‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will lead you there.’
This is as true in achieving sustainable energy efficiency as in any other core business outcome. Being Energy Smart means having stretched targets. You also need to understand what is required to bridge the gap between your current situation and the goals you want to achieve, or the state to be.
It is possible for you to offset the 25% average increase in electricity tariffs. You simply need to reduce your energy consumption by 20% in 2010. However, first of all you must know and understand your energy status – meaning your current baseline as well as which improvements would prove most significant.
Measure your energy usage
To determine your current baseline you need an analysis of your utility account spanning two to three years as well as targeted measurements to determine the consumption in specific operations (such as cafeteria, admin, sales, warehouse, production, etc.) and technologies (lights, computers, aircon, pumps, lifts, etc.). This is called an Energy Audit.
Important information on your utility account includes the Reading Period (how many days), kWh Consumed and rate (take note of peak, standard and off-peak consumption if available) as well as Maximum Demand (kVA) and rates for corresponding periods.
To ensure an accurate Energy Audit, you can use specialists to measure and analyse the information. What is also important is that the information is benchmarked (at least internally, but externally against similar operations, if possible). Below is an example of using Energy Audit data to benchmark companies.
The benchmarked information then is used to compare the gap efficiency between you and your competitors. If the analysis is done for the whole supply chain, you can also analyse to what extent the inefficiency of your suppliers impact on your footprint (efficiency).
Below is an example of the Carbon Footprint Gap Analysis in a supply chain of agricultural product export. The blue graphs indicate best practises while the brown graphs indicate the company and its supply chain. In this example, it is clear that the gap is enormous, which provides a huge opportunity for improvement.
Once the gap is determined, as well as the specific causes of inefficiency, possible solutions can be evaluated. For each potential solution a cost-benefit analysis is done to enable prioritisation. Ideally, you would want to start with interventions that will render the biggest improvement over the shortest period with the lowest investment requirement.
Below is a typical table of how alternative solutions are evaluated and prioritised:
The aerated showerheads scores high on total avoided cost as well as relative low project cost versus kWh saved. These showerheads restrict the water flow and add air to simulate the sensation of more water on your body. By implementing such a solution, you can drastically reduce the water consumption, especially hot water. This reduces the amount of water your geyser needs to reheat. A substantial saving in the cost of both energy and water is achieved. Aerated showerheads are available at all hardware stores and require no professional (plumber) for installation.
Intelligent Metering is also indicated as a ‘low hanging fruit’ solution. Remember, this option must supply the correct management information going forward. Do not depend on a solution that merely depicts your utility accounts in graphical formats. In the next article, Intelligent Metering will be discussed in more detail.
Prioritise to reduce your footprint
In our next article, some energy saving options will be analysed. In addition, you will be shown how to use a strategic framework to prioritise the implementation of various solutions to improve your energy efficiency and reduce your environmental footprint.
By Carel Venter
Carel is a Business Strategist and Business Mentor at the Centre for Synergy Development (CSD).