Data is the Key to Strategic Energy Management

Indigo Teiwes

The New Year is shaping up to be an active one on the commercial energy management front. Ecova’s 2015 Energy and Sustainability Predictions report revealed the top three ambitions of the more than 500 North American energy, sustainability, facility, and finance professionals we surveyed:

1.) NO-COST, LOW-COST EFFICIENCY EFFORTS

The fact that implementing no-cost, low-cost efficiency efforts tops the list is no surprise—it’s where companies can get the biggest bang for their buck. But to execute on these initiatives, organizations need to first identify their best opportunities for savings and then measure their gains. That requires a means of trends analysis and benchmark reporting. Monthly bill data is the foundational source of information required to monitor energy consumption and measure ongoing improvement. As programs evolve and become more sophisticated, organizations are adopting technology capable of a more granular level of data capture and intelligence, such as real time data from energy management systems—which also featured in the survey results. We will have more on that in a minute.

2.) STRATEGIC ENERGY AND SUSTAINABILITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS

The second highest ranking priority is developing and supporting strategic energy and sustainability programs. This may seem like a no brainer, but let’s face it, energy is still a new blip on the radar of many executive teams. Our survey results support an increasing trend commensurate with the rising awareness of the risks and opportunities associated with NOT taking a strategic approach to managing these issues.

Strategic management of energy resources is a data-dependent opportunity. Energy price fluctuation and site-level efficiency variables make procurement strategy —and wise energy use—a significant challenge. Ecova’s Energy Supply Management solutions give organizations the in-depth market analytics and reporting they need to implement the sound energy sourcing and price risk management strategies that drive costs down and certainty up, while strategic consumption (demand) management programs ensure the optimal allocation of operational and capital resources to drive savings. Again, the results show many survey respondents have connected the importance of including energy management systems in their long term plans to achieve program objectives, alongside data analytics, training and engagement programs and OPEX and CAPEX projects. This leads us to the third highest priority cited by respondents:

3.) IDENTIFY AND IMPLEMENT CAPEX EFFICIENCY PROJECTS

Many companies that have been proactively addressing energy management over recent years have already captured much of the low hanging fruit in item #1. It’s time for these companies to move on to capital projects. Clearly capital investments are up, as necessitated by strategic plans that look at opportunities for long-term mitigation of rising utility prices. And the payback is clear. At Arby’s, for instance, implementation of a comprehensive energy management program, including all three priority components highlighted by the survey results, identified more than $5.5 million in potential annual savings and resulted in a 7.6 percent reduction in energy consumption. As the survey results corroborate, investments in energy management systems are part of the solution.

Nearly half of respondents indicate that they expect increased resources this year to support their energy and sustainability initiatives. That’s a great sign for efficiency gains in 2015!

To learn more about energy management savings opportunities for the New Year, watch our recent webinar on our 2015 Energy & Sustainability Priorities and Predictions.

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