Strategic energy management is about maximizing energy efficiency through upfront commitment and persistence over time. Therefore, you must establish a framework to measure success of an energy management plan with clearly defined targets that are communicated to all stakeholders continuously.
Currently, less than half of Fortune 500 companies have explicit energy goals in the form of greenhouse gas emissions target, a broader energy efficiency target, or a combination of the two. But as more companies begin to realize how effectively energy management can help achieve core business goals, the more companies will be forced to join these leading edge brands to manage their own energy needs better.
Whether you have yet to set your own corporate energy goals or want a more strategic way to make these energy facts and goals work for you, the following steps can lead the way.
Step 1: Define a Type of Target
Setting a goal is a broad ask. To narrow the focus, start by choosing what type of goal makes the most sense for your company. If you are drawn towards energy management sheerly for cost cutting reasons, the type of goal you set will be different from a company that is after an improved corporate image or who is under regulatory pressures. Some types of goals to consider include:
- % of renewable energy used
- overall energy efficiency
- greenhouse gas emissions
- energy cost expenditure
Step 2: Measure/Benchmark
To find a goal that makes sense, you have to start with your current status. That means taking meaningful measurements of where you are in regards to the type of goal you want to set. This may mean giving energy bills a close read for energy use, or using more sophisticated measurement tactics to determine efficiency or emissions.
Benchmarking can also be a useful exercise here, allowing you know where others in your industry stand so that you can set your goal competitively.
Step 3: Determine a Time Frame
Having a specific deadline for reaching your energy goal is essential. The time frame you choose will also influence how ambitious your goal can be, since more time means a longer span for changes to take hold. However, longer time frames do mean that consistent progress reports will be important to ensure that your strategy is working as intended.
Step 4: Set a Goal
With the data gathered in steps 1 through 3, you should have a much clearer picture of what types of goals will be both reasonable and impactful. It is time to create that goal. Energy management goals require buy in from many different departments and individuals, so this goal needs to be widely known so that you can start creating the plan that will lead you towards your target.
Step 5: Measure Incrementally
It is a mistake to set a goal and never assess your progress until your time is up. Rather, incremental measurements should be an integral part of your energy management plan. That way, you will be able to see where your new strategies and investments are working and where they are not.
In energy - and in virtually every other aspect of business - goal setting is absolutely essential. It is easy to say that energy management or sustainability is "important" but it is much more difficult to set goals and enact plans that actually back up that claim while producing positive results on a continuous basis.