Call us +44 (0)1483 771910

Waste not energy, want not energy

Waste not energy, want not energy
Blog Header

If we focus on reducing the amount of energy we waste then it is obvious that we will use less energy, spend less money on energy and do less damage to the

Most of us are familiar with the old proverb ‘Waste Not, Want Not’. And its meaning is clear – the less we waste the more we have.

It is also something that many people apply to their everyday lives on a regular basis. Indeed, this same principle manifested itself in the leaflet issued by the British Ministry of Information entitled ‘Make Do And Mend’ during World War II.

Since the middle of the last century, however, the UK has enjoyed relatively plentiful supplies of energy and this has led to a wasteful energy culture that has somehow lost the ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy.

Nor has this situation been helped by the UK’s continually changing energy policies over the decades. Many of these policies have led to a wasteful approach to energy
and there has certainly been a lack of focus on reducing waste.

Now that energy supplies are dwindling, the cost of energy has soared and we are far more aware of the environmental impact of consuming fossil fuels I would suggest it’s time to revert to the principles of that wise old proverb with a specific focus on energy.

To that end we have launched the UK Heat Network Mission Plan

Energy is everyone’s business

In recent years, we have seen the issue of energy rise up the strategic agenda and become a major issue for many organisations.

Consequently it makes sense to consider any efforts to tackle energy wastage in the same way that we might approach any other business plan.

The classic business plan structure, as defined by award-winning business analyst and author Joan Magretta, is as follows:

Mission – A mission that is worth accomplishing creates value for the customer (value is defined from the outside in, by customers and owners in the case of a business; by society, and more broadly in the case of government agencies and non-profits).

Strategy – Every successful business rests on an insight about value, and every effective non-profit organisation is built on a theory of change.

Execution – Execution lies in:

  • Setting goals and tracking measures of progress.
  • Innovating to balance today’s performance with tomorrow’s.
  • Setting priorities and allocating resources to them.
  • Delegating responsibility and holding people accountable.
  • Energising and inspiring people to manage themselves in pursuit of the common mission.

The UK Heat Network Mission Plan

This classic business plan structure informs the approach to reducing the waste of heat energy through the UK Heat Network Mission Plan.

Mission: Reduce the UK’s energy waste to make the country richer, less dependent on energy imports and a better global system.

Strategy: Heating systems should be operated to ensure they maintain a comfortable indoor thermal environment while consuming the lowest possible amount energy, thereby avoiding unnecessary energy waste.

Execution: Another familiar proverb – ‘Where There’s A Will There’s A Way’ – describes the necessity for culture change if we are to tackle energy waste effectively. It will be slow and difficult to achieve but it is also the single most important parameter in effecting meaningful change.

Thus, execution lies in setting goals and tracking measures of progress, in innovating to balance today’s performance with tomorrow’s, in setting priorities and allocating resources to them, in delegating responsibility and holding people accountable, and in energising and inspiring people to manage themselves in pursuit of the common mission.

Learning from others

Denmark’s historical experiences have been very different to those of the UK and we can learn a great deal from them.In particular, Denmark has not had the luxury of plentiful energy supplies so preventing energy waste has been a key factor in the country’s economic growth. This led to the development of the Dansk Standard as the basis of a strategy that ensures:

“Heating systems shall be operated to ensure that a satisfactory thermal indoor environment is attained with the lowest possible energy consumption and avoidance of unnecessary energy wastage.”

This Standard has been implemented and enforced through a long-term educational process that began by raising awareness of energy wastage!

Waste not energy, want not energy – the way forward

Encouraging UK building owners, operators, and policy makers to focus on the Danish Standard’s apolitical focus on visualising and reducing energy waste will, in the long run, be the most beneficial path for the UK to follow.

The first step is to focus on making buildings energy-lean and therefore suitable to be connected into heat networks. Only once this has been achieved does it make sense to progress to the second possible step of creating larger scale heat networks!

We must also adopt Toyota’s maximum of ‘learning to see’, by increasingly developing our ability to see waste where it was not perceived before.

There is already increasing awareness in UK around the problem of unnecessary energy use in buildings, embodied in the forthcoming publication ‘Heat Networks: Code of Practice for the UK’ by CIBSE and the Association for Decentralised Energy (formerly the CHPA).

For anyone involved in the specification of heating and other building services systems the way forward is to embrace the concept of ‘waste not energy, once not
energy’ and apply it at every opportunity.