Energy being wasted by office buildings across five UK cities is costing businesses £60mn in unnecessary energy bills, according to a new report by Green Alliance.
Published on 22 January, the think tank found that the scale of waste is largest in the UK’s capital with energy waste by the City of London’s offices equivalent to the amount used to power over 65,000 homes. This is equating to a cost of £35mn a year for London’s businesses while also generating the same level of carbon emissions as 46,000 cars a year. Green Alliance stressed that this was a widespread issue across other UK cities, with energy being wasted by less than 3,300 office buildings in Manchester, Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham leading to £25mn in unnecessary bills and capable of powering over 42,000 homes. Furthermore, efforts to address such wastage have been limited with the think tank noting the majority of the UK’s commercial buildings are energy inefficient.
In its report, it highlighted that better use of digital technology could save both money and carbon, serving as one obvious solution. This would include smart sensors to track and modulate energy use in different parts of a building.
Immediate and easy gains include artificial intelligence energy optimisation systems – already on the market – which could cut energy use by as much as 14% in commercial buildings, with payback coming within a few months. For London, this would see businesses save £13mn on their collective energy bill within a year. If combined with better business incentives, these technologies would lead to further energy efficiency – which has been observed in Australia. The National Australian Built Environment Rating System has brought down energy use across Australia’s office buildings by almost 40% over the past 13 years. Similar progress in London would see business energy bills cut by a total of £367mn over the next decade.
Caterina Brandmayr, Senior Policy Analyst at Green Alliance, said: “Digital technology is an obvious and inexpensive way to track and control energy use, cutting business costs and carbon emissions. Cities will play a leading role in cutting emissions and would be a great place to start the UK’s business energy efficiency revolution.”