Conserving energy is done at home but why not at work? This week, I'll explore the challenges surrounding this issue and with your input, touch upon simple, cost effective solutions.
Over the past month, I've had the opportunity to speak to over 300 manufacturers as part of EMC's Common Sense in Uncommon Times workshops. From London to Toronto, I heard the same thing: "I want to save energy and be environmentally responsible, but my team either doesn't understand the information received, or the financial payback is simply too long."
During my talks we had a number of break-out sessions and we discussed common road-blocks to saving energy. I've listed some of those below. If you have some that are on the list, don't worry, these can be easily overcome.
- Lack of energy knowledge and understanding (information, bills, etc)
- Too busy
- Employee resistance (cultural challenge and lack of accountability)
- Annual energy expenditure is unknown
- Don't know where energy is being used
- Don't have an energy budget
- Energy is not at a strategic level
- Lack of commitment from senior management
- Lack of money & resources
- Seen as a fixed cost
- Long ROI
The Solution - Integrating energy throughout the entire organization
So how do you implement a solution that actually works for more than a week, or a month? Everyone, from senior management to the cleaning staff must be held accountable. Some example solutions include:
- Develop a sustainable energy plan (with input from a wide variety of people and departments) outlining planned actions and estimated savings complete with a mandate from senior management
- Provide incentives to get employee buy-in
- Incorporate energy into each employee's performance metric
- Have a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) for energy (widgets/kwh, tons produced/GJ, etc)
- Develop and measure an energy baseline - if you don't know where you are, how can you calculate your savings!?
- Create an employee awareness program (not just a single-day event!)
- When purchasing equipment, look at the life cycle costs, not just the upfront costs
With the introduction of the Green Energy Act and the harmonization of the GST and PST, energy resources will become relatively more expensive. In the current economic environment, if you wait to enact cost-saving measures six months or a year from now, it could be too late.
I urge each of you to post an energy-specific obstacle you're trying to overcome. Together, we'll come up with a viable solution that can be implemented quickly and with minimal investment.