How to manage energy: Do
Each component of the planning stage is used to develop an in-depth understanding of an organisation’s energy consumption. These components set the groundwork for implementing measures designed to reduce energy consumption. The ‘Do’ stage of the EnMS process includes:
- making changes to processes and behaviours
- the procurement of energy services and products, and
- the installation of new equipment specified in the planning stage.
This stage involves a collective effort from all individuals in the organisation to achieve the targets and objectives laid out in the planning stage and stated in the energy policy and strategy documents. Awareness and competence are important, so this stage may involve setting up training courses for staff members, organising awareness campaigns and encouraging discussions within the workplace. It also requires developing or using existing effective internal communication channels in order to keep everyone informed of the actions taken along with the current status and progress of the project.
Each of the objectives set will naturally be reached at a different time. Having a combination of short- and long-term goals will help staff stay motivated and committed. Putting some ‘quick wins’ in place can help the EnMS gain momentum and encourage more people to get involved.
Actions can be divided into three categories:
- Low- or no-cost – these quick wins include switching off lights when not in use, or identifying poor performance of plant and equipment. These could be identified by an initial energy survey carried out across an organisation.
- Medium-cost – these require minimal cost and little design input, for instance replacing incandescent or old fluorescent lamps with newer higher efficiency lamps.
- High-cost – these require a large amount of investment and design input, for instance a new boiler.
Aspects such as operational costs and the procurement of energy supply, services and assets should be clearly monitored and reported so they can inform decisions. When devising a procurement strategy, an energy manager should adopt a method for estimating the future cost-savings needed to justify investments. Calculating Simple Payback Periods (SPP) and Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) are two of the most common methods.
Preventative maintenance of existing energy intensive equipment, such as air handling units or boilers can improve equipment lifespan, reliability, and energy efficiency. By understanding the energy use of energy-intensive assets, an energy manager can identify opportunities to increase efficiency or upgrade those assets.
For example, LED lighting has considerably lower maintenance costs than conventional lighting, due in part to a longer useful lifetime. However, a lighting upgrade must be evaluated based on the current system costs compared to the costs of installation, operation and maintenance of the proposed new system.
When it comes to purchasing or procuring energy, various risk management techniques are available, such as direct agreements between a utility provider and end-user (known as Power Purchase Agreements or PPAs), or buying energy in advance, when market prices are relatively low or expected to substantially increase in the near future (known as forwards or futures).
Demand response programmes can also reduce energy costs and mitigate risks. The term ‘demand response’ refers to various mechanisms for energy users to reduce their electricity consumption during periods of high, or peak, energy demand or transfer some consumption to off-peak times. These programmes and related financial incentives, for example lower electricity prices during non-peak demand hours, help to ensure the electricity network can cope with high demand.
Ensuring staff engagement
Although technology plays an important role in managing energy and reducing consumption, fundamentally it is people and their behaviours that drive energy demand. As such, effective energy management requires the continuous support of an organisation’s employees.
Getting staff members on board has two main benefits:
- It creates a common sense of purpose and encourages them to take responsibility for solutions; this can lead to more consistent and longer-lasting results.
- The staff members working directly with specific operational areas are more likely to identify potential issues and opportunities in those areas.
In some cases, processes can be automated. Where this is not possible, engaging people to change entrenched energy habits and behaviours can be challenging. Resistance to change has a variety of causes, some of which include:
- lack of understanding of the need for change
- fear of not having the necessary skills/competencies
- reluctance to change the status Quo
- absence of the right motivations or incentives
- a lack communication or consultation, and
- not feeling involved in making change happen.
Effective communication is a primary method for ensuring staff member engagement, and can help minimise the barriers mentioned above. Having communication channels in place between departments can make energy management initiatives more interesting and easier to understand. Staff members are more likely to be engaged when the recommended energy saving actions are communicated at a more personal level, for instance equating energy savings to items with which they identify. An open forum for ideas and suggestions can also be useful for determining where and how energy savings could be focused.
Staff engagement should follow a similar process to technical energy management, prioritising those people with a significant impact on energy use. In this way, approaches can be tailored to individual or group requirements, rather than being a one-size-fits-all approach.
Appointing employees that are considered reliable, knowledgeable and influential as energy management ‘champions’ is one method of successfully engaging staff. To win ‘hearts and minds’ to the energy management cause, training can also help. Many associations offer online energy management training courses specifically designed for employees and many large enterprises have their own in-house courses (see Energy management as a career).
Buy-in from suppliers and partners
Making energy management a core value in business-to-business contracts can help reinforce key objectives and achieve better energy efficiency levels through the entire lifecycle of a product or service.
Those organisations that already effectively manage their energy should feel encouraged and empowered to extend their knowledge to companies in their supply chain, business partners and customers, and also to make energy efficiency a factor in tenders for new business.
Establishing energy efficiency as a key component of business relationships can have an impact far beyond good practice. Procurement is often a major element of an organisation’s capital budgeting, and tendered contracts can become a vehicle for specifying energy efficiency in the products and services purchased. Contractors may also recognise the benefits for their own organisation of increased energy efficiency.