Defining Net Zero

Almost everyone agrees that Net Zero is a Good Thing, and something that we need to reach by 2050 at the latest. But what is Net Zero? Is there a common understanding, and does a deadline of 2050 provide enough urgency? How does Net Zero relate to science-based pathways, or to the need to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement? And what should people be doing on the way to Net Zero – after all, 2050 is still quite a long way off?

These are some of the many questions that are now being addressed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) through an International Workshop Agreement (IWA). Led by the British Standards Institution (BSI) on behalf of ISO, a series of three virtual workshops – open to all – aim to create a document setting out guidelines for Net Zero. The document aims to enable countries, regions, NGOs, companies and organizations at all levels to be able to set targets, achieve and communicate their pathway to net zero.

IBECCS is providing support to the core development team within BSI. IBECCS’ principal, Ian Byrne, has extensive experience within the international standardization process, and is currently convening a working group writing an ISO standard on carbon neutrality, ISO 14068. This is a closely related concept to net zero, but differs in its use of offsets to enable claims of neutrality to be made at any point in time, rather than a longer term net zero target.

If you want to participate in the Net Zero workshops, it is free to participate and you can register through the dedicated website. But hurry – the series of workshops will end on 1 September 2022, with the aim of publishing a final document in time for CoP27 in Egypt in November.

Earth Day reminds us that SMEs need support too

22 April ’22 is this year’s Earth Day. IBECCS is pleased to support the SME Climate Hub initiative and to use the event to confirm that we can now offer support under the Kent County Council C-CARE Green Voucher Scheme for small businesses operating in Kent. This provides free advice around greening your business and is available on a first come, first served basis.

If you are from a small business elsewhere in the UK, we can still help you with our cost-effective energy and carbon audits and carbon footprinting services, identifying ways in which you can save money from fuel bills, and lower carbon emissions at the same time. The payback for some measures has improved greatly with the recent energy price rises, so now represents a good time to invest. If you would like to save energy, carbon and money, then why not drop us an email? We offer a highly competitive day rate, over 30 years’ expertise, and can work across Southern and Eastern England and the Midlands.

Free support for KENT SMEs’ transition to Net Zero

Kent County Council logoIBECCS is excited to be taking part in a new scheme that will provide up to £1,500 worth of free support for smaller businesses in Kent to help them define their transition to net zero. Open to any small & medium enterprise in Kent (except Medway), businesses apply for a Green Recovery Voucher – and this unlocks free support that can be used to discover ways of reducing their carbon footprint through topics such as:

  • reducing energy consumption by energy efficiency
  • implementing suitable onsite renewable energy
  • establishing the operation as a smart local energy system, possibly including energy storage (heat or batteries)
  • reducing emissions associated with travel, and other transport, such as deliveries of goods
  • greening the supply chain

Each business taking advantage of the scheme will be able to set their own priorities to gain bespoke advice and support.

The scheme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund C-CARE (Covid Channel Area Response Exchange) programme through Kent County Council. Applications are now open through the Kent County Council website.

Apply today for the Green Voucher Scheme

If you are an SME in Kent and would like a preliminary discussion about how the voucher scheme may help you, please send me an email.

Ian Byrne speaking at a CEN webinar

IBECCS’s principal, Ian Byrne recently spoke at a webinar organised by CEN/CENELEC, the European bodies responsible for standardization, attended by over 200 participants. The seminar was called  ‘Standardizing Carbon Neutrality – a milestone on the way to net zero‘. He explained what is – or at least should be – meant by carbon neutrality and how international standards, including the forthcoming ISO 14068 may help organisations manage neutrality in a robust and transparent manner.

The webinar’s web page can be found on the CEN webinar page including a link to a Q&A session. There is also a freely accessible YouTube recording of the webinar, which ran for just over 50 minutes,

Ian can help companies, charities and public sector bodies develop an implement carbon neutrality strategies, based around the quantification of their carbon footprint, implementation of real emissions reductions and, where necessary, offsetting of unabated emissions. carbon neutrality can be applied at the organisational level, or for individual products or services.

IBECCS works with Blaenau Gwent on low carbon business parks

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council has been awarded £500k from Welsh Government, through the Whole System Business Research Innovation for Decarbonisation Challenge (WBRID), to develop a solution to the Council’s challenge of – Developing a Smart Industrial and Commercial Energy Platform Model Solutions to achieve Net Zero Outcomes. 

