The Road to a Green Recovery - Your Business and COVID-19

Monday 18th May 2020

How has the energy use of your business changed in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown? A recent study of 300 commercial buildings found that the average reduction in energy use was only 16% since ‘stay at home’ orders began. This drops to just 3% in the weakest performing 10% of buildings, with ventilation and heating the largest users of energy in the majority of cases. The report recommends measures that businesses can take, such as minimising plant run-times (without compromising the need for improved ventilation due to COVID-19), turning off unused electrical equipment and altering comfort setpoints to a wider deadband. With the coronavirus pandemic still affecting us all, it’s certainly not too late for businesses to make some of these changes and achieve significant financial savings. This can help to absorb some of the economic strain businesses may feel from the implications of COVID-19. Of course, improving overall energy efficiency will also continue to save money long after the coronavirus outbreak is behind us.

By reducing unnecessary energy use, improving energy efficiency and using smarter energy management systems, companies will also be voicing support towards growing nationwide calls to mark this as a turning point in the response to climate change. Although the recovery of the UK economy after COVID-19 will be challenging, these unique times present an opportunity to accelerate efforts against ecological degradation with a ‘green recovery’. These views have been put forward in an open letter signed by many of the biggest companies and organisations in the UK, such as Iceland Foods, the National Trust and The Body Shop. The potential for a green transition is also supported by the United Nations, whom are encouraging governments to ‘build back better’ by steering us towards a more resilient future.

With many businesses now in the position of requiring government assistance for their continued survival, there have been calls to refuse help to those in the most polluting industries, especially those which fail to show evidence of carbon offsetting and progress in reducing greenhouse emissions. Proponents argue that financial aid should be prioritised for ‘green’ businesses which are energy efficient and involved in sustainability projects. Supporters also argue that now presents an excellent opportunity for governments to incentivise walking or cycling to work, support sustainable food, farming and fishing and to bring in laws to restore ecosystems. There is a real hope among many that these kinds of behavioural changes as a result of the virus could be permanent.

Hence, the effectiveness of intelligent energy management during COVID-19 is two-fold – save on energy bills, and become part of the UK’s transition to a green economy. Although the effects of this lockdown have led to a temporary decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, this is not a success in itself if it does not lead to longer-term action. If society can lay the foundations of a green recovery, we may remember 2020 for more than just the coronavirus.

If you need assistance with reviewing and optimising your building’s energy performance, please get it touch with us to find out how we can help.