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How we help a supermarket cut their energy bills

– City saves the customer around £7m per year in energy costs

– We’ve reduced energy use by 34.5% since 2010

– We’ve achieved a 67% reduction in carbon emissions (carbon dioxide equivalent C02e/sqft)

– In 2019, the customer reduced their carbon emissions by 9.4% compared to 2018, mainly through using less energy, lower refrigeration gas emissions and UK grid decarbonisation


With 633 stores, as well as fuel station forecourts, offices and a network of warehouses, this supermarket retailer uses around 0.3% of the UK’s total energy consumption. And with big energy spend, comes huge potential for cost savings and carbon reduction.

City has been this retailer’s facilities management partner since 1999 and managed their energy since 2010. In that time, we’ve saved the company around £70m and supported them to manage more than £150m spend on innovation.

We support in two main areas: the day-to-day management of cost, and facilitating longer-term savings. City does this through two interlinked functions of our Energy Bureau.



Day-to-day cost management

Remote asset monitoring, fault diagnosis and fixing

Through remote, Internet of Things connectivity that links energy meters and building management systems, City can monitor around 100,000 assets located across the UK from our Bureau in Glasgow. An alarm is triggered if a site’s electricity or gas usage rises above pre-set thresholds. We can then pinpoint individual assets and investigate and adjust remotely. If the asset needs to be looked at on site, we’re on the case.

This complete service, bringing the energy usage back to (or even below) the base level, provides £3.5m/pa benefit to the customer in avoided costs. Being able to drill down to individual asset level also informs lifecycle costing.

Water management

There are water sub-meters in around 90% of the customer’s estate. City monitors usage against thresholds, investigating anomalies and potential leaks. This is particularly valuable in instances where a large volume of water is being quickly discharged directly into a drain. Whilst our plumbers and technicians can locate and repair internal issues, we are quickly able to deploy specialist underground leak detection support partners to minimise water loss.

Finding the right balance to use resources sensibly

Working with the customer we agree performance specifications for heating, cooling, and lighting. Within these specifications we operate as efficiently as possible. An example of this is setting and enforcing temperature ‘dead bands’ between the times and temperatures when a store is heated and cooled. This achieves the maximum benefit from all energy used. We take weather forecasting and other external factors into account during day-to-day planning. This will save more than £1m next year.

Demand-side management (DSM): supporting the National Grid and reducing load and spend during peak periods

Being able to remotely access 50,000 fridge and freezer assets, which altogether use approximately 25MW of power, means within seconds, we can safely turn these assets off for short periods, creating a thermal battery with enough electricity to power a city the size of York. This has two financial benefits:

– Reducing the customer’s electricity spend during peak periods

– Income from the National Grid (NG), through direct NG contracts and by tapping into markets such as the Frequency Response, Capacity Market or Balancing Mechanisms

Currently, DSM is saving the customer around £150k per month. Our expertise in this field has been recognised by City’s inclusion in the EU’s ENOUGH programme, which seeks to develop and share best practice to support decarbonisation of the cold chain from farm to fork.

Facilitating longer-term savings and protecting future spend

Reporting to fulfil legal responsibilities

By handling reporting, the Energy Bureau helps the customer to confidently navigate reporting on:

– Scope 1 – the energy used directly, e.g. in heating and lighting stores and cooling refrigeration cases, and in driving the HGV fleet.

– Scope 2 – indirect, which covers the energy used to produce the energy used in store and the fleet.

– Some of Scope 3 – which can cover everything from employee commuting and energy used in waste management, to fuel used when customers cook produce bought in store.

The added benefit of accurate reporting is being able to track reductions against baseline, and clearly articulate progress against net zero ambitions.

Utility budget planning, monitoring and measurement 

Working with the customer’s finance team, we plan the utilities budget and present this for board approval. The budget takes into account the benefit of previous investment in energy efficiency measures, and assets with lower running costs. The Energy Bureau reports the performance against the utility plan, again working with the finance team.

With the customer at every step

The Energy Bureau continually recommends ways to reduce energy and water use, to manage and influence step changes in the overall cost of utilities.  This could be changes in operation, adoption of new technologies or a different process or tariff, which reduces the cost of utilities.

The Bureau has created a digital twin of the customer’s portfolio where we can test scenarios and specification changes. This allows the customer to make informed decisions on HVAC, lighting, and refrigeration control settings.

Example Bakery: In 2021, the retailer embarked on changes to their in-store bakery, moving to a central production hub model with products baked off in store. To help inform this decision, we created various scenarios in the digital twin portfolio to model the reduction in energy consumption from removing in-store production facilities and reducing the need for in-store ovens. This data was combined with asset lifecycle costing data to help provide a full picture of the cost of providing a scratch bakery service and allow comparisons with other options. We’re now switching off the company’s multideck ovens, which are switched on and off at a central point and have previously been on 24/7 (with temperature adjusted locally as required). This move will save £2m in energy costs, per year, by the end of the project.


Tony Parkinson, Asset Management Director


To learn more about how City’s market-leading energy management solutions can transform your business, contact