I’m concerned about increasing energy prices. What can we do to cut these costs without interrupting business and do we have any legal obligations to save energy?

Energy prices are guaranteed to rise in the coming year, so retailers have to take action to drive down usage by 10% to 20% in order to stand still. The key is to take control of energy usage in the first place. Ivan McKeever, director at wireless building energy management company WEMSinternational, says a typical retailer will spend between £10m and £40m each year on energy. This can probably be reduced, though.

Government reports suggest that by 2017 there will be power cuts of around 3,000 megawatt hours per year because of dwindling resources. “Currently, 80% of all UK buildings have no energy management systems in place,” says McKeever. In essence, heating, ventilating and air conditioning units are being switched on and left to run without any strategy in place to monitor, measure and control when and why they’re being used.

“It’s essential retailers strike a balance between creating optimum store conditions and controlling energy usage across each location by accessing instant live reports on the estate’s performance.”

Andrew Piatt, head of planning at law firm Gateley, adds that planning law indirectly imposes obligations as policy dictates that new developments must have high levels of energy efficiency. “Local authorities also enforce policies that state new properties must use a certain proportion of non-fossil fuel methods to provide a building’s energy, so many businesses will be forced to look at alternative energy supplies.” He points out that it can also be very costly for companies that do not take action to reduce their energy use because of the introduction of the Carbon Reduction Commitment – essentially a tax on businesses with energy bills of over £1m per year.