IPCC Report- How could this affect the Built Environment?

IPCC Report- How could this affect the Built Environment?

Recently the BBC has released a report advising how leading world scientists were to meet in South Korea to discuss the realistic feasibility of global temperatures being kept to a limit of 1.5°c rise this century. This meeting falls off the back of the latest IPCC report released on Monday 8th October.

It is well documented that the world has already surpassed 1°c rise since 1850 and now the summary of the report suggests that if global operations continue ‘Business as usual’ then warming will reach 1.5°c at some point between 2030 – 2052, well ahead of the intended 2100 trajectory. The report highlights the crucial message underpinning sustainability – if we continue to meet the rising demands of the present, we will undoubtedly compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Matt McGrath, BBC Environmental Correspondent, highlights a key point that if we were to add up all of the promises to cut carbon emissions by the countries that signed up to the Paris Agreement in 2015, we would still see a warming in excess of 3°c by 2100.

However, the report was not all doom and gloom, reinforcing that, although the 1.5°c warming limit is looking like a pipedream, it can still be done and we can still influence the future we end up with but the world has to be willing to take some very tough steps. It is mentioned that to make the impact required there are no simple or cheap solutions and that we are likely to see intensification of CO2 cuts and a rapid uptake in the use of renewables, as well as drive to completely change behaviour in aspects like how we transport ourselves and, very importantly to Elmhurst, how we use energy in our households.

Although there is uncertainty surrounding the exact approaches the IPCC are likely to recommend in their full report, one thing Elmhurst believes, as they have done for the duration of their 25 year history, is that the built environment holds huge potential to create a substantial impact on the reduction of carbon emissions, whilst also helping to secure the fuel security of the UK, and helping families to escape fuel poverty. This potential also extends to the commercial buildings across the UK and further afield, it is equally as important to ensure these buildings look to reduce their energy use and lower the carbon emissions they contribute to, and with immediate and ongoing effect. One key driver to achieving this is ensuring consumers understand the building they are living and working in, and Elmhurst Consultancy recommends the best way to developing a whole building understanding is to use the three key tools – an asset rating (EPC), an operational rating (DEC), and then look at the actual use of the building via accurate metering. These three tools combined allow you to understand how the fabric of the building is performing, how the energy use in the building should be for the type of activities, and then how energy is actually being used.

Commercial buildings contribute 17% of total carbon emissions in the UK, as of March 2018, so learning how to effectively measure and manage these will be crucial if the target reductions of 80% by 2050 based on 1990 levels are to be achieved. Elmhurst Consultancy reinforces how important the Energy Savings Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) has been and will continue to be to helping businesses reduce their energy use and subsequent carbon emissions through their buildings, transport and any industrial processes. Undertaking an ESOS audit means a company become consciously aware of how their assets are performing, as well as their operational activities, and are then able to identify improvements that will not only reduce their energy consumption and improve energy efficiency but create cost savings. However, a challenge that has somewhat hindered the success of ESOS so far is the lack of requirement to actually implement the recommendations identified by an Assessor. For those companies who view ESOS as a tick box exercise, in the same way as their Mandatory Carbon Reporting, there is a reluctance to act on recommendations when there is not considered any determined benefit to the company. As with most issues relating to Climate Change, Carbon Emissions, and Energy Efficiency, Elmhurst Consultancy believe this is largely down to a lack of understanding about how capital investment will be, sometimes very quickly, gained back through large savings (payback period). Reports suggest that for every 20% reduction in money spent on energy, creates the equivalent of 5% increase in sales for most businesses.

The final statement from the BBC report suggested that there is likely be ongoing investment dedicated to creating technologies capable of removing CO2 from the atmosphere but this method of combating Climate Change has been heavily criticised by environmentalists because of the view that this does not deter the issue of the emissions being generated in the first place and provides no incentive to reduce energy use. Elmhurst Consultancy supports this view and would much prefer to a see the problem tacked at the source, and investment be directed towards preventative action.

Find out more about how we can help improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use across the built environment here Energy Management Consultancy.

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