Sunday, 23 November 2014

Gas use in tenanted office block halved

Nearly a year ago I told a story about my friends' campaign to reduce energy use in their over-heated office: Energy saving in a rented office - experience. I am pleased to report their efforts have paid off. Gas use in the building has halved, mainly through adjusting the heating schedule. There are more savings planned - the energy officer has promised to review the lighting in common areas and they are also considering installing hot water heaters for the toilets so that the main boilers are not needed at all in the summer.

Getting things done in rented accommodation is often a struggle when the tenants pay for services, so landlords gets little advantage from investment in energy savings. However, in this case there were big savings to be made with very little capital outlay - and this case is not unusual in that respect. Also, as this example demonstrates, energy savings often make the building more comfortable to work in, improving relations between landlords and tenants. This in turn can increase the value of the property, at least in places where rented space is not at quite such a premium as it is in Cambridge. However, in this example I believe the landlord was also somewhat embarrassed by the potential damage to their reputation of being 'green'.

If there is a need for capital outlay, it makes sense for tenants to agree to pay for at least some of the this, since they will benefit from reduced bills. However this is only practical when the payback times are short - shorter than the lease anyway. At the moment green deal loans are only for residential properties, not offices.

A key factor in my friends' success was getting through to the right people with incontrovertible data. For example, the temperature profiles captured by my Thermochron iButtons clearly showed the heating was on all the time. It would have been difficult to get data from the building managers but their co-operation was not needed. If you would like to borrow them for your office in Cambridge, do let me know.

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