Demand for ESOS Lead Assessors to outstrip supply

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Strong demand for lead assessors threatens business compliance but provides opportunities for environmental professionals willing to enter a volatile market

Commercial awareness of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) has shown a marked increase since November, but a continuing shortage of approved lead assessors could now pose a serious threat to businesses, according to research commissioned by DECC.

The tracker survey, conducted by IFF Research, found that 89% of businesses had heard of ESOS by June. This is considerably higher than the 56% it reported in November 2014.

The late rush in ESOS audit activity means there are more opportunities for ESOS Lead Assessors, who must carry out or at least sign off on audits.

Lead assessors must be registered with one of 15 Environment Agency approved registries, but the pace of training has so far not kept up with demand, with a total of just 761 registered up to June. Awareness of the need to comply with the first energy efficiency audit deadline of 5 December 2015 was also higher in June, reaching 78%. More than half of businesses (56%) had already taken steps to comply with ESOS. And of those intending to carry out an audit 94% were confident they would meet the deadline.

But with less than three months to go to the 5 December audit compliance deadline, it is a serious concern that almost half of the businesses surveyed have yet to take measures to comply.

Qualifying as an ESOS lead assessor can be rewarding, particularly with growing demand. But this requires considerable prior experience and training, including a qualification in environmental auditing and several years of experience. Workflow may also be erratic after the initial compliance deadline has been met, as firms in the scheme need only carry out audits every four years.

The Environment Agency website carries a complete list of the approved ESOS Lead Assessor registries. Fees vary considerably between registers.

Full results of the ESOS survey, which was carried out in six waves covering 400 businesses, will be published in the autumn.