Efficiency Action

The Energy Efficiency Council's monthly e-newsletter, exclusively for EEC Members.

May 2016

CEO Welcome

Dear EEC members,

It's been another packed month for the Council. The EEC is more active than ever across policy, projects, training and events, as you'll note from the updates below.

But like many of you, we’ve also been deep in the planning process for the coming financial year. I’ve been working closely with the Board to refine our strategy for 2016/17, with a focus on putting the Council and its members in the best position possible to press the case for ambitious energy efficiency across the economy.

I'll have more to say on the EEC's 2016/17 strategy soon. But suffice to say we are focused on raising the Council's profile, stepping up our influence in the national energy policy debate, and pursuing partnerships that help us change the way Australians think about energy use. Energy markets and technology are transforming, and it's up to us as an industry to ensure that sensible, cost effective energy efficiency is at the core of the transition.

We're entering a critical period, and it will all kick off the launch of our national platform at a high profile luncheon in Sydney on July 19. I look forward to seeing you there – more details in the policy update below.

There's never been a more exciting time to be a member of the Energy Efficiency Council.


Luke Menzel, CEO, Energy Efficiency Council

Efficiency Action - May 2016


May 2016 Policy Update

Technology spotlight: Efficient alternatives to compressed air

Finding the connections essential - Building Retrofit Toolkit Scoping Study finalised

Taking the temperature of Australia’s energy efficiency services market

Learning from our differences - Energy management in New Zealand

Awards, training and subsidies

May 2016 - Policy Update

Rob Murray-Leach, the EEC's Executive, Policy & Advocacy, looks at the latest developments in energy efficiency policy and programs from around Australia and overseas.

With Australia in the middle of a federal election, governments have been much quieter. The Commonwealth Government has gone into formal ‘caretaker mode’ and State and Territory Governments are avoiding any announcements that could upset the national debate.

There is, of course, still plenty going on. All the federal parties have committed to targets to improve Australia’s energy efficiency - the Coalition set a goal to improve energy productivity by 40 per cent by 2030, and the ALP and Greens have set goals to improve energy productivity by 100 percent by 2030.

The Energy Efficiency Council is preparing to hit the ground running straight after the election. We will launch our comprehensive policy platform at a lunch in Sydney on 19 July 2016. I’m delighted that we’ll be able to announce our high-profile speakers in the next fortnight. Tickets will be limited, and we encourage members to book a place as soon as possible. Our launch will be followed by a major event for energy users (details TBC), so this will be a great opportunity to meet leaders and potential clients.

In Victoria, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, the Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, has gained responsibility for climate change and the environment. This will enable a much more integrated approach to energy and climate change, and could result in a much more aggressive Victorian Energy Efficiency and Productivity Strategy. We understand that, due to the change in ministerial responsibilities, the strategy is now likely to be released in the second half of 2016. We are continuing to engage with the Victorian Government on this issue.

The Victorian Government will also hold a major one-day forum on the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target on 15 June 2016. The forum will focus on:

  • New methods- including project based activities
  • Revisions to existing methods, and
  • Proposed changes to strengthen the scheme.

We encourage members to block this date out in their diary. The Victorian Government will soon release the agenda for the day and will then open registrations for the event.

Finally, EEC representatives met with staff from the NSW Government (including IPART and the Office of Environment and Heritage) to discuss improvements to the NSW Energy Savings Scheme. Following this meeting, the EEC will be working on two major priorities:

  • National collaboration to improve compliance for energy efficiency schemes. The EEC has long advocated a move away from lengthy administrative processes to spot-audits and enforcement, with a focus on eliminating those companies that undermine the schemes; and
  • National collaboration on administrative harmonisation, with a focus on product registration and methodology approvals (i.e. signing of on certificate creators measurement and verification processes).

We'll keep you appraised of developments on this important agenda.

Technology spotlight: Efficient alternatives to compressed air

In this month's tech spotlight, Bruce Rowse examines the use of compressed air in industry and looks at energy efficient alternatives.  

Compressed air is widely used in industry. The clickity-clack of pneumatic actuators is a familiar sound in production lines. Compressed air is also used for air tools, cleaning down machinery, or for inflating tyres.