The funding will allow the Council to move into Phase 2 of the challenge which involves working with two suppliers. They will test and pilot each solution to help the Council towards its decarbonisation goal over the next year. In Phase 1 the competition was launched and 11 companies bid for the opportunity which was further shortlisted to four suppliers.

Phase 2 has seen that number reduced to only two suppliers, with Stortera and BankEnergi given a share of the funding to continue work over the next year.

StorTera are an Edinburgh based energy storage solution provider working to revolutionise the energy storage industry. BankEnergi is a consortium consisting of Consortio, IBECCS, carbonTRACK UK, Wales & West Utilities and BankEnergi. The consortium has worked together on a number of previous projects from whole systems thinking to Prospering From the Energy Revolution (PFER) projects related to energy and flexibility trading.

The companies will be demonstrating their solutions which includes creating an energy trading platform utilising existing renewable energy generation and installing new equipment including battery storage, solar PV, heat pump and Artificial Intelligence (AI) controls. This will optimise performance and energy utilisation with a view to decarbonising business parks.

Councillor Dai Davies, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Regeneration and Economic Development commented:
“I am very pleased that we have funding in place from Welsh Government which will allow us to progress to Phase 2 of the project. This will present solutions through real practical measures to set out what we can achieve in the future. Blaenau Gwent Council must do all it can to reduce carbon emissions if we are to meet our target in 2030 of becoming a carbon neutral organisation. It’s so positive that we are taking action on climate change today so that we can all benefit from a better tomorrow.”
The Council are delighted to move into Phase 2 of the project which will help reduce overall carbon emissions across the borough and achieve their ambition to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2030.

Ian Byrne, Principal at IBECCS added:
“It’s exciting to be part of the team testing the BankEnergi solution as a way of enabling companies on Blaenau Gwent’s business parks to cut their energy bills, take advantage of new and renewable energy, and lower their carbon emissions. IBECCS is providing technical support to the consortium, as well as working on engagement activities.”

Moving office…

I’ve recently moved into a new office.  You might hope, nay expect, that I would have undertaken a detailed environmental appraisal of the benefits and carefully weighed up my new ecological footprint.  No, hardly at all!  In that, I am like everyone else – it’s location, location, location (and the availability of decent coffee).

IBECCS new office location in Central Milton Keynes

Actually I am probably doing myself a disservice.  The move was forced upon me – two working days before Christmas my office provider (I won’t name them, but they’re the global number 1 in their market) told me they had been unable to negotiate a new superior lease (ie. hadn’t been able to reduce what they were paying enough), so we were all being moved, and I was given a (very) shortlist of options.  And here it did boil down to location, location or location.  One had a view across a local park – but was next to a motorway junction, hard to reach by bus and had a free car park I might be tempted to use.  The second was in the city centre, close to my former office, but was a windowless cell (although it was above a leading craft brewery outlet).  And the third was in a new building, close to the railway station with the promise of secure covered cycle parking (and a branch of Pret two minutes’ walk away).  The station one won. Once this pandemic has survived (and even I, the perennial pessimist, believe that it must eventually) I will want to be back down to London for F2F meetings and energy/carbon audits. 

So I then started trying to find the new office’s environmental credentials.  It’s a newbuild, but on a brownfield site – even Milton Keynes has brownfield sites, as the lifespan of commercial building developments can be frustratingly short.  I can remember taking my son to bowling birthday parties in the Leisure Plaza – I may even have once scored a strike there!  But although it had only opened in 1990, the bowling alley was demolished around 2014 and, phoenix-like, a seven storey office complex has risen in its place.

