Building services engineers should become less interested in ‘boys’ toys’ and focus more on making sure every building they design ‘automatically’ saves energy, according to former Environment Minister John Gummer – now Lord Deben.
During his keynote address to the CIBSE Building Performance Conference, he said engineers needed to stop focusing so much on technology and put more effort into communicating their ideas in plain English, so that the general public could buy into the concept of energy saving.
He said too many UK businesses were missing out on major cost savings ‘because they can’t accept the primacy of energy efficiency’. He also blamed a series of Energy Ministers, who felt the need to build ‘monuments’ to mark their time in office – with the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power station being the latest example.
‘I am looking forward to a time when an Energy Minister doesn’t put up any monuments, but helps every business in the country by getting them to cut their energy use instead,’ Lord Deben told delegates at the QEII Conference Centre in London.
He also attacked the ‘doom and gloom merchants’ who say energy efficiency is too difficult. ‘They don’t need to give anything up – we can do all the things we do now, but with half the energy consumption.’
Lord Deben pointed out that Unilever was now saving £250m a year by making its buildings more efficient, and highlighted one large energy user that cut its annual electricity bill from £10m to £1.5m by replacing its lighting systems with modern LEDs.