Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Building renovation or restoration

Building restoration or renovation

Energy efficiency for buildings:

Insulate and prevent heat loss.

This can significantly reduce your energy bills and can be achieved by:

  • Loft insulation or insulation boards below a flat roof
  • Cavity wall insulation or external cladding
  • Double glazing
  • Insulation below floorboards

All are more easily fitted during construction work or during a refurbishment. If you are planning refurbishment or improvements in a listed building, or if you are in a conservation area, certain methods may not be allowed. Check with your local council when you draw up plans.

RES: Simple steps to start saving energy

Northern Ireland Housing executive: Energy saving advice

Carbon Trust: Buildings energy efficiency

Use low energy fittings and appliances.

Most new electrical appliances are now required to have an energy rating - use this to choose A rated or above.

GOV.UK: Energy efficient products

Lights – consider LED lighting and for areas that are not in constant use fit PIR sensors that automatically switch off lights when no-one is around.

Choose low carbon heating.

Select heating that does not involve fossil fuels if possible.

Options include:

  • Electric heating – low carbon if you generate your own electricity or if you buy electricity from a company that sells 100% from renewables.
  • Use solar gain – south facing windows can supply a significant amount of heat to a building
  • Fit solar panels to the roof – either connect to the mains and gain feed in tariffs or connect to batteries to provide constant power
  • Small scale hydro. If you have a suitable location this provides constant power. You may need a licence depending on the site.
  • Ground or air source heat pumps. These need an electricity supply but return around 3 times the energy that they consume.
  • Wind turbines. Location is important but if a suitable site is found this can be very cost effective.
  • Biomass boilers – suitable if a supply of wood fuel can be sourced locally.

Consider a combination of the above technologies.

Get support

You may qualify for support for energy efficiency measures:

From Resource Efficient Scotland

RES: SME Loan Fund

In Northern Ireland from the carbon Trust

Carbon Trust: Energy Efficiency Loan Fund

If you are a business then you can use the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme which allows you to offset the cost of energy efficient equipment against tax. The scheme only applies to equipment that has been approved and shown to be low energy.

GOV.UK: Enhanced Capital Allowances – How to apply

GOV.UK: Energy Technology List for ECA



Saving money

The only way to gauge the true cost of your water use is by analysing it systematically. You should:

  • study your water bills - do this over the previous two or three years noting the annual consumption and cost
  • identify any trends or patterns - you may be able to pick out seasonal variations
  • involve your staff, eg you could get them to complete a water use survey
  • produce a water balance - this is a numerical account of where water enters and leaves your business and where it is used
  • carry out a benchmarking exercise and compare your water use to other similar organisations or businesses


Wrap Northern Ireland: Tracking water use to cut costs

Zero Waste Scotland has produced a series of free, online training modules for SMEs. The training will help develop the skills and knowledge needed to put in place effective resource efficiency measures in your organisation. They deal with energy, waste and water efficiency. You can work through them at your own speed, choosing the modules that are relevant to your business.

ZWS: Green Champions Training

For businesses, the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme enables you to deduct the whole cost of your investment in water-saving technologies and products from your profits in the tax year that you make the purchase. The scheme is available to businesses that pay UK corporation tax or income tax, and that have enough profits for the allowance to be written off against.

You can claim the allowance when you buy any of the products that appear on the water technology list (WTL). The WTL includes water efficient products from taps to industrial cleaning and leak detection equipment.

GOV.UK: Enhanced Capital Allowances – How to apply

GOV.UK: Water Technology Product List for ECA


Reducing your environmental impacts

Customers, whether businesses or the public, are increasingly environmentally conscious. They demand that they do businesses, or interact, with others who use natural resources sustainably.

Demonstrating your water efficiency can help you attract and retain customers and employees. You can also create interest from funding bodies, stakeholders and the media by showing that your organisation is well managed.


Construction materials and fixtures

When designing building works, or refurbishment of buildings or premises you should:

Source materials locally

This will reduce the impact of transporting materials for long distances, and will benefit local businesses and the local economy.

Use recycled materials in place of virgin material

Re-using materials avoids all the environmental impacts of new manufacture. Recycled materials can replace virgin materials without any problems, but have the added benefit of being less expensive.

You can search for surplus materials in your area, including bricks, concrete, aggregate, glass, paint pallets, pipes, slates, tiles, soil and wood.

Resource Efficient Scotland; Construction Material Exchange

NIBusinessInfo: Incorporating recycled materials into construction projects

Recycled materials are often sold locally on sites like Gumtree.

Incorporate materials with high recycled content.

Many materials and components are now manufactured using recycled content. Try to go for recycled products made from renewable resources. These include concrete that uses fly ash aggregate (PFA), carpets made from recycled plastic bottles, insulation made from recycled paper and paints that contain post-consumer returns.

NI BusinessInfo: Incorporating recycled content in construction projects

WRAP: Delivering higher recycled content in construction projects

RES: Construction sustainable procurement guide

Choose materials that are low in embodied energy

Products that are produced using less energy include timber, lime mortar (lower embodied energy than cement), slate, stone, and a variety of unfired earth materials such as cob and rammed earth.

The building research establishment (BRE) has produced a guide that rates the amount of energy used to produce each material.

BRE 'green guide' to the environmental impacts of building materials

Listed buildings

NetRegs does not provide detailed guidance on planning issues. If you intend to renovate, alter, demolish or do any work on a building which might be listed then you should contact the planning department of your local council.

Find your local council

Information on listed buildings, including repair grants, is available from the following sources:

NI Dept for Communities

Historic Scotland

SEE ALSO: Energy efficiency, Water efficiency

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