In September, the government published a final update on energy audits in its’ Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS). Schools and businesses are being encouraged to review the scheme to assess their qualification status by 31st December 2014, before a 2015 deadline on mandatory energy auditing.
“It’s a confusing picture at the moment but there are guidelines and worksheets available to gauge your eligibility for ESOS,” explains Paul Giness of The Beattie Partnership, a leading Chartered Surveyor. “And, while it might seem like an expensive box-ticking exercise, there are genuine benefits to undertaking energy audits”.
But, while the government has been promoting the scheme as a way for businesses to save money and future-proof their buildings, some schools and businesses have raised concerns about the cost of further legislation. There is also confusion over which businesses will be affected.
The central core of ESOS is the legal requirement for large businesses and schools to undertake an Energy Efficiency Audit.
The Audit, which brings large UK businesses and organisations in line with new EU rules on energy efficiency, must be completed by the 5th of December 2015. However, not all businesses and schools will be required to undertake the audit.
Essentially, the new ESOS rules apply to what are, somewhat cryptically, noted as “Large Undertakings” – businesses and organisations employing more than 250 people or with a turnover exceeding 50 million Euros. Navigating the exact financial eligibility can be headache itself, however. Businesses with a balance sheet of over 43 Euros are also eligible, for example, leading some business owners to decry the scheme as needlessly complicated.
Most public bodies are considered exempt but some universities and private schools may qualify.
“It is important that private schools and universities understand if they qualify for example, if they are part of a group then they may, inadvertently, get caught out by the Regulation,” advises Paul. “With fines of up to £50,000 for those eligible not having an assessment done, I would recommend that they speak to a professional, just to make sure.”
According to Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates, an ESOS Energy Audit could cost businesses upwards of £17,000. However, with many qualifying organisations’ energy bills being many times this, and with potential savings to be made, this cost may, indeed, be worth it.
“If you work with the Scheme and make the improvements you could easily save more money than you spend,” continues Paul. “If you get the right advice and work it in with your wider strategies, ESOS could be more of an opportunity than a chore”.
Please speak to Paul for further information at www.bepart.co.uk