How to Accelerate The Transition to Net Zero Across The Built Environment
Globally Net Zero emission reduction targets are increasingly common with both the public and private sectors committing to targets. ESG (Environmental Social Governance), once a nice to have, is now considered a board imperative. The global discourse has shifted from what can be done to how do it across all sectors of the economy.
This megatrend has seen the creation a net zero sector spanning from finance to engineering, IT to agriculture and beyond. However, the path to Net Zero is not always straight forward and organisations are now having to manage new challenges associated with decarbonisation. Companies providing energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reduction solutions are poised to reap the benefits.
Australian owned and operated 3E Group (formerly Ecosave) is one such company helping customers navigate complexity. Founded in 2002, as an Energy Services Company, Ecosave specialised in commercial and public energy efficiency lighting retrofits. Growing rapidly from its Western Sydney base they evolved their service offering to encompass energy audits, a suite of energy efficiency retrofits and ongoing verification of the guaranteed energy savings. A respected organisation with a national footprint Ecosave was also a founding member of the Energy Efficiency Council.
Fast forward more than 20 years to today and Ecosave, now 3E Group is providing end-to-end net zero services for their clients. Building on the solutions that helped them establish their business they have expanded to include an advisory team and continue to evolve solution offerings in line with current best practice.
Current offerings include net zero roadmaps, heat pump design and installation, degasification projects, power quality solutions and optimised building automation alongside energy audits and more traditional efficiency measures. Strategic acquisition and integration of CarbonetiX and Total Power Solutions has supported the company’s growth.”
3E Group has collected multiple awards along the way including Telstra Sustainability award in 2022. A key strength of 3E Group is the ability to manage complex programs of work across several sites and integrate multiple technology solutions to deliver value for their clients.
A significant turning point for the organisation came in September 2022, following a capital injection from investors, Palisade Impact and John Clifford. The synergies between the investors and 3E Group are clear with a strong focus on decarbonisation and impact.
Palisade Impact is the ESG fund for infrastructure asset investor Palisade Investment Partners. They hold more than $3.3B in Australian Infrastructure investments and are Australia’s third largest renewable energy investor. Palisade Impact has a focus on unlisted investments in solutions targeting environment & social challenges with risk adjusted returns.
CEO of Palisade Impact, Steve Gross explains the rationale behind the investment in 3E Group. “We look to invest in high-growth markets and infrastructure-like businesses that are delivering essential services of the future and create positive impact for people and planet. “, says Gross.
John Clifford, a seasoned cleantech investor, is the second substantial investor. He has a proven record in value creation across a range of energy related industries. John is the Chair of the newly formed 3E Group board of directors. He holds other board roles at companies that help achieve net zero emissions including Virescent Ventures, Relectrify, Gridcognition and the HRL Technology Group.
John Clifford says he is “thrilled with the opportunity to provide the management team with the resources needed to scale for growth and to help as many organisations as possible achieve their net zero ambitions.”
The meaning behind ‘3E’ is based on three pillars of our core expertise Energy, Emissions Reduction and Efficiency and how we integrate various solutions to maximise energy efficiency and reduce emissions in pursuit of achieving our clients’ sustainability targets.”
– says Robin Archibald, Group Managing Director.
3E Group follow a simple guiding set of principals when it comes to decarbonisation for clients.
1. Reduce energy usage onsite through energy efficiency
2. Reduce onsite emissions through onsite generation
3. Procure remaining energy from renewable sources
4. Offset only the remaining emissions
This is in line with Science Based Targets Initiatives (SBTI) approach to decarbonisation.
The change of company name and rebranding to 3E Group was a strategic move as the organisation initiates long-held plans to scale for growth in line with investor appetite to support Australia’s transition to a decarbonised economy. With almost 50% of ASX listed companies, local subsidiaries of multinationals and the majority of governments across Australia implementing Net Zero targets there is certainly no shortage of opportunities in market.
Challenges still remain – especiall with capital and skills
However, challenges remain with access to capital for net zero solutions often competing against core business projects. In parallel, a shortage of skilled professionals who can deliver net zero solutions companies are often grappling with how to deliver against emission reduction targets.
Leveraging 3E Groups track record of program delivery and the investment expertise of Palisade Impact 3E Group have established an Energy as a Service (EaaS) division to provide financed solutions to the market to accelerate the transition to Net Zero. EaaS provides more than just finance it enables the exploration of solutions beyond the building envelope such as demand management, EV charging, precinct wide solutions and moves beyond energy to encompass waste, water and IoT solutions. Partnering over a longer timeframe and integrating several solutions together enables the design and delivery of leading-edge solutions.
The division is led by Tolga Dagli, who along with his team brings a wealth of experience across multiple sectors and geographies to the Australian market.
ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) recently published a report that they commissioned Accenture to complete highlighting the benefits of EaaS. With ARENA’s scope expansion including energy efficiency there is no doubt that Australia’s demand side management is set to revolutionise.
Playing with the full box and dice
With its new identity, 3E Group is positioning itself at the heart of the net zero revolution and sustainability trajectory in and around the built environment, offering comprehensive net zero solutions.
Our role as a master integrator is to develop bespoke solutions and services aligned to our customers’ needs and overall ambitions are and coming up with a package of solutions. And those solutions are important to combine, because you often get more value when you combine them all together. And you can see them as an ecosystem, rather than doing them all individually.”
– says Kieran Booth Head of Development Services.
A lifecycle lens is the key, he says. It starts with assessing where an organisation is right now, then undertaking design, sticking with the project through implementation, managing the outcome and potentially having an ownership stake in any relevant assets through a longer-term agreement that reverts ownership to the client at the end.
The most important place to start is with transparency, Booth says. That means a picture of where an organisation is right now, what options are available and what numbers are involved in pursuing any given course of action.
Booth says that because 3E Group is “agnostic” in terms of which technology it uses they are able to form partnerships with right technology partners to support delivery of the optimum solution for each context whilst continuing to deliver value to clients.
“The flexibility of multiple delivery models means that we can ensure the right fit for each client.”
What the customers of this new industry want is emissions reductions, but they want to achieve them “in an economic way and to cause the least disruption to their existing operations as possible or to avoid introducing risk”.
Booth says “some organisations are not prepared to take on debt or liabilities on their balance sheet to fund their net zero goals, while those that are, may lack the in-house resources and expertise to successfully transition to net zero and that’s where we can help”
“When our customers partner with us, they are engaging experts whose core focus is to help them accelerate their transition to net zero fulfillment.” Booth says.
According to Booth, energy as a service removes the barriers of funding and access to expertise.
Incentives to outperform are built in
“An EaaS agreement also has built in incentives for EaaS provider 3E Group to overachieve on savings guaranteed in the contract, with 50/50 split of surplus savings shared between us and the customer” says Booth.
It is like the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model of build, own and operate, which is familiar territory in social infrastructure sectors including transport, hospitals and schools. It also aligns well with the kind of clients they are working with including hospitals, aged care, universities, commercial buildings, hotels, schools and universities – the long-term owner assets where the capex/opex equations are not only about the coming quarter.
3E Group’s continues to grow with Booth saying expansion means they are recruiting net zero professionals as well as people who can translate existing skills and experience across the integrated net zero service model. Electrical and mechanical engineering, alongside digital technology experts to deliver leading edge Internet of Things and energy demand management solutions are all key.
The business also aims to practice what it promotes by undertaking its own process of carbon neutral certification, with 2023 as the target year for obtaining the status.