UKGBC Energy Performance Targets for Offices: a case study in why over-ambition is not SMART.

Posted by on Feb 28, 2020 in Articles, Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

In this long format article I will explore why a knee-jerk response to the climate emergency can lead to well intentioned but counterproductive consequences. I have heard it said that we are living in a time where political reality is approximating scientific reality – at last policymakers are beginning to grasp what science has been saying for many years. This article explores another critical dimension, which I will call engineering reality, where I believe that much of the hard work and tough choices around climate change will be focused. The broader themes in this article are absolutely central to our success or failure and are offered not as a criticism of one specific response, but as a broader lesson to all those who can influence our responses to climate change.

The climate emergency is real and requires a rapid and effective response. Our success in delivering fast decarbonisation of our economy depends on myriad decisions taken in every sector based on our knowledge of the technologies, skills and finance available. These decisions are intricate and complex, not helped by a large number of uncertainties about the future, inconsistent data and conflicting visions of how to achieve Net Zero emissions.The climate emergency is real and requires a rapid and effective response. Our success in delivering fast decarbonisation of our economy depends on myriad decisions taken in every sector based on our knowledge of the technologies, skills and finance available. These decisions are intricate and complex, not helped by a large number of uncertainties about the future, inconsistent data and conflicting visions of how to achieve Net Zero emissions.

Those of us who have been in the business of sustainability for a long time[1] crave a John F. Kennedy moment: “we will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade”. We fancy the notion of a mobilisation of all resources available to limit climate change, to adopt a state of war where combating climate change become the overwhelming priority in everything we do. We can’t wait to see the many barriers we have faced in the past come tumbling down.

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SustainSuccess is a finalist in the edie 2019 Consultancy of the Year Awards

Posted by on Oct 28, 2018 in News | 0 comments

We are delighted to have been selected as one of the 10 finalists in the edie 2019 sustainability awards in the category of “Consultancy of the Year”.

Our submission spoke passionately about the “need to do more with less” and our belief that our profession – as sustainability practitioners – has a unique and privileged role in solving some the most pressing challenges of our times.

It is a huge honour to have been shortlisted. Being invited to celebrate the enormous contribution of the other finalists is both humbling and inspiring – the calibre of work, outcomes and people involved are truly astonishing.

The main motive behind our entry was to make colleagues aware of the helpful tools we have made available to support energy and resource efficiency. If you are unfamiliar with us, I would invite you to explore our website and take advantage of these resources. These include Niall Enright’s free 840-page textbook on energy and resource efficiency and the lighting hours tool which fills an important data gap for driving better operation of lighting systems.

The award winners will be announced on the 6th of February 2019.


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Manchester Green Summit – Hosted by Andy Burnham

Posted by on Mar 22, 2018 in Articles, News | 0 comments

It was a privilege to participate in the Manchester Green Summit yesterday as the event was heavily over-subscribed. I found the meeting very stimulating with a wide range of views about how Manchester could become the “Greenest” City Region in the UK. Here are my semi-random thoughts on the event…

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, started proceeding by setting out an aspiration for Manchester to become a zero-carbon city  – although he did not pledge a specific date to achieve this, he did suggest that we should be bold and commit to achieving this at least a decade earlier than the current 2050 target date.

The reason we need this level of urgency was starkly presented by Kevin Anderson from the Tyndal Centre. His brilliant talk cut through all the complexities surrounding emissions goals and reminded us that there is only one thing that matters – the absolute CO2 emissions that we put into the atmosphere. According to research by him and his colleagues we (Greater Manchester) have a budget of just 71 million tonnes of CO2 in order to meet the 2 ºC target we signed up to in the Paris Agreement.  At current rates of emissions we will spend this in just 5-6 years.

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EU Energy Efficiency – Governments resist the Commission’s vision

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The notion of energy efficiency as an energy resource is now widely accepted. Indeed, since the widespread Demand Side Management programs of the 1970’s, these “Negawatts” (a term coined by Amory Lovins) have been quantified in financial terms and compared with supply-side infrastructure investments and shown in most cases to deliver the lowest cost per unit of energy (LCOE), as well a significant environmental benefits such as lower carbon emissions.

Thus it is with some alarm that I have read this morning that elements within the European Council are resisting formally prioritizing efficiency measures in the EU Energy Strategy. For those unfamiliar with how the EU works, here is a simplifcation:

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Free PDF of “Energy and Resource Efficiency without the tears”

Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Blog, My Book, News | 0 comments

I am absolutely delighted to announce that the two volumes of my book on energy and  resource efficiency have now been published as a single book.

As part of SustainSuccess’ contribution to sustainability the book, all 840 pages, is being made available FREE, in the Adobe PDF format.

