Does tenure of business premises influence UK SMEs’ ability to benefit from energy efficient technologies?

  • Kay Emblen-Perry

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The UK’s historically low cost of energy has encouraged a culture that considers energy to be in limitless supply and excessive levels of consumption acceptable. Now that supplies are becoming restricted and costs rising, it is slowly becoming recognised that this energy culture has created a legacy stock of buildings with poor building fabric, limited energy efficiency equipment and even lower levels of energy awareness.

    Cost effective technologies are readily available but are not being adopted by UK SMEs in non-domestic buildings, as rational economic theory would expect. A gap exists between availability of technically feasible, cost effective energy improvements and what is implemented. Policy-makers attribute this to inaccessibility of information and investment and design policies accordingly. However, as escalation of demand continues an alternative driver of this paradox must exist. This research hypothesises that this driver is the ownership structures of non-domestic buildings.

    To explore this hypothesis anew framework for energy research is adopted; the segmentation of non-domestic buildings based on ownership and the purchase of energy. A survey of members of these segments is undertaken to test this hypothesis.

    This research identifies an energy-efficiency gap caused by building ownership and finds that tenure of business premises prevents the adoption of energy conservation opportunities; 64% of research participants encounter barriers to energy efficiency from building ownership;50% have relationships with owners/tenants that prevent energy improvements being implemented. When this is increased pro rata to reflect the UK population of 4.99 million SMEs it emerges that almost 2.5 million businesses are unable to benefit from financial savings available from energy improvements and around 0.7 million occupy premises in which the owner chooses to have no involvement in energy management. Non-domestic building owners participating in this research consider that energy costs are nota significant issue for their tenants.

    This thesis proposes that an alternative approach to UK energy policy based on regulation and provision of grant funding for energy efficiency improvements could improve the likelihood of SMEs adopting energy efficiency and conservation activities. 75% of research participants highlight legislation as their key driver for change with 70% responding positively to the provision of grant funding for energy improvements. This knowledge of energy behaviours is used to propose the Carbon Allowance Scheme, a simple form of energy rationing based on non-tradable energy quotas, as an alternative framework for energy policy.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorLes Duckers (Supervisor)

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