Energy management programs are not one-size-fits-all. Ben Taylor, Senior Manager of Energy Water Advising at ENGIE Impact discusses why understanding your specific resource consumption pattern is foundational to building an energy management program that meets the unique energy needs of an organization.
Energy management programs are foundational to an organization’s sustainability strategy. They encompass the management of energy, water, waste, and carbon that an organization uses across its entire portfolio. No two organizations have the same footprint or energy needs, even within the same industry. That’s why it’s important to build a clear picture of what is going on with your resources at the site level so you can develop a program that meets the organization's needs as a whole. Having a tailored program will help increase energy efficiency, drive down costs and allow for scaling as the organization grows.
There are many steps involved in building an effective sustainability strategy. And while some organizations want to jump into large decarbonization projects, taking the time to understand their current state of resource use, while less exciting, is the best place to start. The initial phase can include an evaluation of energy bill data, energy mix review, materiality assessment, or a number of other data points that will help build a clear picture of an organization's starting point. In addition, an organization should be asking themselves the right questions: What is our current sustainability strategy doing? What about our strategy needs to change? How do we make that change happen? Gathering this information can be complex and time-consuming, especially for multi-site organizations, but having it on hand will make the planning and development phase a much smoother process.
A materiality assessment helps organizations condense a number of environmental and social governance (ESG) factors into one view that provides insight into how those factors could potentially impact the business. This can help organizations understand what is important to address when they begin the sustainability reporting process.
Addressing resource use and energy management can look different from one organization to the next, but there is a standard approach for tackling low-hanging fruit that applies to most cases. First, focus on reducing consumption. And second, work on offsetting what remains. Following this formula is a great tool to start out with, regardless of what energy resource you are focusing on. In addition, organizations like ENERGY STAR® provide industry-standard products and practices across a variety of energy sources and can be a helpful resource when starting out. Once you have implemented the basics, the next step is to move past general best practices and identify more specialized opportunities for your energy management program. Working with a sustainability consultant at each phase of this journey can help you maximize the tools available to your organization.
Even though the fundamentals of energy management have stayed steady over the past few years, how companies utilize them to fit their specific needs continues to be an area of growth and development. Better insight into sight level consumption and cleaner data have contributed to a refinement in how we build energy management programs.
As the spotlight on sustainability strategies continues to brighten, organizations will need to invest in a tailored energy management program and keep in mind that it is a foundational piece of achieving organization-wide sustainability goals.
Reach out to our energy management experts to discuss your strategy.