SME Energy Audit Programme
London Borough of Merton

Briar has an excellent reputation for working with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to identify and deliver wide ranging energy, carbon and cost savings that increase SMEs profitability. We have been engaged to manage many energy audit programmes aimed at supporting SMEs and run by organisations including local authorities, universities, chambers of commerce and trade association.

Merton ‘Brighter Business’ Energy Audit Programme

London Borough of Merton is one of England’s leading Local Authorities in promoting environmental sustainability. Following the success of a major energy and water audit programme of over 100 corporate sites, Briar was appointed to support the Council in delivering its Brighter Business programme to identify and quantify cost effective ‘invest to save’ energy, carbon, water and cost saving opportunities within local businesses


The programme was successfully delivered over 24 months and resulted in:

  • The provision of free energy audits and delivery of bespoke energy efficiency reports to 70 local businesses.
  •  Over half of participating businesses installing energy efficiency improvement measures.
  • Almost £65,000 of grant funding and £30,000 of private investment in energy efficiency improvement projects.
  • Potential total annual savings of over £95,000 and 370 tonnes of CO2 across the participating businesses.

Delivered under the Mayor of London’s 2015-2018 LEP programme and shortlisted for the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Environmental Services award 2018, the project engaged with hundreds of local businesses. Working closely with the team at London Borough of Merton, Briar actively followed up and assisted the SMEs to understand the energy efficiency opportunities and value at stake. The project was refreshing due to the ease of access to support and funding, resulting in 50% of the SMEs being actively engaged and investing their own money into carbon reduction projects.
The programme has made a real difference by stimulating interest in energy efficiency amongst SMEs and assisting the local economy through SME investment. Effective management and minimal red tape delivered exceptional results.

"The Brighter Business programme has been a very successful initiative and has enabled the Council to support local businesses in identifying and driving forward energy efficiency measures to deliver real energy, carbon and cost savings."

Damian Hemmings - Climate Change Officer

For more information contact us at or 01384 397777

Energy Procurement
Leigh Academies Trust


Leigh Academies Trust is a leading multi-academy trust based in Strood, Medway. Formed in 2008, the Trust now supports 11,000 students between the ages of 2 and 19 across sixteen primary, secondary and special academies.

The Trust was formed to support schools in building upon their existing strengths and to help them achieve rapid educational transformation. Leigh Academy itself incorporates cutting edge low carbon design and the Trust are keen to minimise their impact on the environment through the adoption of best practice and innovative energy efficiency ideas.

Energy Procurement and Added Value Support

In 2016 Leigh Academies Trust appointed Energy & Environmental Consultants Briar to manage the procurement of their new energy contracts. The aim was to deliver cost savings whilst also rationalising the multiple site contracts into a single contract, including a fully managed bureau service. In addition, unlike their incumbent purchasing consortium, Briar were also able to offer a range of added value services, including detailed energy audits, annual Display Energy Certificates and low carbon M&E design expertise to support Salix funding bids.

leigh academy case study

To date, the procurement programme is set to deliver:

  • An estimated £75,000/year saving on energy costs across the Trust (£225,000 expected over the 3 year contract).
  • An estimated £35,000/year saving on VAT payments.
  • Ongoing negotiations for an estimated £60,000 rebate for incorrect historical payments.
  • Online access to energy and water consumption/cost data, plus management reporting for all (50+) meter points.
  • Energy audits across the portfolio that have identified over 2,000,000 kWh in energy savings, worth £160,000/year.
  • The production of annual Display Energy Certificates across the Trust’s 16 schools.

The success of the procurement programme and subsequent energy audits has prompted a number of sites to appoint Briar to provide further support, including undertaking out of hours surveys to investigate high night-time consumption. This has identified a broad range of additional opportunities that will enable the Trust to reduce energy consumption further. Briar have therefore assisted each academy in identifying areas of waste, thus supporting the Trust’s vision of supporting students through a modern, low carbon learning environment.

Client Comment

“Briar have helped the Trust rationalise our energy procurement which should deliver considerable financial savings. In addition, the energy audit programme has helped us identify energy waste and has been useful in enabling our Business Managers to identify and target effective energy, carbon and cost reduction opportunities across our building portfolio.”

Jack Taylor - Business Controller

Energy, Carbon & Financial Saving
Forensic Bill Investigation


Thorntons have been making chocolates from their Alfreton, Derbyshire factory for over 100 years and are one of the best known and loved British chocolate brands. Thorntons turnover is over £200M per year and they are focused on growing sales, reducing costs and increasing profit. Briar are pleased to be selected to deliver energy cost reduction for Thorntons, working for Rebecca Dilks, Environmental Project Manager.