Pneumatic actuators and air tools are inexpensive, fairly reliable, fast, lightweight, and have a high power to weight ratio. They can be safely used in explosive environments. Yet compressed air itself is expensive, and highly inefficient to produce. In a typical industrial application end-to-end efficiency is generally only between 10% to 15%!

Often an energy auditor will seek ways to reduce compressed air leakage, lower pressure, and better size compressor capacity to demand. Proportionally, this may produce a big saving. But even after this exercise, around 80% of the electrical energy going into the compressor is not resulting in any useful work.

So is it practical to try to eliminate compressed air end-usage either partially or completely? Unfortunately this question isn’t asked enough at the design stage – always the best time to save energy. Many times it’s simply assumed that a manufacturing or processing line will use compressed air. Yet there are now more efficient alternatives to compressed air for air-tools (electric and battery tools) and for some cleaning applications (blowers).

But what about pneumatic actuators, the main use of compressed air in many industries?

Electric actuators, powered by a servo motor or stepper motor moving a screw, have several advantages. Efficiency is up to around 80%, they provide better positioning accuracy and can be quieter. When production lines need to be reconfigured to operate with different products, it is often much faster to change over a line with electric actuators, which can generate large productivity savings where changeovers are frequent. Power and speed from an electric actuator is more consistent over its lifetime than with pneumatic actuators, which have seals that wear out. That means electric actuators need fewer adjustments to keep a production line running.

But electric actuators cost more, are heavier and bulkier, and are not as powerful or as fast.

Nonetheless for applications with high duty cycles, total cost of ownership (TCO) is generally lower with electric actuators because of the energy savings. For applications requiring frequent production line reconfigurations, TCO is lower due to labour savings and productivity is enhanced.

Generally a retrofit to existing lines is challenging, due to the larger size and weight of electric actuators. This means the main opportunity is at the design/product specification stage.

But serious consideration of electric actuators, particularly at the design stage, could lead to much greater savings than can ever be achieved even with the most efficient compressed air system. One whole industry – the HVAC controls industry – has moved completely away from compressed air to electric actuators, and electricity is now usually preferred, rather than air, to power control valves.

With greater consideration at the design stage, that clickity-clack of pneumatic actuators could become less common, with benefits for efficiency and productivity.

Further reading:

Electric actuators vs. pneumatic cylinders: A comparison based on total cost of ownership

Electric vs. Pneumatic Actuators

Finding the connections essential - Building Retrofit Toolkit Scoping Study finalised

The Energy Efficiency Council and the Property Council of Australia have recently completed the Building Retrofit Toolkit Scoping Study which sets out a structure and approach for a widespread, effective effort to improve the energy perfiormance of 'mid-tier' office buildings

Good energy performance has become a ‘ticket to play’ in some parts of the commercial office property market, particularly those larger office buildings occupied by large corporate and government tenants. However there is a significant proportion of the commercial office sector that still face significant barriers to realising these energy savings and the associated benefits. 

These buildings tend to be the B, C and D-grade buildings – as classified by the Property Council of Australia (PCA) Guide to Office Building Quality – and commonly defined as the ‘mid-tier’. With as much as 80% of the 64 million square metres of commercial office space in Australia classified as mid-tier[1], the scale of unrealised energy efficiency opportunity is enormous.

Working in partnership with the PCA and with the support of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, the study involved extensive research into the information needs of thise involved in the building upgrade process and  identification and assessment of existing support materials.

A number of projects across different jurisdictions working with small cohorts of mid-tier officer building owners have achieved excellent improvements in energy performance. Most recently, results from Sustainability Victoria’s mid-tier focussed Energy Efficient Office Buildings program show an average 28 per cent reduction in energy use in less than 3 years simple payback.

However, the key finding of the scoping study, reflecting the consensus of the experts engaged, is that connecting with the mid-tier target audience remains the biggest challenge of efforts to drive further performance improvements in commercial office buildings.

Industry and government are yet to establish a replicable, scalable and sustainable method of connecting with mid-tier owners to drive participation in performance upgrade initiatives, or respond to legislative changes. 

Developing an effective national engagement approach requires careful research and compilation of data on two key characteristics of the mid-tier.

The first is the Physical Condition of the mid-tier market nationally, including number, size, location, grade, ownership structure, management approach, tenant profile, energy performance and equipment condition. This will help us identify the timing of critical decision making points and the window for energy upgrade opportunities.

