• Kieran Murphy

Primus Inter Pares

Global warming? We're all in it together... but the property sector should be driving change

The architects of Ireland's National Smart Metering Programme (NSMP) have clearly learned from the failures of the earlier UK plan. While the Irish version is slated to provide the country's energy users with "greater control over their energy consumption", it doesn't make the explicit promises of savings which have caused such problems for smart meter installers across the water, and it makes some effort to sketch out the overall goals which are driving the scheme.

However, although there can be few businesses or consumers who don't have some response to the stated objectives of delivering a "smart grid" and a "low-carbon economy", the precise role which smart metering is to play on the journey towards those laudable objectives isn't spelled out. The individuals and businesses concerned are expected to work out their place in the bigger picture for themselves.

Global warming puts all of us in the same boat. But if your business is in the property sector, you can help steer the vessel. For reasons we'll explain shortly, your business is 'first among equals'.

Before we get to that, let's set out that bigger picture as concisely as possible.

Today's grid is, uh... un-smart. It was built with the working assumption that power generation would be the responsibility of a single company or group of companies, and that the resources used to deliver it would be centralized and easily controllable.

The smart grid will decentralize power generation through the deployment of a patchwork of local and neighbourhood resources: rooftop solar PV arrays; block-scale methane digesters; district windfarms...

Decentralization will make load balancing -- maintaining a steady supply of power -- a much more complex and demanding operation than it is today. Local, automated processes, termed demand side management, will need to use every scrap of data available to keep the mains steady at 240V.

The upshot of all this is: if we want a smart grid, we need smart meters.

Shifting to a smart grid will require businesses to open up about their own usage of power, and that of the companies with whom they trade. The Green House Gas Protocol group, who pretty much wrote the book on decarbonizing the economy, call for "sectors to develop guidance through an inclusive multi-stakeholder process... [to] drive more consistent corporate GHG measurement, reporting, and performance tracking practices."

But, regardless of good intentions, businesses the world over are finding this so-called "Scope 3 reporting" difficult and demanding. How exactly is the average stationer or foundry to keep tabs on the GHG emissions of its customers?

Here's where the property sector can step up. We're unique in the close focus we maintain on our customers' energy footprints. In fact, we had sound commercial reasons to make the switch to smart metering long before the publication of the Climate Action Bill. Scope 3 reporting is a natural extension of our existing work practices... and we can set a clear lead for other sectors.

If you're in the property sector and you want to help decarbonize Ireland's economy, you know what to do.

Meter icons by Komkrit Noenpoempisut, ProSymbols, Wichai Wi from The Noun Project.

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