I have been humbled by the outstanding reviews that leading folks in the efficiency world have give to the book:  

  • …the definitive source or making sense of energy efficiency and all of its attendant benefits.” [Christopher Russell –  Visiting Fellow, Industrial Programs,  American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy,  author of “Managing Energy from the Top Down“];
  • For anyone interested in a practical guide to improving resource and energy efficiency, this is the one and only book you need to own” [Dr Steve Fawkes – Managing Partner, EnergyPro, author of “Energy Efficiency“];
  • A very practical book which covers all the bases for practitioners and students of energy and resource efficiency alike. [Tim Sullivan – Director Energy & Property Compliance, Rolls-Royce.];
  • An authoritative and comprehensive book that will help any organisation justify and implement an effective energy and resource efficiency programme [Ray Gluckman – former President of the Institute of Refrigeration]
  • Niall Enright has produced a remarkably comprehensive manual for energy efficiency, which combines high-level insights and practical tips for developing and implementing projects and programs” [Donald Gilligan – President NAESCO]

You can get the free PDF easily. Simply go to the store, add the book to your basket and check-out. You will not be charged for the book, and on completing the check-out process, will received a download link to the PDF (17 MB).

The combined print version retails for £59.99 in paperback and £79.99 in hardback – including free postage options to most markets. The print versions also include free access to the companion files, for which there is a very modest charge for PDF version readers.

Please do feel free to:

  • Share the link to this post on your own social media pages. The shortened link is:
  • Share the PDF with others (although it is better that folks download the file from the shop as they can be informed about updates to the text or additional materials)

Please don’t hesitate to give me feedback on the book. The beauty of print on demand (and PDF) is not only that this is a resource-efficient method of publication but also that the content can easily be updated regularly. You can also award the book between 1 star and 5 stars in the store, so please do come back and give it a rating!

All the best,

Niall Enright

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Peel achieves UK’s first ISO 50001 for a major property company

Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in Articles, News | 0 comments

50001-energy-management_newThe energy management system of  Peel Land and Property has recently completed certification to the prestigious ISO 50001 standard. As far as we are aware, it is the first major UK property and development organisation to achieve this accolade. Just to give some scale to the scope, the portfolio of assets certified include 1.2m m2 of property, including prestige offices in Liverpool, Manchester and elsewhere in the UK; the MediaCityUK development in Salford, home to the BBC, ITV and dock10 studios; The Lowry and Gloucester Quays Retail Outlets; EventCity, the second largest exhibition space outside of London; Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield and Durham Tees Valley Airport as well as extensive residential, industrial warehousing and retail park space.

SustainSuccess have been involved throughout in a consulting and mentoring role, writing the system specifications, supporting the implementation of the requirements, undertaking Energy Reviews, establishing the internal audit processes and steering the independent certification by Lucideon to a successful conclusion. The key to success was that the Peel Group already had a very effective energy management process in place, with committed Board level support, dedicated and professional Energy Champions for each business and Verco’s Carbon Desktop as the tool to capture energy data and improvement opportunities. Over the past four years this energy management programme has delivered over £1m of savings per year (against a bill of around £3.5m).

Commenting on the certification Niall Enright says “Despite the scale of the organisation, this has to be one of the leanest ISO 50001 systems around with the entire process is described in just 38 pages of text, albeit two-sided. This keep-it-simple outlook is very much in line with Peel’s efficient style of working and highly empowered and capable staff. Because so much good energy efficiency practice was already in place, the effort to achieve 50001 was one largely focused on documenting this practice and ensuring that all the requirements of 50001 were met. In 4 days on-site auditing there was only one minor recommendation from the certifier – that was that we did not investigate the positive variances in energy use (in other words the green traffic lights) as much as the negative variances (the red traffic lights). To have just one minor recommendation is virtually unheard-of. It really is a first class result, for which the Peel team should be very proud and which SustainSuccess is delighted to have supported.”

This is not Peel’s first accolade. Peel Group had previously been certified twice to the Carbon Trust Standard, and was benchmarked top of 29 property managers and developers by the Trust. The MediaCityUK was a pilot for the BREEAM Communities certification and scored more than the other pilot, the London Olympics site. Since then the Lowry has received a Green Apple award for its environmental efforts, MediaCityUK has received the BIFM award for Sustainability and Environmental Impact and two Premises and Facilities Management awards for Expert Services and the Overall award, largely based on the sustainability and energy efficiency activities.

There are a couple key lessons to be drawn from this: we would recommend that organisations put in place a strong energy management process based on continuous improvement, as Peel did, prior to seeking to achieve ISO 50001 as the certification will be much less painful and deliver much greater value. The awards and certification should be seen as the “cherry on the cake” which help raise the programme to a new level. The next key observation is that we should approach the subject of energy efficiency and sustainability as a continuous improvement process. Over the 6 years SustainSuccess has worked with Peel they have never once rested on their laurels and considered the job complete: they have innovated, extended the best practices and constantly set themselves new challenges. This entirely to do with very committed leadership, a culture of improvement and a highly enthusiastic team.


Above: the MediaCityUK campus was included in the scope of the ISO 50001 programme.


