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Reductions in energy use must remain top consideration

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) recently announced (21st May 2013) that it has tabled amendments to the Energy Bill which may have a significant impact for the non-domestic building sector, says the CIBSE.

Under the proposals, building owners who install measures that deliver permanent reductions in the amount of electricity used could receive financial incentives. Currently the UK Government is exploring whether to test the proposed approach via a pilot in order to gather evidence that will inform final decisions on an incentive the DECC EDR Team has advised.

At the end of 2012 CIBSE worked with its members across the construction and property sectors to prepare a full response to the DECC Consultation on Electricity Demand Reduction (EDR). It set up a dedicated EDR Task Force to gather expert evidence in order to provide the Government with a response that would fully inform both Ministers and policy makers about a range of common-sense options that are already available using existing engineering and technology know-how.

In its response to the Consultation, which closed in January 2013, CIBSE stated that while some forms of financial incentive would be likely to encourage measures for energy reduction, it must also be recognised that targeted support needed to be balanced in favour of encouraging behaviour change rather than one-off actions.

Buildings consume around 46% of our energy in the UK, and when coupled with industrial processing, any opportunity for savings in what accounts for well over half of the nation's energy consumption should be a matter of national priority, and is long overdue.  It is recognised that around 20% of energy used in buildings is needlessly wasted. Therefore real action to achieve energy and cost savings right now through common sense and rapidly achievable measures must be a national priority.

This issue has gained further attention with the director of energy and infrastructure at the Crown Estate, Robin Hastings, disclosing last week that in March 2013, the UK had "six hours' worth of gas left in storage". The volatility of gas supply coupled with accordant price increases, places a further impetus on reducing energy demand.

This was the core message from the CIBSE Annual Lecture in 2012 by Ofgem's Chief Executive Alistair Buchanan CBE, addressing the question: "How secure is Britain's electricity and gas supply over the next decade?"