for example, a six or eight channel logger may be set up to monitor three-phase power systems. Mathematical capabilities provide the ability to calculate power and energy, as well as the cost associated with that energy consumption.

Remote access to the data collection process from the office, or at remote locations with wireless or Internet access, provides the ability to track several consumption points around the facility, or multiple facilities, without the expense of travel to retrieve the data.

To fully understand what is happening on an electrical installation with regards to energy consumption, etc. requires some form of data analysis software giving a picture of the monitored data over time and the ability to download to a computer for analysis. Most software packages are capable of displaying in line graphs often referred to as X/T plots with time on the X axis and amplitude on the Y axis.

When evaluating harmonic data, it is often easier to view it in a bar graph format rather than a line graph. The ability to look at several channels of data on the same graph such as three voltage phases or three current phases provides a convenient way to easily troubleshoot power systems. Also, the ability to zoom in and analyse smaller time sections or compare this week’s data to last weeks is an invaluable tool.

In the energy game, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Energy consumption takes place over time and therefore should be recorded over time. PELs increase the technician’s ability to manage energy by providing the tool to measure and analyse that energy over time.

Energy waste is an ongoing issue and is often undetected. Installing an energy logger on equipment that uses large amounts of power or in electrical panels can provide clear and revealing information about energy use when the facility is in a non-operating state.

Energy managers often track monthly bills to understand a building’s energy use, and while good energy reviewing practices will sometimes indicate that a problem exists, it does not always help in understanding where, at what time, and why the increases are occurring. The use of power and energy loggers along with energy reviewing practices provides the missing information necessary to properly evaluate energy problems. Power and energy loggers can help identify and document when and where energy waste is occurring, which allows the technician and manager to proactively make improvements and cost savings.

Performing preventive maintenance alone is not always enough. No matter how well technicians maintain equipment, if it operates inefficiently, or more often than needed, energy waste will occur. The cost of not paying attention to operational issues along with the maintenance issues can be significant.

Measuring and recording the performance of energy-using equipment over time is the only way to verify whether the equipment or system performs optimally. Use here of power and energy loggers will prove invaluable to service technicians and will increase their ability to locate costly building operation problems quickly. Periodically, monitoring critical machinery and high energy consuming equipment should be as important as other periodic maintenance tasks.

SOURCE: Energyzine

Trump aiming to cut ‘burdensome regulations’ on energy industry

US President Donald Trump has a new policy aimed entirely at “reducing burdensome regulations on our energy industry.”

Among the first interventions his administration has made is to block the adoption of any new energy efficiency standards for energy-consuming products – presumably with the intention of helping increase fuel sales in consequence.

This ban is even affecting four new nationwide energy-saving standards, each of which had already been agreed, and each of which had been due to come into force just days after Trump became President.

The four product areas affected cover portable air-conditioners, walk-in coolers and freezers, commercial boilers, and uninterruptible power supplies.

According to analysis by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, these new regulations had been designed to save consumers billions of dollars by requiring manufacturers to make these products more energy efficient. The ASAP’s director, Andrew deLaski (right), said: “These four new standards assure any consumers of these products just a basic level of energy performance. They really should not be controversial.”

Texts for all four had been fully agreed. Because of recent rule changes issued by the Department of Energy, largely designed to prevent typing errors, no new regulations can be formally adopted until 45 days after their official publication. This extended timeline pushed the standards just past the end of the Obama administration – making them vulnerable to Trump’s new scorchedearth policies.

Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt, the climatechange denier now set to head the Environment Protection Agency, has announced his intention to revoke the ability of any individual state ever to be able to set their own product standards or regulations. Should he succeed, this would mean reversing a policy process in place since the 1970s.

For decades, progressive Democrat states like California and New York have regularly introduced tougher energy standards for a vast number of product lines. Given the size of the two states, this has frequently ensured that the marketplace in the entire region have been ratcheted up. In turn, this has led manufacturers on several occasions to argue for such higher standards being mandated nationwide. Such “states’ rights” would disappear under Pruitt’s plans.

SOURCE: Energyzine

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