Lee Moor Business Park, Private Sector Display Pilot
Lee Moor Business Park
Lee Moor Business Park is a unique example of
farm diversification in the far north east of England in the UK. To date
it has produced four Display certificates within the complex of
buildings. The mix of energy efficiency, smart and sub‐metering and
renewables add to the value of this case study.
Involvement in the Display projects was driven by business park
manager and entrepreneur, Ian Brown, and his experience offers
insights into the opportunities and risks for the use of Display in the
small and medium sized enterprise market.
Ian Brown, the founder of the business park in Northumberland is a third generation farmer who has reinvented the opportunity of land, buildings and human capital. Ian is very much the driving force behind Lee Moor Farm’s involvement in the Display campaign.
Ian’s interest in energy management started long before the introduction of the Display project. As far back as 1995, Ian carried out an energy efficiency reporting exercise with the Government’s advisory service, which explained what energy was being used on the farm and within the embryonic business park. The report exposed that the farm was emitting 60 tonnes of CO2. This experience inspired Ian who went on to persuade the LEAF (Linking the Environment and Farming) organisation to include energy efficiency within their audit. Since this development, the LEAF audit has been completed by thousands of farmers.
From this small intervention has come a lifelong interest in energy efficiency and renewables energy which has brought Lee Moor Farm to the position it is in today with a 150KW KWB TDS Austrian biomass boiler, photovoltaics and growing all of its own fuel for heat requirements. Ian has also started to supply heat to Defra’s – the government department that looks after environmental and food issues – building in the local town of Alnwick. This is a zero emissions building.
Having fitted renewable energy generating technologies at Lee Moor Farm and sought tenants from the energy efficiency and renewable sectors, Ian has been keen to install smart meters for heat, electric and water. This led to working with and fitting a water meter from Demeter Ltd that gave real time remote sensing through the internet, all of this helping the tenants on the business park to quantify and then reduce their utility use.
Ian is particularly conscious of the importance of education and communication as he has a long personal history of educational interaction. The farm already has an interpretation centre so that visitors can understand what changes have taken place on the site in the last 59 years. He saw the
Display project as an opportunity to engage tenants directly with their energy and water use on site and to help them manage their own use of resources.
For Ian there is a strong overlap in relation to economic, social and environmental factors; running the business park at Lee Moor allows these three areas to synchronise around his ambition for it to be a great place to come to work.
Lee Moor Business Park is owned by the associated trusts of The Duke of Northumberland, a seven hundred year old business, and as such the activities carried out on site are as a result of the creative direction of Ian Brown as the Business Park Manager and the permissions granted by the landlord. This site therefore is subject to a number of factors that affect its management.
The fact that the buildings have been converted from farm buildings and that many of the buildings are sub‐divided into different uses means that it is not straightforward to complete a series of Display posters. The site luckily has been sub‐metered and Ian has developed ways of estimating energy use by looking at how the twenty tenants use their parts of the buildings and looking for areas that have some shared utilisation of the heat/water and utilities The experience of producing Energy Performance Certificates for the units in May 2009 helped Ian to develop this approach. The site is a good test of the Display data requirements because of the complicated nature of the site compared to for example a single office building, in terms of construction and use.
The complex nature of the farm and business park site has meant it has taken longer to implement the Display activities than originally planned.
Ian also recognises that production and display of the posters may well lead to a reduced financial gain to the landlord/business park manager, as he is the energy provider, so sees this as a lack of imperative for him to act. Long term it would seem to be an extra incentive for the tenants to help themselves to lower utilities bills and greenhouse gas production. This is an example of an extreme split incentive where not only does the business manager not benefit from the programme he is introducing (in terms of energy bill savings) but he is also in a position where he will lose from reduced energy sales.
The first four Display certificates were produced using sub‐meter readings from around the business park. Where no accurate data was available, the business park manager’s detailed working knowledge of the site was called on to accurately work out the predicted usage. This process proved to be more than accurate enough to produce a reasonably accurate Display certificate, although this might not be replicable in other locations.
The certificates did show significant differences depending on the utilisation of the building by the business. It should be noted however that certain business premises were removed from the project on the grounds that the use of the building was not well served in the Display calculation. For example the Farm Bakery has a very small floor area but very high utility usage and the Display tool does not contain a building type benchmark designed for such premises.
Feedback on the Display Tool and Display Campaign
The consistency maintained in the presentation of the energy rating on energy using equipment ratings, EPCs and Display Energy Certificates is very helpful and the presentation of the Display certificate is very eye catching. This has proved an excellent starting point for engaging tenants on the site. Within the ‘community’ that is Lee Moor Farm business park, this visual tool can be capitalised on in the future to create an element of competition between the tenants on energy and water management.
The project has also generated a request from a tenant to install more metering on the site so that any ’guess work’ can be eliminated.
Ian’s plan for Lee Moor is that it becomes a best practice site for energy efficiency and renewables and that there is a “field to radiator” approach to energy management on the site. The ability to market Lee Moor as innovative and one step in front is very important to Ian Brown so
involvement in the Display project contributes to this aim.
The fact that the businesses on site pay their utilities to the landlord and not to the utility company is unusual. In this case a sophisticated set of benefits that appeal to all players within the business park – the tenants, the landlord, and the business park manager supplying the utilities – needs to be developed.
On a personal level Ian was involved in Europe ten years ago in the policy intervention side of agriculture with the Council of European Young Farmers (CEJA) and he has enjoyed the European dimension of this project and the travel to Brussels and links to other like minded individuals from several locations across Europe. In this way networking and contact making has been one of the benefits felt by members of the pilot group of companies testing the Display tool and being part of the Europe‐wide campaign.
An important overarching point that precludes involvement in the Display campaign is the structure of the private sector, led by entrepreneurs, which is driven by a complex matrix of incentives, and less by legislative requirements than is the case in the public sector. Understanding
this matrix of incentives is especially important in the current context of the recession. The private sector will need to be convinced, but even when convinced and individuals are interested, other parts of the business that require attention can divert from non‐essential activities like Display
style voluntary initiatives. The private sector working environment is very dynamic, particularly for small and medium sized enterprises or entrepreneurs. Bigger business may well be less dynamic with longer timescales and less reactive or responsive business models which may afford a greater degree of certainty of commitment.
The role of a key champion or driver of change has been crucial. It is clear that the tenants of Lee Moor Farm have been keen to be involved in Display but relied heavily on Ian undertaking the data gathering and poster production work. Ian’s detailed knowledge of the site and the tenant companies, built up over a lengthy period, was also invaluable in facilitating the mplementation of the Display activities. It seems however, that there will have to be significant ongoing ’hand holding’ and articulation of benefits to get the tenants to take on this certification and turn awareness into cultural and behavioural change. It is only at this point that the scheme will have been a complete success.
It has also been of interest to compare the EPC process with Display and to see how the scores and ranking compare. The mixed use site compounded by the breadth of tenant activity and the different building construction types makes for an interesting utilisation of Display. The multi/smart meter elements to this site perhaps hold the future as to the incentivisation of the tenants based on a self‐logging system in the measurement of utilities. There will also need to be strong leadership and inspirational dialogue to get the most out of the energy saving opportunities on the site.
Overall it is clear that there needs to be a simplification and incentivisation of this initiative. It is a given that for a small percentage the incentive is cost and carbon reduction but for many more the market place and existing knowledge may not be enough to start them on this journey.
To know more
|Lee Moor Business Park|
||Lee Moor Farm Business Park, Rennington, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 3RL|
||(+44)(0) 1665 577 253|
||(+44)(0) 1665 577 253|
||Lee moor Business Park|