As millions of workers prepare to return to work in the coming months, we can reasonably expect to see more commuting and more energy use in office buildings up and down the country. But pandemic aside for a moment, how much energy do the UK’s businesses typically use? And how keen are businesses to cut their carbon footprint?
We’ve taken a look at some key facts and figures to find out.
The Quick Findings
If you’re here for the headline figures, we’ve summarised our top findings below, with more information within our piece:
- Demand for business energy comparison has risen over 300% since January 2018 (based on searches in Google)
- The use of modular buildings as business premises could save up to two-thirds of the required energy compared to the construction of a traditional building
- The transport sector accounts for 40% of the UK’s total energy consumption
- Businesses in just 5 UK cities (City of London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol) waste £60 million every single year in unnecessary energy bills
How Much Energy Do Businesses Use?
According to a 2018 report, the average energy consumption for businesses is as follows:
Which Sectors Use the Most Energy in the UK?
The October 2020 Government data around energy use by sector highlights clearly that the transport sector is, unsurprisingly, the biggest consumer of energy in the UK.
We can break this down further within key sectors.
Energy Consumption by Industrial Businesses
Energy Consumption in the Transport Sector
Energy Consumption within the Services Sector
Energy Savings Of Modular Buildings During Manufacture
In 2019, we commissioned our own study through Acreshort Consulting to assess the carbon savings from the use of modular construction against traditional construction. We found:
- The embodied energy required to manufacture a typical (10 module) modular building at 4.9GJ/m2 is significantly less than that required to construct equivalent buildings traditionally (5.0 – 15.0GJ/m2)
- By reusing modular buildings (which are easily relocated) businesses can save even more energy – up 42% more energy savings than constructing a new modular building
- In real terms, it’s a saving of 47.682 TCO2 compared to the construction of a new modular building from 100% virgin components.
Modular buildings are an area where demand has increased over recent years, based on what we can see in searches in Google.
Using our own research, we looked at the number of searches per month in Google UK for various modular building-related keywords and found that:
- Since the start of 2021, between 2,900 and 3,600 people per month search for “modular buildings”
- Between January 2018 and January 2021, searches for “modular offices” increased by 84%
- Over the same period, there was also a 23% increase in searches for “modular classroom”
Businesses are Keen to Save Money on their Energy Bills
Domestic energy users have been keen to save cash for some time, with comparison sites a well-established option for customers looking to save on their own bills. But what about business comparison? Are the UK’s businesses taking advantage of this sort of service?
To find out, we took a look at data about Google Searches.
Using data from our own keyword research, we measured searches per month in Google UK over time for “compare business energy.”
Here’s what we found:
- Between January 2018 and January 2021, searches for “compare business energy” rose 307% from 590 to 2,400 per month
- April 2020, the height of the pandemic, saw an increase of 46% on the previous April despite many businesses being closed
Businesses Waste Energy – the Statistics
Although businesses are clearly keen to get the best deal on their energy, some statistics suggest that they might do better to look at cutting waste as a cost-saving measure.
A 2020 report by the Green Alliance Think Tank found that businesses in the City of London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol alone (without taking into account the rest of the country!) waste £60 million every year on unnecessary energy bills.
The Committee on Climate Change published its report on climate change in 2018 and found most business premises are not energy efficient, which is a substantial contributor to these surplus bills and excess energy usage.
So, How can Businesses Cut Their Energy Consumption and Spend?
Richard Crawford, Managing Director at PF Modular comments:
“We all have a responsibility to cut energy consumption and lower our carbon footprints. Many of us consciously do this day to day in our homes, but the statistics make clear that businesses are the biggest energy consumer. So as business owners we have to do our bit.
We know that so many business properties are not energy efficient. And cutting energy use really does start there. Modular buildings, particularly reused ones, can be more energy-efficient than many traditionally constructed buildings. This is not only down to the embodied energy aspect but also down to more modern heating, lighting and ventilation products. Our commissioned study shows that the construction of a typical 10 bay modular building uses 4.9GJ/m2 of energy. By comparison, a traditionally constructed building requires between 5.0 – 15.0GJ/m2.
We should also be engaging our employees in initiatives designed to cut energy usage. Simple actions like making it easier for employees to get to work without driving (subsidised public transport, Cycle to Work scheme) could cut energy use. Making sure employees are turning off equipment at the end of the day, that lights aren’t left on and so forth. Could your air conditioning unit be left off if the windows were opened?
I really believe that if you engage your employees and get their take on areas they feel your business wastes energy, they’ll tell you and help you to put in place initiatives and processes to improve it.”
Business Energy Usage – We’ve All Got a Part to Play
Our business energy usage statistics have highlighted just how much energy consumption in the UK is driven by businesses. So while we can all do our bit at home, real change is only feasible if businesses are on board too.
Modular buildings are supplied with an EPC certificate, comply with the SBEM principles and have the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of construction significantly. This is an actual EPC from a recently completed modular project.
But small changes will contribute too. If every business in the country consciously engaged with its employees to ensure energy waste was minimised (simple things like ensuring unnecessary electricals are switched off) we’d see a reduction in energy consumption. And given the significant consequences of not cutting our carbon footprints, surely these are changes we can all get on board with. If you’re looking to improve your energy footprint, contact us for great ideas as to how we can help you achieve it.
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