The first thing was to find its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These are now centrally lodged in a corner of the website and – as with most parts of the site – are less informative than they were before. Although this reveals that it has a rating of B26 (better than the D71 of the old office), the assessor who undertook the rating is no longer named. That’s a pity, as I would have liked to ask him/her how the certificate can simultaneously show that it has no air-conditioning (“Aircon Present No”), but that the main contributor or servicing strategy that contributes to the building’s emissions is “Air Conditioning”:

A little bit of digging shows that there is full air conditioning and the building has 15 Daikin VRV systems, essentially two per floor, and a control system that enables billing by floor, rather than simply dividing it on square footage.  What this means for air quality in a time of COVID is anyone’s guess.  I am, of course, WfH at the moment, so cannot yet say whether the ventilation strategy will work, especially in summer, as the building has large glazed areas.  Unlike my previous office, there is no gas, so the hot water for toilets comes from air source heat pumps, although hot water for the sinks adjacent to the coffee stations installed by my immediate landlord appears to come from an instantaneous electric source. Like many offices, externally it appears as a sealed glazed box.  Although this could set alarm bells ringing, Saint-Gobain feature it on their website:

Saint-Gobain COOL-LITE XTREME 50/22 was selected for the large expanses of floor to ceiling glazing and the 10 metre height, glazed reception, due to the products very high selectivity of 2.24 (ratio of visible light to solar heat gain). The product performance values maximise light transmission whilst reducing the need for expensive and non-eco-friendly air conditioning; perfect for this sustainable and low energy BREEAM accredited building.

That is hopeful at least; but I shall miss the ability to open a window that we had in my previous office (quite apart from the fact that I am now wholly internal).  And it’s only just over a year since the windows in my previous office were replaced and we had to fight hard to get the landlord to replace like for like with opening windows.

Good light transmission may also encourage natural use of daylight, although again for an internal office this is difficult.  Indeed the lighting strategy seems to be wholly automated – when I walk into my office the light comes on, whether I want it or not, and stays on for a period of time after I leave.  As I have only made one pre-lockdown visit, I cannot say how well this will work – or how sensitive to movement it will be.  I’m also unsure if the same strategy is used for those lucky enough to have external windows (and to benefit from that Cool-lite Xtreme glazing).  I have a nagging suspicion that this may have been influenced as much by a desire to eliminate the need to install light switches during the fit-out, as there are only fully glazed panels within reach of the door.  Equally, I can’t tell if corridor lights stay on 24/7 or if they are on a motion/daylight sensor combination. 

Saint-Gobain’s press release also mentions BREEAM, the leading assessment scheme for green buildings.  The offices appear to have achieved a “Very Good” rating, although are not shown on the BREEAM website map; while this might sound very good, there are two higher levels of achievement (excellent and outstanding).  This is perhaps a little unfair, though, as only a handful of buildings in Milton Keynes have better ratings and it is not easy to obtain a Very Good certificate.

BREEAM is not just about energy though, and includes a scoring for transport links.  The new building is let down perhaps by including an internal multi-storey car park, although with on car space for 545ft2 of floor area, provision is quite sparse.  More desirably, it apparently includes 12 EV charging spaces and 100 secure cycle parking spaces – all I have to do is find out where they are!  And of course, being 3 minutes’ walk from the main Milton Keynes Central railway station (and bus interchange) is a definite bonus, and there are plenty of public cycle hire points just outside the station, as well as dockless eBikes and eScooters in the vicinity.

Becoming a Chartered Environmentalist

Ian Byrne, Principal of IBECCS, has been a Chartered Environmentalist for over 10 years, and for much of that time has been one of the panel that assesses applications for chartership through the Energy Institute. The Society for the Environment (SocEnv) recently ran a webinar on how people can apply to become a Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv), at which Ian explained what assessors like – or dislike – on applications.

The complete webinar is still available on YouTube, and provides practical advice on how to become a Chartered Environmentalist.

COVID-19 Working Arrangements

UPDATE: IBECCS is currently back in its office (mainly) and from its new location at 100 Avebury Boulevard, Milton Keynes, MK9 1FH. This is very close to Milton Keynes Central railway station. If you want to drop in for a coffee and discussion about how to improve energy efficiency, incorporate renewables, measure your carbon footprint or start on the pathway to net zero, then please get in touch!

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, IBECCS will temporarily be working from home, with effect from 16 March 2020 This means that post sent to the IBECCS office in Exchange House will only be picked up occasionally – we will give you an alternative address for postal deliveries if necessary. Our mobile phone number is unchanged, and we can set up meetings on Zoom and participate in many other videoconferencing systems including MS-Teams, GoToMeeting, Google Meet, etc.

Currently we expect to remain in this working mode until the autumn.