Forensic Bill Investigation (FBI)

Thorntons have, for many years, managed their energy procurement via an external broker and were keen to assess the opportunity for tariff analyses and the claiming of retrospective rebates where historic errors may have occurred. Briar Forensic Bill Investigation Service (FBI) provided a “no risk” opportunity for retrospective reclaims on the basis of a share of savings on delivery of refunds.

Briar reviewed all aspects of electricity, natural gas and water procurement, producing a schedule of recommendations for agreement, prior to managing the representation and delivery of refunds from current and historic utility suppliers.

The FBI service checks all of the common metering, tariff and procurement errors. It is important to recognise that around 35% of a typical electricity bill is made of third party charges and these are not identified on the bill and can not be checked or challenged without market knowledge.

FBI Results

Whilst there were a number of saving opportunities, the major saving £37,000 emanated from incorrect sub-charges on electricity billing that went back through two previous suppliers. Whilst it took a few months to negotiate and deliver the savings, it is always rewarding to deliver a substantial rebate cheque to the client.

The FBI service does not bring a guarantee of savings, but increasingly we are finding that almost a third of our FBI clients have historic mis-charges.

Briar FBI Summary

  • Knowledge & experience of billing/markets
  • Fully facilitated to minimise client time
  • Comprehensive analyses & oppor-tunity report
  • Management & negotiation of changes/refunds
  • Fees only payable on delivery of savings
  • Majority of clients (60%) see immediate savings opportunities

Energy Saving Project Implementation
Parndorf Designer Outlet

Project Overview

McArthur Glen are Europe’s leading Designer Outlet Retail Group. Their commitment to providing the ultimate customer experience is matched by their commitment to minimising the group’s environmental impact through the adoption of forward thinking energy, carbon and water reduction operations and investment in cutting edge technologies.

Briar have supported McArthur Glen for 9 years in minimising energy costs whilst identifying cost effective energy, carbon and cost saving opportunities across their UK and European Outlets. Recent energy audits and Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) strategies carried out across all 20 Outlets have identified potential group cost savings of over €1,000,000 per year through the implementation of practical, often no cost or low cost energy reduction measures.


Keen to minimise the long-term environmental impact of their Outlets, McArthur Glen are constantly looking for opportunities to reduce energy consumption as this helps reduce carbon emissions and operational costs whilst supporting increased profitability.

The energy audits carried out have identified a wide range of practical, cost effective opportunities that will support the group’s wider ambitions. The installation of AMR (or the utilisation of consumption data from existing smart meters where possible), enables the automatic collection energy con-sumption data every half an hour. This can then be used to produce simple graphs to monitor, compare and target excessive energy consumption more effectively.

The installation of AMR on every fiscal meter is a key strategy as this can then be used to improve energy management and demonstrate savings more clearly. The graph below clearly demonstrates the benefits of both implementing energy savings projects and the use of AMR reporting at the Parndorf Designer Outlet where, following their energy audit, the site management team implemented many of the opportunities identified, resulting in a significant reduction in electricity consumption.

Based on the actual savings achieved to date, it is estimated that annual savings of over 550,000kWh, worth over €60,000 per year will be made on their electricity costs alone, representing a 22% reduction in electricity consumption compared to that used prior to the energy audit. Furthermore, savings are likely to be significantly higher due to the high electricity consumption at the Outlet for air conditioning systems during this summer, plus further savings on gas.

Projects Implemented to achieve the savings

The significant savings at Parndorf have largely been achieved through the implementation of no cost and low cost measures, including:

  • Adjustments to existing heating and cooling control systems (time and temperature)
  • Upgrades to existing automatic heating and cooling controls
  • Reduced lighting operation times
  • LED lighting upgrades
  • Automatic lighting control upgrades
  • Hand-dryer upgrades

The savings have then been proven using AMR data obtained directly from the Outlets existing electricity supplier, as smart meters are already installed at the site and the half-hourly data is therefore available via Briars Online system, for just a small annual charge.

It is also important to note that the implementation of the measures have enabled significant savings to be achieved with no adverse impact on the customer experience. In fact the availability of accurate energy consumption data from an AMR system actually enhances the role of the site Facilities Manager, making it simpler to manage energy and identify inefficiencies, whilst problems such as high overnight consumption or excessive plant operation can quickly identified and quickly resolved.