Being energy smart requires that no decisions are taken in isolation. We need to look at the nature of our daily life (private and/or business), how we use technology, which habits need to change, how much change is needed, and how easy/complicated these might be. Firstly consider existing business strategies and operations. They need to be supported by the energy efficiency interventions.
One example is Load Shifting – rescheduling your business operations to fall outside Eskom’s peak demand hours. Office blocks could easily limit energy consumption between 5 and 8 every morning and evening. However, most factories would not be able to change their operational hours as easily.
To what extent can your business processes be adapted to be more efficient? Most importantly, how strong is your leadership’s desire to embrace change?
Possible considerations could be to retrofit (make current equipment more efficient), replace old equipment with new, more energy efficient solutions (e.g. replace old lights with compact fluorescent lights), and employ demand controls to automate the management of equipment use (e.g. timers on geysers and motion detectors on lights).
Technology can also be used to condition the electrical system and filter waste and distortions from the network to save energy (similar to placing a filter in your car’s fuel line).
Technology, especially computers in combination with meters and demand controls, can offer even more savings opportunities by supplying management information and offering programmable controls.
In implementing a holistic approach, the buy-in of all role-players in a business normally is the biggest challenge. If people’s attitude and habits toward energy efficiency do not change, the approach will be unable to provide sustainable savings. Imagine buying a new energy efficient fridge and the kids never close the door!
Most companies do not have the internal capacity to develop an Integrated Energy Management Strategy. As this is not the core business, focus would easily be lost. It is a good idea to contract specialist assistance – the same as you would use an external auditor, lawyer, electrician or mechanic when non-core services are needed. If you employ external assistance, always ensure the appointed consultants /advisors are able to facilitate the formulation of an integrated strategy as well as assist you in managing the change.
People’s resistance to change has sunk many an excellent technology project resulting in the company losing rather than gaining efficiency. Being Energy Smart should improve the company bottom-line. To ensure sustainability a company must set targets for the Triple Bottom-line and employ a holistic Energy Smart approach to ensure the envisaged bottom-line improvements are achieved on a sustained basis.
By Carel Venter
Carel is a business strategist and mentor with CSD.