The second is the Human Condition – the mind-set of building owners, managers and other actors in the upgrade process. This will allow us to identify the messages that will resonate with them, and pathways for getting these messages to them effectively.

There is strong consensus among experts that a one-size-fits-all approach the mid-tier engagement will have very little likelihood of success. Research into the Physical Condition and Human Condition of the mid-tier will allow target groups to be accurately identified, and messages and engagement pathways to be tailored accordingly.

The EEC is now focused on fully scoping these projects, and securing project funding to unlock the significant untapped opportunity in the mid-tier.

To get involved in this work, you can contact Shauna Coffey by clicking here.

[1] Green Building Council of Australia (2015) Mid-tier commercial office buildings in Australia: A national pathway to improving energy productivity

Taking the temperature of Australia’s energy efficiency services market

With the support of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), the EEC's Shauna Coffey has developed a suite metrics able to provide critical insight into the health and maturity of Energy Efficiency Services Market (EESM). 

There is concensus among experts that a regular assessment of the state of the energy efficiency markets in Australia, including the rate of improvement of energy efficiency, growth in the number and quality of energy efficiency service providers and changing business confidence, would assist EEC members with business planning and help governments to develop and assess energy efficiency programs.

For the EEC, it would inform and support Council’s work to make sensible, cost effective energy efficiency measures standard practice across the Australian economy.

However, the EESM is complex with a wide variety of services brought to energy users through a range of business models. Specialist (or ‘core’) energy efficiency services companies are part of the market, but represent only a small fraction of the whole EESM. For the vast majority, the energy efficiency service is provided as part of a boarder service, without energy efficiency necessarily being core to the identity of the provider (termed ‘allied providers’).

This makes the EESM a particularly challenging market segment to define and measure using traditional metrics of market size such as ‘total revenue’ and ‘units sold’.

Given this, the EEC was commissioned to scope a 'goal' state – an ideal market scenario, one in which sophisticated energy management and energy efficiency practices are commonplace in all energy users, supported by a mature EESM and positive action from other market influencers. By coparing this goal state to the current market, and considering likely transitional states, key elements of market movement – and potential metrics for tracking this movement – were identified. 

The metrics are a mix of ‘data capture’, referring to the collation of existing data through desktop review and ‘survey’ where new data would be generated through survey of the appropriate source across the following categories:

  • End-use efficiency
  • Employment in EEMS
  • EEMS business sentiment
  • Depth and breadth of the EEMS
  • Expertise in EESM
  • Perception of policy
  • End user engagement

Establishing a baseline for this data, and monitoring and reporting it over time, is a high priority for the Council. The EEC is now focused on the development of robust, auditable, replicable methodologies that will allow this critical data to be captured and shared.

If you are interested in this work, you can contact Shauna Coffey by clicking here.

Learning from our differences - Energy management in New Zealand

Returning from a recent trip to New Zeland, Rob Murray-Leach reflects on the energy management culture of our kiwi cousins, and some big opportunities to work together.

New Zealand is a fascinating place. On one hand it is Australia’s closest cousin, both geographically and culturally. On the other, it has a fundamentally different self-identify. Australia’s loud confidence is often contrasted to New Zealand’s self-effacing pride.

History and the landscapes contributed to these differences. Australia is vast, with boundless plains of heat, bushfire and lethal animals. New Zealand is compact and temperate. Its national bird is, at worst, a tripping hazard.

I spoke at the Energy Management Association of New Zealand (EMANZ) 2016 conference in Auckland on 17-18 May, focusing on Australia’s National Energy Productivity Plan (NEPP) and the Energy Efficiency Council’s work to transform the energy performance of the office sector. I learned a lot from my time in New Zealand, including some critical lessons for Australia.

Firstly, New Zealand is facing many of the same challenges as Australia. How do you drive up energy efficiency? How do you respond to a rapidly changing energy sector, with the emergence of distributed generation, energy storage and electric vehicles? However, there are fundamental differences. Over 85 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity supply already comes from renewable sources. While locals still complain about their electricity network companies, they are light-years ahead on demand-management.