See also: Peel News Release

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Energy Efficiency – Steven Fawkes

Posted by on Oct 16, 2013 in Books | 0 comments

Energy_Efficiency_Fawkes I have been looking forward to reading Steven Fawkes’ “Energy Efficiency – The Definitive Guide to the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Source of Energy“, ever since I heard on his blog that it was about to be published. I have enjoyed reading Steven’s blog for some time now and I regret that I only just missed working with him advising on the new Energy Efficiency Deployment Office here in the UK   a couple of years ago – there were three positions and I was fourth on the list! Cest la vie!

Certainly I find myself in violent agreement with much of Steven’s observations. For example he starts the chapter on Management Techniques thus: “It is about Management, Not Technology.  The process of improving energy productivity is not a technical problem. It is a management process“. This is sweet music to my ears.

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Do we devote enough time on energy audits?

Posted by on Aug 10, 2013 in Blog | 1 comment

You're late!In my experience many energy and resource efficiency audits are rushed. I plead guilty to multiple counts of the  the most common cause: designing the budget to meet the client’s expectations rather than the engineering or technical requirements of the job. The question is: Is this approach correct?

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Understanding and managing opportunity interdependency

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in My Book | 0 comments

SavingsMany energy and resource efficiency audits fail to properly address opportunity interdependency in their recommendations, which can greatly reduce the credibility and impact of the audit. This article aims to shed light on this critical aspect of auditing which is also one of the most creative and enjoyable parts of the process.

This post  complements an earlier item on the value of involving management in the audit process: “The purpose of a resource efficiency audit”.

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The Maturity Matrix as a tool for change

Posted by on May 11, 2013 in My Book | 0 comments

A Maturity Matrix is a great tool to define the direction and priorities of a program.I have worked on a recent project where a maturity matrix has been the central tool to define the direction and priorities for site-level energy efficiency programs in a global business. This particular organisation faced a number of very common challenges in constructing a global energy efficiency programme: the operating units were very diverse and varied hugely in their approach to energy efficiency; the corporate team did not want to be seen as imposing an external view on the sites (which rarely works); and, as usual, there was often a perception at sites that energy efficiency was just about technology.

What emerged as a solution was an advanced form of maturity matrix, which could provide the basis for a full-day workshop that brought together a number of departmental heads and specialists to define a prioritised plan for their own site. The maturity matrix was a souped-up excel spreadsheet with six themes: “Leadership and Context”, “Measurement”, “Opportunity Assessment”, “Project Implementation”, “Continuous Improvement” and “KPI’s and Communication” on different tabs.

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The purpose of a resource efficiency audit

Posted by on Feb 12, 2013 in My Book | 0 comments

(Documents) MH900430727

Over many years I have observed hundreds of energy efficiency and waste minimisation audits conducted by external consultants on behalf of a wide range of industrial, commercial and public sector clients, but one thing puzzled me greatly and this had to do with the purpose of a resource efficiency audit.

It was clear to me that most clients saw the aim of an audit as the production of the audit report, detailing a range of recommendations along with a cost-benefit analysis. Everything about the assignment reinforced this viewpoint. The Consulting firms each had their own consistent reporting format, which they jealously protected, and their proposal documents all talked about the specific content and time-frames for delivery of the report. The idea of the report as the product was further reinforced by the payment schedule where the final fees typically become due once the draft report had been reviewed and approved.

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Managing Energy From the Top Down – Christopher Russell

Posted by on Sep 29, 2012 in Books | 0 comments

This is almost certainly one of the best book on energy management ever written.

I’ve got to say right from the outset that Christopher Russell is absolutely spot-on with his diagnosis of the reasons why organisations fail to realise the very substantial financial benefits associated with energy efficiency.

It is refreshing that he not only diagnoses the barriers, but offers a wide range of solutions – some innovative, some challenging, but all thoroughly practical.

His focus on leadership, organisation, roles and financial business cases touches the core issues for successful energy management. He beautifully demonstrates the stupidity and value-destruction in the way many organisations approach energy efficiency. The challenge is not around technical solutions (we largely know how to save energy) but in getting these solutions implemented – in raising them to the top of the corporate agenda.

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The Big MACC

Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in Articles | 0 comments

Most members of IEMA will undoubtedly have heard of Marginal Abatement Cost Curves, which are regularly used in climate change circles to help visualise complex data about carbon costs and emissions volumes. Below is an example of such a “curve” which illustrates the potential for different technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the USA.

If we look at the chart we can see that the technologies are ranked in ascending order of cost per tonne CO2equivalent (tCO2e)– that is to say that those projects that have the lowest cost (per tCO2e reduced) are on the left and those with the highest cost are on the right. Technologies below the line actually make a saving (a negative cost) over their lifetime – perhaps because they reduce energy consumption as well as carbon.

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CRC Quest For Energy Efficiency

Posted by on Sep 30, 2010 in Articles | 0 comments

The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) recently was renamed as “The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme”. This article will look at why energy efficiency should be central to any organisation’s response to the CRC legislation.

It is not always appreciated that, in the short term, the financial implications of the CRC are relatively small. The table below illustrates that for an organisation consuming £1m of gas and electricity in equal measure, the cost of the emissions allowances under the CRC is around £87,000.

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