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One of the biggest problems for businesses looking to increase their energy efficiency is the large, upfront spend initiatives can require. Typically, these focus on projects such as large-scale building refurbishments or replacing equipment across the board.
A new report from the sustainability consultancy Verisae, entitled Ten Ways to Slash Energy Cost & Reduce Budget Uncertainty, has highlighted several techniques companies can implement without making a large capital commitment.
Although the report is focused upon the retail sector and North American grocery stores in particular, its discussion of low-cost solutions is useful for any business with one or more moderately sized premises.
The report also contains ten key strategies a company can use to improve its energy efficiency in day to day operations. These cover the following areas:
Metering and monitoring
Many companies rely upon having a single meter for each of their premises. This can be too blunt an instrument with which to measure energy consumption, and these meters don’t give any insight into what energy is being consumed when and by what.
To gain this understanding, businesses ought to consider installing submeters in their premises. These will help identify the relative consumption of different aspects of the business, for example, by lighting, kitchen use or IT.
Businesses can also benefit from installing real-time energy monitoring. This will help the company discover spikes in usage which may not otherwise be identified.
Peak consumption planning
Energy consumption can vary dramatically at different times of the day and different times of the year. For example, heating usage will vary throughout the year, while kitchen-energy consumption will peak in the middle of each day.
As smart metering and real-time energy buying is introduced, identifying these peaks and implementing strategies to overcome them will become a key part of a business’s strategy. Such strategies can include changing business processes or storing cheap electricity onsite, both of which will improve a company’s overall energy efficiency.
A lot of facilities energy saving initiatives revolve around the installation of efficient heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting systems. While these can deliver good long-term savings, it is just as important to keep on top of the maintenance of existing systems to ensure they are running as efficiently as possible.
It is, therefore, especially important for businesses to monitor these systems’ consumption and identify when usage starts to climb. This can indicate whether a service has increased energy efficiency or can point to fundamental problems.
As well as focusing upon the energy consumed by different parts of the business at different times, it is also important to take a long-term view and establish a mechanism for comparing energy consumption data every day, week, month and year. This will help to identify long-term trends and indicate equipment or business processes which are either failing to meet – or outperforming – their expected energy efficiency.
Benchmarks and best practice
A final way multi-site companies can produce energy efficiencies is through introducing a companywide system of benchmarks. Often similar equipment or business processes in different locations can perform with different energy efficiency, depending upon a variety of factors. Once benchmarks have been established, further analysis can be used to produce identify variations and produce companywide standards and best practices.
“It is clear that companies should take a holistic view of their energy strategy,” said Hugh Jones, managing director of Carbon Trust Advisory Services. “Capital investment can deliver a positive return on investment, but there are numerous energy efficiency options for organisations to consider which do not require significant capital outlay up-front.
“For example, Sainsbury’s appointed an energy champion in each of its stores to encourage best practice amongst other staff, promote good facilities management and highlight how the store is doing in comparison with other outlets. This simple measure helped bring about a 5% saving on energy consumption across the group.”
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