Concept’s Guide to the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)
Find out what the energy audit process of ESOS means in practice – and how to offset the cost of compliance.
The basics: ESOS in a nutshell.
What is the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme?
The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) makes ‘energy audits’ mandatory for big companies. It requires participants to carry out an assessment of their energy use, across their buildings, transport and industrial operations.
What does it mean in practice?
An auditor will need to review your organisation’s energy data (using 12 months of data) and survey your sites (using energy consumption profiling), in order to understand where energy is used – and wasted. Based on this information, the auditor will draw up a list of recommendations on how your organisation could save energy.
Is it a carbon tax?
No. ESOS is intended to highlight instances where energy is being wasted, to encourage a change in behaviour. It is not a direct tax on CO2 emissions.
How can I reduce the amount I have to pay under ESOS?
The scheme is set up so that, if your organisation follows the energy-saving recommendations that accompany the assessment, savings on energy bills should outweigh the cost of the assessment. In fact, the Government estimates participants could save 13.5 times the cost of the assessment.
Find out who’s liable under ESOS.
Who does it affect?
ESOS affects “large UK undertakings” and their corporate groups. This means businesses, not-for-profit bodies and other non-public-sector organisations that fit the following criteria:
- employs at least 250 people
- employs less than 250 people, but has an annual turnover in excess of 50 million euros (£40m)
- and an annual balance sheet in excess of 43 million euros (£34m)
What about the public sector?
The scheme largely excludes the public sector – that is, public bodies which must adhere to the UK Public Contracts Regulations 2006 (England, Wales and Scotland).
What if my organisation is part of a group?
A smaller undertaking will also qualify if it is part of a larger group which contains at least one “large undertaking” that qualifies.
Give me some examples…
Retailers, hospitality groups, manufacturers, property groups, banks.
What if I’m already subject to other energy legislation?
You’ll still have to carry out an energy assessment under ESOS. However, you may be able to reuse some of the data collected as part of compliance under the Carbon Reduction Commitment, for example.
What if I’m already covered by ISO 50001?
If your organisation is fully covered by ISO 50001, you don’t need to carry out an ESOS assessment – just submit a notification to the regulator. If you are considering this route to ESOS compliance, we can help.
Get to grips with the ins and outs of ESOS.
How often do energy assessments have to be carried out under ESOS?
Organisations that qualify for ESOS must carry out ESOS assessments every 4 years. We are now in the third of these 4 year cycles (known as phase 3).
What is the next deadline for ESOS compliance?
The notification deadline for phase 2 passed on 5th December 2019. The deadline for phase 3 is 5th December 2023.
Who is ESOS regulated by?
The Environment Agency administers the scheme for the UK and regulates the scheme in England. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales regulate the scheme in their own countries. Offshore, ESOS is regulated by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Does ESOS involve auditing ALL of my organisation’s energy consumption?
90% of total energy usage (“areas of significant energy consumption”) is required to be included in the ESOS assessment, but this can be defined by the participant in a variety of ways (by type of fuel, by site, by part of an organisation, etc.), provided that a rational approach has been adopted.
What types of transport energy use are included?
Transport energy usage to be included under ESOS is that where the participant has been supplied with the fuel direct. So it excludes, for example, company travel by rail or air, but company cars would be included where the employee claims the cost of fuel from the employer organisation.
Can anyone in my organisation oversee the ESOS assessment?
No. The ESOS process needs to be overseen by a Lead Assessor who is a member of an approved professional body register. An in-house employee will either need to apply to one of these approved bodies, or you’ll need to work with an external consultant.
Will my energy use be made public?
No. The intention of ESOS is not to publicise or ‘name and shame’ participants.
Does ESOS require every site within the organisation to be surveyed?
Not necessarily. If your organisation has multiple, similar sites, a few sample sites can be surveyed and findings extrapolated.
What if I supply energy to another organisation?
The supply rules indicate that participants are responsible for all energy they consume, but not, for instance, energy that is purchased for supply to a separate third party, such as a tenant occupying part of a site, provided it is measured/metered. Landlords are responsible for the energy in common parts of multi-occupant buildings, however.
What type of recommendations will be made under ESOS?
Recommendations will be specific to your organisation, and there will be an emphasis on what is most cost-effective and practical. However, common recommendations may include insulation, building controls, low-energy lighting, and energy awareness campaigns.
Find out what happens if you don’t comply.
Are there penalties if I fail to comply?
Yes. For failure to report/notify: £5,000 and/or £500 per day until compliant.
For failure to maintain adequate records: £5,000 and/or the cost of verifying compliance by agents of the compliance body.
For failure to undertake an ESOS Assessment: £50,000 and/or £500 per day until compliant.
Will the non-compliance be made public?
Yes. If you don’t comply, it is likely that the name of your organisation, the amount you were fined and the reason for the penalty will be published on the Environment Agency website.
Will I be fined if I don’t implement the energy-saving recommendations?
No. Only the assessment is mandatory, not implementing the recommendations. However, putting in place these energy-efficiency measures represents an important way to recoup the cost of the audit.
An experienced carbon consultant can provide a Lead Assessor for your ESOS compliance and offer advice on how to get the best out of the ESOS process.
At Concept Energy, we have a long history of carrying out energy surveys, and helping our clients to achieve legislative compliance. Our consultants are accredited under the CIBSE Low Carbon Consultants scheme, and now that CIBSE has been approved to operate a register of accredited ESOS Lead Assessors, we are well-placed to support our clients through the ESOS process.
Bear in mind that the more time and energy you invest in ESOS process, the greater the financial savings you’ll see as a result. If you’d like to talk through ESOS compliance with one of our experts, please get in touch.