A recent article in Distributed Energy contends that if commercial and industrial buildings improved their energy efficiency by just 10%, “they could generate $20 billion in savings.”
The article, Innovations in Energy Management by Carol Brzozowski, goes on to talk about the importance of a corporate mindset shift that’s essential in order for industrial or commercial businesses to achieve consistent, ongoing energy savings, over many years. It discusses the considerable positive impact the latest energy software dashboards can have in supporting an effective energy management program. Cascade Energy’s energy-efficiency platform, SENSEI™, gets big props as a system that’s designed to not merely monitor energy, but to drive action and change behavior. Cascade’s VP, Dan Brown is quoted as saying, “The monitoring of energy use is used to track how you’re performing. But, then you have to find and implement O&M changes, such as get people to close dock doors on a refrigerated dock when they didn’t do that before. Very specific, tangible changes have to be made”—behavior-based changes.
While great strides are being made in the tools we use to support our energy management efforts, (certainly the SENSEI dev team is working hard to add new features every day) those tools really only function as effectively as the people who use them and the corporate structure that supports them.
To be truly effective an overall energy management program must establish a mindset and behavior shift. And, while that program will likely include metering hardware and a software dashboard that would help determine capital or O&M projects, it’s garnering company-wide commitment and collaboration that yields the strongest results.
Creating a foundation for energy management starts with establishing a framework for success–even before you begin taking specific energy-efficiency measures. So, how do you know if your company is ready to embark on energy management? Consider the following questions:
• Do you have executive support?
• Have you set specific goals?
• Have you assigned roles for an energy team or an Energy Champion?
• How will you establish accountability?
• What kind of budget and ROI criteria has been set?
• Are reporting mechanisms in place?
• What awards and affirmations will drive employee engagement?
• How will you handle employees who aren’t “on board” with the program?
Understanding what you’re doing well and what you need to work on will help build a solid foundation for a successful energy management program.
Although every facility is unique and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach, every company should take the time to lay the groundwork. Then, over the course of two-to-five years, the range and timing of program components, tools, dashboards, and projects should be tailored to meet your company’s specific requirements—which could very well turn that 10% savings into 12% to 15%. That’s energy efficiency you’ll not only see recorded in your dashboard reports, but also savings you’ll see on your monthly energy bills.