Tag Archives: energy

Why managing energy is not just for the ‘energy person’

This is a guest blog post from Geraint Norman, National Assets Working Group.

At the end of June, I took part in a Good Practice Exchange seminar. This one was on Energy Management. Like Neville Rookes from the Welsh Local Government Association (who has already blogged about this seminar), I helped facilitate a workshop on the day. There were many energy specialists at the seminar, but what was most interesting for me was the need to avoid a ‘bitty’ approach to energy management. Make it a part of everyone’s daily work and you’ll get much further than leaving it to the energy specialists alone.

National Assets Working Group / Gweithgor Asedau Cenedlaethol

I don’t know if all readers will immediately agree with me. In some organisations, energy is the responsibility of the facilities team and doesn’t always capture the interest of senior leadership. But what about the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme? What about saving money in a period of austerity? Making sure energy is managed right across your organisation can lead to some real benefits.

It was great to hear lots of good practice from delegates. There was also lots of sharing of ideas and examples where improved energy management has improved services. I was particularly interested in three ideas that we discussed during the seminar.

  1. Include energy management in staff performance reviews. Sounds a little scary, but could be an effective way to make sure each department keeps on top of energy use. It’s also a way of demonstrating good management skills; staff and budget management. Directors can also hold their managers to account if they are specifically made responsible for this aspect of making savings.
  2. Get senior leaders interested in energy efficiency. Not always easy I know, but making it a key objective for your organisation gives you a good amount of leverage to get things done. Renia Kotynia from Wrexham County Borough Council had some good examples of how to get senior leadership involved.
  3. Try and make saving energy fun. Yes, it should be part of your strategy and yes it should be carefully monitored and managed – but it should also involve your colleagues. During the seminar, I heard about coloured sticker systems, blackouts and asking staff their opinions on new energy projects. These could be good ways to make sure that everyone thinks about saving energy as they go about their daily work, not just the energy manager.

So, what am I and the National Assets Working Group going to take forward from this seminar? Well firstly as a Group we need to communicate the outputs from the seminar across the sectors. We then need to keep energy management on the agenda and consider the need for future events.  As a Group we will also be supporting the Wales Audit Office in its future shared learning seminars. I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Making the Most of Your Assets

3. Asset Management ImageDid you know that since 2006, business energy costs have risen by 243%? No, nor did we. The public sector in Wales is well aware of the need to cut costs and improve services. But what do you do when you’re faced with costs that seem out of your control? You could look to manage your assets better by trying new ideas or approaches. The Wales Audit Office’s Good Practice Exchange aim is to help you find these new ideas and approaches through offering free seminars, resources and guidance on asset management.

 What do we mean by asset management?

It covers a wide range of topics, including energy, IT, fleet, buildings and plant and machinery – all things you need to make your organisation function. Whilst you can’t cut any of these from your budget, you can try to manage them better. The aim is to make financial savings without having negative effects on service delivery.

Some good work has been done across the UK on asset management. Over £800m has been saved since 2004 in central government estate, according to the Northern Ireland Audit Office. In Wales, the National Asset Working Group helps organisations work together to make financial savings. But costs still rise and now that sustainable development is becoming a core principle for the Welsh public sector, why not look at some new ideas?

That’s what the Wales Audit Office’s Good Practice Exchange is doing this year. We’re planning on running some free seminars and gathering good practice on energy, fleet, IT and buildings management. We’ll share with you some key ideas and themes coming out of our work on this blog and our website. In the meantime, you may find the knowledge that we gathered previously helpful.

Why is finding these new ideas important? The public sector in Wales is facing tight financial constraints and well-managed, considered risks and new ideas could help. Sharing and learning from each other’s experiences can help organisations tackle asset management in a new way. Instead of struggling with your energy management, you could adapt the successful approaches taken by someone else – that’s our philosophy.

What else is out there?

The National Asset Working Group’s new hub could be a good place to start. The Energy Saving Trust has a blog with some interesting ideas and the Guardian has a collection of sustainability case studies from businesses. Some general internet research will turn up a range of ideas you may find useful.

Asset management is not just for your estates and facilities department. It’s an enabler of services   for your whole organisation. You could spend some time developing your strategy and see what new changes you could make to save money. If you’re not very familiar with asset management, you could do some research to see how important it is and what can be achieved.

Keep an eye on our website for new ideas and resources to help you think afresh about your asset management. There will be a collection of energy management resources available at the end of July. You can also see details of our Energy Management Seminar on our website. On the day, you can follow #WAO_EM on Twitter for some new ideas and approaches.

We’d like to hear from you if you’re doing some interesting work in this area or if you find any of our ideas particularly helpful – leave us a comment below.