It’s all about ERIC!

Dan Jackson examines the story behind the latest NHS ‘Estates Return Information Collection’ (ERIC) report and discovers how benchmarking success is proving enlightened for energy managers

The Estates Return Information Collection (ERIC) is the main central data collection for hospital estates and facilities services from the NHS. It’s a resource of valuable data that enables the analysis of Estates & Facilities information from NHS Trusts and PCTs in England.

And the latest annual report, published in October, reports:

  • Total costs covering the running of the NHS Estate was £8.3 billion in 2015/16, a small rise of 0.2% from 2014/15

  • Total Energy usage from all energy sources across the NHS Estate amounted to 11.9 billion kWh, an increase of 3.5% from 2014/15

  • Total capital investment in existing building and equipment has fallen 12.5% from 2014/15


If you haven’t studied the whole report, the numbers above tell much of the story – cutting capital investment across the board due to squeezed budgets and little progress made in cutting energy use, water and waste costs. This shows that Trusts are finding it increasingly hard to make meaningful cost savings without further cutting capital and maintenance budgets.

However, this ‘amalgamated view’ ignores many pockets of success and case studies by some Trusts. So let’s take a look at some of the inspirational work being done by one NHS Trust to reduce their energy use and spend…

At Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, a need for cost reduction and a more energy efficient approach to meeting the Trust’s demands triggered a major review of the Trust’s activities.

Managers were aware that conventional energy generation has a total fuel efficiency of between 50 and 55%, while the total fuel efficiency of CHP is closer to 80% so this made it an attractive option to implement 2 x760 kWe CHP engines in 2014. This reduced their energy cost but they then needed to know that they were maximizing the potential of the CHP engines to make further cost and energy savings.  Additionally the controls for the hospital heating and cooling systems were sub optimal and many areas had poor temperature control leading to over or under heating.

The Trust did not have an energy manager in place, and realised that plans for establishing a strategy for reducing energy had to be approached in an inclusive and professionally structured manner that took advantage of sector benchmarking and up-to-the-minute methodologies. So the Trust decided to investigate and interview specialist consultants in order to appoint a team to join and assign them to act as its energy manager on a contract basis.

The Trust appointed Carbon Architecture due to their experience with advising high-energy users, and with NHS Trusts particularly. We also instructed the team to analyse the CHP system’s potential and present back opportunities in a quantified form that easily allowed business cases for further improvement works to be made.”

SOLUTION: The joint team started with an analysis of the Trust’s current setup and then provided comparatives of where additional efficiency savings could be made, and how the system could be optimised further. The team worked with onsite BMS engineers to analyse heat loads and target areas for improvement. They also worked with the Trust’s operator to improve CHP uptime and heat utilisation.

The optimisation process looked at electrical & heat generation efficiencies and how these utilities were used on site. This showed where improvements could be made – not only to the CHP system but the wider heat use network on site.

SUCCESS: CO2e emissions have dropped by 17% and energy spend is down 35%


“We have also installed and improved heating controls to both reduce energy use and improve patient comfort. This along with updating our plant room equipment has helped maximise the savings delivered by the CHP installation.  Other energy reduction works onsite include making many improvements to the efficiency of heating, air handling, lighting, boiler upgrades, and the addition of variable speed drives. We have also appraised the space we rent out to private health companies to check they were being run correctly.”

Trust Estates departments are being squeezed – they have less money to spend and need to review cutting costs

Trusts are having to cut their spend/services. This highlights the need for cost saving such as analysing Trust FM, energy, water spend and finding ways to reduce costs

Energy use is flat – but use of benchmarking and external advice reveals tried-and-tested methods and successful strategies.

Lack of consistency The NHS uses many different energy management approaches – in house/ outsourced/hybrid/interim. Good ideas are often not reapplied

This article was also published in Tomorrow’s Energy Manager Magazine

Dan Jackson is a Process and Sustainability expert at

About Dan Jackson

Dan Jackson is a process and sustainability consultant. He has experience in helping clients reduce energy and cost in the NHS and across the hospitality supply chain, from breweries to pubs.