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Flying high: achieving the energy reduction BSI Kitemark

Flying high: achieving the energy reduction BSI Kitemark

Our energy reduction has been verified by the British Standards Institute. Read about it here.


For the last three years we’ve been putting the systems and processes in place to improve our energy management. And the hard work has paid off. We’ve recently had our energy reduction verified by the British Standards Institute Energy Reduction Verification Kitemark scheme. So we caught up with Duncan Cockburn, Head of Energy at Virgin Media to find out more!

A Kitemark for energy reduction? What was involved?

Virgin Media has nearly 800 different energy supplies covering offices, technical buildings and shops. With a mix of quarterly and monthly accounts we get around 8000 bills a year. All that data is managed by our Data Partner, Inenco. They validate our bills and process them for payment and record all our data for other things like carbon reporting and energy management.

To be successful in the British Standards Institute Energy Reduction Verification (BSI ERV) scheme, we needed to demonstrate a reduction in energy use over a 3 year period and demonstrate that the data used was accurate and consistent. This involved 11 auditor days and 22 site visits to check everything from making sure that the electricity meter supplying the Liverpool One store matched the bill, to checking that all our sums added up.

What reduction did you demonstrate?

We started the process of verifying our reduction energy with BSI in November 2010 and took a three year period ending September 2010 (as this was the most up to date data we had). Since September 2007, we demonstrated to the auditors that our data was consistent and complete and showed an absolute reduction in energy use of 3.4%. Looking at the data relative to how much we’ve grown as a business, the numbers look even better. We use a measure called RGU, which stands for revenue generating unit and basically gives an indication of how many different services we’re providing to our customers. Based on RGU, we reduced energy use by 6.8% in three years. This means we have been doing more while using less.

Why is this important?

We’ve been openly reporting our energy consumption for a while now but there is always a question of quality assurance; are we consistent in the data we use and is that data correct? Whilst we are confident in the numbers we generate, we recognise that is not always enough so we decided to get the data independently verified.

Why use BSI?

There are a number of providers out there but we chose BSI for two reasons. First because the BSI Kitemark ERV scheme is based on a robust internationally recognised energy management standard, BS EN 16001. Second because we want to come out as high as possible in the Performance League table, which will be launched in October 2011 as part of the government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC). Achieving the Kitemark will put us ahead of those companies unable to independently verify their energy reductions.

How does the Performance League table work?

The CRC, a scheme to compare energy performance, mandate carbon reporting and raise tax for the Treasury, will publically report each year a league table where all of the roughly 2700 participants will be ranked. To rank high in the first year (2010/11) participants will need to demonstrate early action in energy reduction and this falls into two areas; verified reduction in emissions over a three year period and the installation of automatic metering. So achieving the Kitemark puts us in a great position and our AMR programme will too.

Why is the league table important?

The way the CRC was originally developed meant that there were financial benefits from doing well. The idea was that participants would have to buy carbon allowances to match their emissions and then give up those allowances with each Annual Report. The driver was that if you performed better than others, you would get up to 110% of the money back but if you performed badly you’d only get 90% back. However, following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010, the decision was made that none of the money would be given back. As a result, the league table position is now about reputation. The best companies in this respect are those that can demonstrate they have been managing energy in the early years and who can continue to reduce consumption as the scheme progresses. And our competitive spirit means that we want to be up there near the top!