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Monitoring energy to reduce emissions and costs

How the implementation of an energy monitoring system can be used to measure and reduce energy consumption.

by Nicola Pichel-Juan

Image © adventtr |

Most organisations today will either have a strategy to reduce their Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions, or at least be aware that this is something toward which they should be working. An increasing number of organisations are also looking to understand their Scope 3 emissions. Please see the article 'Organisational carbon footprint' which covers how to measure such emmissions in greater detail.

As a recap, Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are those directly under an organisation’s control. Scope 1 emissions would be those from sources such as company cars and fugitive emissions from air conditioning (the unintentional or intentional release of greenhouse gases), Scope 2 emissions are associated with energy purchased by the organisation, and Scope 3 emissions are all the others which occur either upstream or downstream within the organisation's business supply chain.

Scope 2 emissions from the production of purchased energy should be relatively easy to measure and track over time by simply examining energy bills for a given period. However, the ability to reduce that energy consumption can be much more challenging.

Energy-saving actions

Some of the more obvious actions to take are transitioning to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting (if not already done), installing solar panels and ensuring that equipment is switched off when not in use. However, for more complex or high consumption sites such as manufacturing facilities, large offices, and for organisations operating across multiple sites, it may be that some sort of energy monitoring system is required to really understand where, when and how much energy is being consumed. Such systems measure incoming energy into the building – typically electricity, gas and water – and how that energy is subsequently distributed to different areas around the building. Individual pieces of equipment can also be monitored if this is required.

Once implemented, the system will allow any high-usage energy hotspots to be identified, as well as providing an understanding of any unexpected consumption – for instance, relatively high energy use at times when the site is not operational and only minimal energy should be required, or sudden unexpected peaks and troughs in usage.

SATRA’s Kettering head office, where all its UK-based testing takes place, is a high energy consumption site, with testing running 24/7 for 51 weeks of the year. Some of the equipment required to support that testing, such as humidity conditioning and compressed air systems, is very energy-intensive. In October 2022, SATRA installed the first phase of an energy monitoring system. This measures how much electricity comes into the building and from there how much electricity flows to the next level of electricity distribution boards in different areas of the building. The data collected is automatically sent to an online portal where it can be viewed and analysed. It is even possible to overlay the data with the external temperature at the time, in order to understand the impact this has on the overall demand for energy due to heating or cooling requirements.

Energy monitors on SATRA’s main electricity distribution board

What are SATRA's Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions?

In 2022, SATRA started to measure its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions for the first time, starting by collecting relevant data looking back to 2021. The table below shows the greenhouse gas emissions measured in tonnes of CO2e at SATRA’s main Wyndham Way site in 2021 and 2022.

Year Scope 1 emissions
tonnes CO2e
Scope 2 emissions
tonnes CO2e
Total Scopes 1 and 2
tonnes CO2e
2021 225.5 358.8 584.3
2022 104.1 318.1 422.2

The drop in Scope 1 emissions from 2021 to 2022 is due to a reduction in emissions from our air-conditioning systems. The reduction in Scope 2 emissions from 2021 to 2022 is the result of a 5 per cent reduction in energy consumption at the site, as well as an underlying reduction in the emissions intensity per unit of electricity generated in the UK over the same period.

For context, the production and distribution of an ‘average’ pair of shoes might have an impact of around 12 kg of CO2e, which means that SATRA’s impact was equivalent to around 48,700 pairs of shoes in 2021 and 35,200 pairs in 2022.`FD

Identifying heavy usage

After an initial period of data collection, it was possible to identify that at SATRA over 50 per cent of the energy was being consumed by just two of the 12 first-level distribution boards, so these became the primary area of focus. Having real-time data proved to be extremely powerful and allowed us to immediately see and understand the impact of any changes made on overall energy consumption.

One particular experiment involved changing a particular process for an initial 24-hour trial period. This resulted in a 22 per cent reduction in energy consumed through the relevant distribution board, which equated to a 7 per cent reduction in SATRA’s overall energy consumption when compared with the previous 24 hours. Over the course of a year, this amounts to both a huge reduction in SATRA’s emissions, and a significant cost reduction at a time when energy costs are so high.

The relationship between SATRA’s energy consumption and outside temperature – based on data obtained from the monitoring system

Our energy monitoring system will play a key role in setting targets to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and monitoring our progress against those targets. We are planning to install further permanent monitoring in certain areas of the building to provide an even more detailed view of our energy usage. We will also be using the same system to temporarily deploy sensors to certain pieces of equipment, to measure their energy consumption and understand both the environmental and financial impacts of running them.

Based on SATRA’s experience so far, this type of monitoring system would be highly beneficial in any energy-intensive production environment to identify opportunities to reduce consumption and therefore emissions and costs.

How can we help?

Please contact for further information on energy monitoring and measuring organisational carbon footprints.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 14 of the May 2023 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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