One can’t get a highly sought after medal for completing the Two Oceans marathon by wishing you had one and watching the race on television.
Now let’s face the difficult questions:
- What does energy efficiency mean to you?
- Where does it score on your priority meter and what do you want to achieve?
- Do you purely want to save money i.e. spend less on energy – especially now that times are tough – or do you want to reduce your environmental footprint on a sustainable basis?
- Are you looking at reducing your total energy consumption or are you also looking at productivity; getting the same value while using less resources?
- How much of your drive to achieve energy efficiency is driven by external circumstances, like the changes in your environment, the increase in electricity tariffs and the pollution caused by your misguided use of energy?
- Are you also driven by internal values like wanting to be carbon neutral, aiming for optimal operational efficiency or the need to do the right thing?
- Why do you look for renewable energy sources and are you willing to pay the short term price for long term benefit?
- Do you even know what they are?
What’s your energy efficiency policy?
If we are really committed to being energy smart, we will be willing to state our energy efficiency goals and values on paper. You know the saying, ‘If you don’t write them down, they’re not real.’ This is the first step. What you put down on paper is equally important. We often see energy efficiency policy statements that are so vague, it renders them useless. A proper energy efficiency policy will have measurable objectives, milestones and clear strategies.
Before you can actually formulate your energy efficiency policy, you need to determine sustainable ways in which you can save energy. If I drive my 1400cc car less by planning my routes better, avoid stop-start driving and keep below 100km/h on the highway, I might be able to save 15-20% on fuel and cost. If I stop using my 3 liter SUV in town and use the 1400cc as above, I may well save 50%. Always determine what the scope is for saving and which methods would work best in your personal circumstances. Why not test yourself?
Energy consumption baseline essential
Last time we mentioned the importance of determining a benchmark of your current energy usage, to compare with the best practice or where you want to be. Only now can you consider the low hanging fruit opportunities and strategies to ensure your efforts contribute to a sustainable improvement that will benefit the overall operational efficiency of your business. Can you save 10% on your Oct 06 – Sep 07 baseline? Government calls this the PCP (Power Conservation Programme).
Although the finer detail is still not finalised, the aim is to incentivize electricity consumers to save 10% (against their 06/07 baseline) through a penalty system. The envisaged penalties are steep. Are you on track? Do you know your baseline? Do you have a strategy to meet your new consumption target? Do you know what it will cost if you don’t achieve the prescribed saving? Don’t wait until the penalties hit you. Get fit before the marathon starts!
Many people consider energy efficiency to reduce their carbon footprint, especially those in the export value chain, tourism and listed companies. Most companies’ energy consumption is the main culprit of their fossil fuel guzzling and carbon emissions. What is your carbon footprint? Do you have an integrated strategy to reduce it?
Efficiency is not enough
A trainee fireman could be highly efficient and set the class record for running up a ladder in the quickest time. However, if the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall, he would not be very effective in fighting the fire. That is why we must rather focus on being energy smart. Efficiency on its own is just not good enough. We need to look at sustainable improvements. Next month in this regular column we focus on the most important bottom-line goals (people, planet, profit) to consider in your quest to become energy smart.
By Carel Venter (pictured)
- Carel Venter is a business strategy and enterprise development adviser with the Centre for Synergy Development (CSD).