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Viewpoint: Energy Savings Opporunity Scheme guidance from Peter Ducker

04 February 2016
Viewpoint: Energy Savings Opporunity Scheme guidance from Peter Ducker

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme requires hospitality firms to report their energy use. And if you have never heard of it, you're not alone, says Institute of Hospitality chief executive Peter Ducker

According to some, the UK hospitality and leisure sector does not have a great record when it comes to publishing data on its environmental impact. Dominic Burbridge, associate director of business at the Carbon Trust, says that other industries such as retail, construction and professional services are "streets ahead" of hospitality and leisure in terms of measuring their overall environmental impact and having a unified sector strategy.

Why should this be? First, the fragmented nature of the UK hotel industry is a barrier to collecting comprehensive sector data. Just over 55% of the UK's 45,000 hotels are independent and the majority are small units with some 33,000 having fewer than 10 bedrooms. Second, although most businesses take some action to be sustainable, it is not always clear what they should be doing, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. Third, unless forced, hospitality businesses are generally unwilling to share information about their environmental performance. They do not want the risk of being competitively disadvantaged, or being accused of not doing as much as they could.

They want to avoid headlines such as: ‘Manchester United crashes down the carbon reduction league table,' which greeted the publication of the Government's mandatory Carbon Reduction Commitment performance league table in 2013. The ranking of more than 2,000 large businesses was discontinued after just two years. Critics argued that those that had already made significant savings would find it harder to deliver further year-on-year savings (hence Manchester United's dramatic nosedive).

Awareness of ESOS, which requires qualifying businesses to report their energy consumption and identify areas for reduction, has been low. The original 5 December 2015 deadline for eligible firms to comply was extended to 29 January 2016.

However, given the shortness of the extension, with Christmas shutdowns and busy trading periods for those not closed, it will have made little difference to the backlog of companies that still need to complete an ESOS audit. Only 16% of eligible UK firms have said they will be ready.

ESOS can truly help businesses save money, but there has clearly not been enough publicity and advice from the Environment Agency to help firms get ready; building useful steps that really push for action must come soon.

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