March 2020 – Exchange House

IBECCS links with GreenSCIES

GreenSCIES schematic (c) Cullinan Studios

Consumers and businesses based in UK cities stand to benefit from a revolutionary low carbon smart energy grid called GreenSCIES (Green Smart Community Integrated Energy Systems), being launched today (18 February) in London and the West Midlands, by project partners: London South Bank University (LSBU), Transport for London (TfL) and the London Borough of Islington.

Cleverly concealed underground, the new smart energy grid – which has currently reached design stage – will help to power inner cities of the future, revolutionising the way we live now and transforming lives, homes and businesses into sustainable energy districts, while tackling fuel poverty and the negative effects of climate change.

GreenSCIES aims to deliver a solution which can provide low carbon and low cost transport, power and heat to a total of 12,500 homes in the London Borough of Islington and Sandwell in the West Midlands.

When constructed, GreenSCIES systems will deliver low carbon heat, mobility and power to an estimated 33,000 residents and nearly 70 local businesses in Islington. The new smart energy grid will help to reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 80% (against conventional systems) while addressing fuel poverty by providing a significant reduction on consumer bills. The system will also deliver large reductions in pollutants while improving provision of local skills training and job prospects, helping to invigorate local economies.

As a fifth-generation energy network, GreenSCIES goes further than previous projects in the UK. The system works by sharing heating and cooling between buildings, to ensure a balanced energy supply across the network. Waste heat is captured from secondary heat sources – including offices, local data centres and the public transport network. The temperature of the waste heat is then raised or cooled using heat pumps before being distributed to homes, businesses and communities, all year round.  By drawing on waste heat produced by data centres that support the Internet, the smart grid will literally channel energy from the Internet to power homes, offices and transport networks of the future.

The impact of LSBU’s research for GreenSCIES reaches well beyond the capital and will be relevant wherever there are sources of unwanted heat, for example large data centres, industrial heat and mine water.

The smart energy network will generate power from renewable energy sources while connecting to the electricity grid and to electric vehicles. It will use artificial intelligence controls to connect flexible electricity demands from heat pumps and electric vehicles to intermittent renewable sources, including solar power – delivering clean, locally produced energy while reducing pollution and supporting a transition to low carbon transport.

The ground-breaking engineering science behind GreenSCIES has been developed by the GreenSCIES consortium – a collection of 16 business partners including a number of Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs), under the umbrella InnovateUK and funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Ian Byrne, the principal at IBECCS, is working as an associate on the programme, alongside Consortio Limited , one of the full project partners, with a focus on the business model work stream .

For the latest information on the project, please visit the GreenSCIES website.

End to end transport emission calculations

Transport emissions are often one of the trickiest parts of an organisation’s carbon footprint calculation, especially when comparing indirect emissions from different modes of transport under scope 3. How can we decide whether rail or road is better? Are aviation emissions for belly freight always worse than shipping goods? How do we take account of passenger load factors when they can vary between time of day as much as between type of transport?

IBECCS is always keen to find practical solutions, while staying at the forefront of developing robust and clear calculation methodologies. So we’re pleased to report that Ian Byrne, principal, was able to represent the UK at the initial meeting of the working group developing an international standard for the Quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions of transport operations – which is intended to become ISO 14083.

Ian Byrne (4th from left) at the inaugural ISO 14083 working group meeting held at the US EPA National Vehicle & Fuel emissions Laboratory, Ann Arbor, Michigan, on 7-8 November 2019.

The meeting focused on the framework and scope for the proposed international standard, including both freight and passenger transport operations, as well as multi-modal transport chains. Designed to enable comprehensive end to end calculations, to enable clearer comparisons between transport modes, it will also include energy from transport hubs, including ferry ports, airports and railway stations, and associated facilities such as cold storage units while goods are waiting to be transferred between modes, as can be seen in the freight schematic below:

Freight transport chain emission calculation (from Figure 1, WD 14083)

Discussions also hinged on how to link the new standard to existing initiatives, including the European standard EN 16258 and the US Smartway program, whether or not default values should be incorporated, how to treat electric vehicles, and how to ensure that outputs are robust yet not too complex to be adopted widely.

Ian Byrne is working closely with colleagues on the BSI committee SES/1/7 to ensure that a wide range of UK opinions and expertise can be input into the deliberations of the ISO working group.