Name: Mike Lindlahr, Senior Energy Consultant
What are the typical daily duties for a Non-Domestic Energy Consultant?
Where do I begin? My wife always describes my job to her friends in this way. “He is s an Energy Assessor and drives to site to take photographs of lightbulbs, radiators, heating systems, windows etc. and then he makes fancy drawings of the buildings. When he gets back to the office, he does some pretty colouring before he spends hours in front of the computer to input his measurements into the software.” Well, roughly that sums it up – but there is a little bit more that needs to be added to remain professional for individuals wishing to pursue a career in this sector….
As an Energy Consultant, I consult with Clients – mainly Landlords and Contractors – on how the energy performance of their non-domestic buildings can be improved. To be able to achieve this, I need to have a good understanding of the full energy usage and building complexity which I gain from the survey.
On-site I identify the various heating /cooling systems, hot water systems, lighting, extract fans and renewable energies on-site. In addition, I measure the building up, including windows, doors, roof-lights and roller shutters. When I am back in the office, I zone each area of the building into their different categories using different shades of colour, which helps me directly identify each zone later on. Each different zone then gets in-putted into the software, together with their appropriate energy demand deriving from set guidelines. Once the entire building-envelope, together with their lighting and heating/cooling systems, has been entered into the software, I am then able to calculate the initial EPC rating.
I feedback the EPC rating back to the client and in most cases I get asked to provide recommendations on how to make cost-effective improvements. I use a similar metrology as before, however with alternative lighting, heating/cooling systems, insulations & renewable energies to be able to produce a recommendations report. We produce an improvement matrix which includes various cost effective and necessary options to improve the EPC rating – which we then pass onto Clients for their considerations. In most cases, we aim to achieve a B – rated EPC with cost effective improvements which makes the EPC “future-proof”.
Further to the above, I provide Display Energy Certificates (DEC’s) which are different to an EPC. A DEC looks at the actual incurred energy consumption over a 12-month period, therefore I require 365-days of energy data for the assessed building, in forms of invoices or actual meter readings.
After receiving the initial energy data, I then arrange access to survey the building – which is not as in-depth as the EPC survey – however, I still need to physically survey the building in question and take some photographs and on-site measurements.
In addition to EPCs, MEES recommendation reports and DEC’s, I tend to work on ESOS and Carbon Assessment reports – which are a whole different thing. However, all my work involves Energy Assessments, crunching numbers, report writing and providing recommendations to clients on how they can improve their energy consumptions and reduce their carbon emissions.
What are the most challenging aspects of this role?
Sometimes it is challenging to find the exact heating/cooling specifications, including fan-powers. This then makes it difficult to properly assess the actual building’s energy performance as I do not have the specific efficiencies. This can greatly impact the energy performance rating because as after the Governmental guidelines, we must assume the worst case scenario and use given default values. Sometimes the client or the maintenance team can provide relevant manufactures details, which then improves the EPC rating. Bearing this in mind, it is important to have accurate data for the building including its heating/cooling and other components.
Can you provide examples of what kind of mistakes you most commonly come across?
Most commonly, the existing EPC for the building does not match the actual building. This can be due to the building occupier having altered the inside of the building, added new heating/cooling systems, changed the lighting etc. without notifying their Landlord. Sometimes this turns out to be improving the actual EPC rating following my inspection and updating the register, however this can backfire and make the EPC worse. For example should the tenant install a heating system in a poorly insulated warehouse this would decrease the EPC rating. I think it is vital for landlords to be aware of any changes their tenants perform to their buildings as this could greatly impact the energy performance of the building and make the building un-lettable.
How do you ensure that you are adding value?
By undertaking an in-depth Energy Assessment of the building, I can advise clients and/or their Tenants and Contractors on how their occupied buildings can improve their energy consumption. “Yes” EPCs and other Energy Assessments that I undertake sometimes can be seen as a “tick-box” exercise for some Clients so that they can let & sell their buildings. However, in most cases, Clients are vigilant about their building’s performance and related energy consumption. With climate change and global warming being a hot-topic and the UK’s commitment to become net-zero-carbon within the next 30 years (by 2050), I see my role and the work I do vital as I contribute indirectly to the reduction on Carbon Emissions in the UK and to increase the lettable value of buildings.
What do you enjoy most about this role?
I always promised myself that my job would not be 100% office bound as life is too short. I believe that I manage to get a good work balance which consists roughly of half the time in the office and the other half being on site conducting surveys. Furthermore, each building is different. I survey large/small offices, retail properties from large supermarkets to small corner shops, to large distribution centers and warehouses as well hotels, nursing homes and student accommodations – my work does not get boring.
I have always wanted to contribute towards helping the environment, which I think was embedded by my father’s influence. Now being a father myself, I want to make sure that my child (and future generations) live in an environmentally conscious and sustainable world. Off course I won’t be able to single handedly save the planet, however I am not the only Energy and Carbon Consultant out there and luckily most people are realising that a change is needed to limit global warming.