Council’s energy use benchmarking analysis to be extended to ensure full picture

Members at today’s (16 March 2023) meeting of Highland Council’s Climate Change Committee agreed to extend a benchmarking exercise which has been assessing the local authority’s energy performance across its estate. 

Benchmarking energy performance is a process that compares the energy use of a building with other similar structures. It supports organisations in understanding how and where they use energy and what factors drive their energy use. 

It also helps to identify building upgrade opportunities that can reduce carbon emissions and expenditure by lowering energy consumption and operating costs. 

Utilising the Scottish Public Sector Energy Benchmarking Tool, an evaluation of the Highland Council property estate has been undertaken over the past 3 months. 

The evaluation compared relative energy and water performances to Scotland specific energy benchmarks for public sector buildings. 

It was reported that with regard to the non-domestic estate, there are approximately 1,029 sites with active utility supplies, with a combined total of 2,323 individual utility supplies. 

Analysis to date identified instances of both good and poor energy performance, however it was highlighted in the time available, it was not possible to undertake the required site liaison and investigation, which is important to incorporate context into the assessments. 

A request was made for additional time to allow this aspect of refinement to be undertaken which would improve the value and deliverables of the exercise. 

Members agreed that an extension of the analysis would be beneficial and appropriate to ensure the most accurate data and analysis was available to support the delivery of the Net Zero Strategy. 

Chair of the Highland Council Climate Change Committee, Cllr Karl Rosie, said: “As the benchmarking process has developed it has become apparent that a greater than expected level of site input and information is required to provide full re-assurance in the stated performance assessments.  

“This was not achievable to facilitate within the timeframe available. We have therefore taken the sensible decision to continue the exercise and an update will be taken back to the Climate Change Committee in October.” 

He added: “A short-life working group will be established, with representation from the Energy Team, Property, Facilities Management staff and High Life Highland to facilitate the collation and understanding of the factors impacting on energy performance within the THC non-domestic estate. 

“We look forward to seeing a refresh of energy data based upon the financial year 2022/23, which will reflect a more stable period and be a truer reflection of actual performances.” 

The current report can be found here under Item 4.

16 Mar 2023