At one time, corporate executives considered environmental concerns secondary to—or even a deterrent to! —running a profitable business. Not anymore. Most firms recognise that economic success is intertwined with environmental responsibility, and nowhere is this more evident than in energy use. Reducing energy use is “green” for both the environment and business. Fortunately, there are many ways to cut energy costs in business facilities. Efficiency strategies can be leveraged to schedule appropriate use of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment or best maximise the consumption of energy. The facility itself can be improved; integrated building management systems can be utilised to limit the loss of energy and conserve electricity. Reducing energy use, as well as energy loss due to leakage and waste, can significantly reduce the cost of running a facility.
Knowing the bottom-line impact is one thing; having the information needed to manage energy costs is something else. In many companies, the capability to evaluate and utilise energy information may not exist. Often when energy data is available, it is not presented in a way that enables business leaders to make improvements that can deliver an acceptable return on investment. This combination of factors—the economic importance of energy and the lack of actionable information—leads many companies to partner with an energy management specialist to help identify, evaluate, and act on key energy initiatives. Such a partnership can not only bring tangible economic benefits, but many intangible benefits as well, such as proof of reached corporate social responsibility goals and enhanced market perception.
The key to energy management is, of course, actionable measures based on real information. But top-level energy metrics are the culmination of daily operations and many decisions made by people, processes, and technology. By the time a top-level issue is recognised, it can already be costly. What strategies deliver the information to act before a problem develops? In practice, a combination of methods will produce the information to assess and control an active improvement without becoming overly expensive. As long as the measurements are taken on a regular basis, they will show trends over time, method will indicate how a program is performing but doesn’t usually deliver information about which individual measures are still working. It shows overall performance of large projects or those with interrelated improvements; however, it won’t show what other effects are occurring, an example being how energy use affects productivity.
Goals and benefits:
Energy cost savings: generally 5% of the original energy expenses, according to The Carbon Trust. Carbon Trust has conducted a study over 1000 small businesses and has concluded that on average an organization could save 5%.
Reduction in GHG emissions: lower energy consumption helps reduce emissions
Financing: measured energy reductions help obtain grants for energy efficiency projects
Improved product and service costing: sub-metering allows the division of the energy bill between the different processes of an industry, and can be calculated as a production cost
Improved budgeting: M&T techniques can help forecast energy expenses in the case of changes in the business, for example
Waste avoidance: helps diagnose energy waste in any process.