Secondly, New Zealand is also struggling with general productivity growth (including labour and capital productivity). Their productivity growth has lagged the world for many decades. There are three contributing factors really stood out for me. Firstly, New Zealand is a small, remote market and this has allowed poor practices to persist. Secondly, many companies (including manufacturing and services) have poor management by world standards. Thirdly, they have massively underinvested in equipment and processes to improve productivity.

There are some very clear lessons for Australia. Australia is also a relatively small and remote market, management isn’t always fantastic and companies massively underinvest in improvements in productivity. This is a huge opportunity for smarter energy use. Improving the performance of an office boosts worker productivity. Upgrading a manufacturing site saves energy, but also improves resource efficiency and overall productivity.

This highlights an idea that has been fermenting in the EEC policy team – while ‘energy productivity’ is good (producing more for each unit of energy), using smart energy services to boost overall productivity is a far more powerful concept for business. Examples abound: the energy audit of a manufacturing site that identifies a bottleneck and raised overall productivity 20 per cent. The building retrofit that cuts sick days by 10 per cent. We have much more to offer the market than we think.

Third, we can unlock huge amounts of investment in energy management if we identify WHO should be investing and HOW to package up investments. Energy users might be the right people to upgrade their insulation, but utilities or aggregators are better placed to invest in regional demand-response programs. In addition, government or private-sector organisations could become investors (rather than just financiers) for thousands of smart energy projects, if we can standardise the projects and enable the investors to capture the returns.

Fourth, there are huge opportunities if we can create a larger regional market for energy efficiency services, potentially expanding beyond New Zealand to the Asia-Pacific. If we can standardise training, certifications, regulations and systems like NABERS across the region it would create opportunities to develop a bigger, more competitive and robust market for EEC members’ services.

Finally, New Zealand has a different energy management culture. They lack many of the key regulations that we have, such as the Commercial Building Disclosure scheme. As a result of these gaps in regulation, while they still have some world-leading ‘green buildings’, the average performance of their premium buildings is relatively poor.

However, they have a much more proactive energy management culture among industry. New Zealand has also had over a decade of bipartisan support for action on energy efficiency. This context gave birth to a national government body that drives energy efficiency, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), led by the extremely capable Mike Underhill. Mike has shown a deft hand for gently shifting the energy management culture in New Zealand.

In summary, we have much to learn from New Zealand. Australia needs a national agency to drive energy efficiency. We should work together to build regional markets for energy efficiency services. We should implore our governments to help improve the productivity, not just the energy productivity, of our manufacturers. We should create new mechanisms for investing in energy efficiency. New Zealand may beat us at rugby, but they are still our favourite cousins, and I’m looking forward to strengthening our ties.

Particular thanks to my charming and wonderful host, Ewan Gebbie, outgoing CEO of EMANZ and a tribute to his country.


Awards, training and subsidies

Sustainability awards opening in NSW and Victoria

Two flagship State Government sustainability awards programs have recently opened applications for 2016.

The NSW Government’s Green Globe Awards are the leading environmental recognition program, celebrating the work of organisations and individuals who are demonstrating excellence and innovation in sustainability. To find out more about the awards, click here

The Premier's Sustainability Awards recognise and reward Victorians who are leading the way to a sustainable future across all industry, business and community from regional to metropolitan Victoria. To find out more about the awards, click here

CMVP training in Sydney, 15-17 August – registrations now open

Registrations are now open for the CMVP training & exam program to be held in Sydney on 15-17 August 2016.

The CMVP program consists of a 2.5 day Measurement & Verification Fundamentals workshop, designed to introduce M&V practitioners to the application of the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP). The workshop is followed by a 4 hour examination for those who wish to achieve CMVP status.

Places on all programs are limited, so complete your registration as soon as possible to ensure you don't miss out!

To read more or to register for the CMVP program, click here

Do you lead energy performance upgrades of commercial buildings?  Subsidies for certifying your skills about to close

Energy Efficiency Certification Scheme (EECS) application subsidies provided by the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH) will close on 30 June 2016.

The EECS certifies individuals that can lead and manager comprehensive energy performance upgrades of commercial buildings.

Available since mid-2015, the subsidies have provided significant application fee discounts to eligible NSW based professionals. The current $1210 (incl. gst) subsidy will continue to be provided to eligible applicants until the closing date.

For more information on the Scheme or to begin the application process, please visit the website by clicking here or contact the Scheme office on 03 8327 8422.