In the net zero transition, property teams must consider how they drive portfolio-wide energy efficiency. But where to focus? Undoubtedly, the initial priority for businesses with large estates will be the sites with the biggest energy bills.

Ian Jeffries 1

Ian Jeffries

This is entirely rational, but tackling the ‘long tail’ of smaller sites should not be overlooked. Boosting energy efficiency across a large portfolio of 500 or more sites can make a significant contribution to carbon and energy saving targets.

And while there will be important practical and financial challenges to overcome, inaction is not an option. Many businesses have already set out a roadmap to net zero, and shareholders, investors and customers are increasingly focused on the net zero agenda.

So, what must property teams practically consider?

Assembling data for these sites is a key step; businesses must have reliable energy consumption data and information about site operations and drivers of energy use. This provides the basis for informed decision-making and ensuring future savings can be quantified and accurately attributed to specific schemes or suppliers.

Site optimisation is next. Ensuring a site’s existing assets and equipment are operating efficiently is an excellent low- or no-cost option. These services can be carried out by facilities management suppliers or by local site teams and can readily yield 10% to 15% energy savings. Robust performance verification is essential.

Capital investments come next but do not need to be complex. Long-tail sites are likely to have been untouched by energy efficiency measures, so an improved ability to remotely monitor and ‘turn off’ a site could yield solid gains in the first instance.

Staff training and behavioural change remain important; it is vital to empower teams at small sites and ensure they understand their important role in achieving net zero.

Cutting carbon across real estate’s long tail will be essential for net zero. It is achievable, providing businesses understand their current position, invest in technology, prioritise optimisation and behavioural change and ensure that supplier performance claims are checked and verified.

Ian Jeffries is managing director at EEVS