The low hanging fruit of energy saving

We see it time and time again – when we talk to people at all levels about what their organisation is doing to reduce energy costs and consumption – they quote with pride their projects to replace lighting with more energy efficient systems, to insulate buildings, to install wind turbines or solar panels and variable speed drives.

Posted on 04 June 2015.

These are all excellent initiatives and it is great to see capital being committed, but sometimes the most effective and least expensive projects are overlooked.

If your organisation takes energy efficiency seriously, providing energy training for your staff is essential, and here are 6 good reasons why:

  • Your employees can be your most powerful asset in achieving and sustaining energy and cost savings. They will know your business processes and operations better than an outside consultant, and can be best placed to identify and implement energy saving opportunities.

  • Training will encourage and empower staff to take ownership of implementing identified energy saving opportunities..

  • Trained Energy Champions can support their colleagues and management to identify, implement and sustain energy saving improvements.

  • Energy awareness training is an important part of a continuous improvement process to reduce energy consumption and an essential requirement of the International Standard ISO 50001 for Energy Management.

  • A qualification in energy awareness is a powerful way to tell your customers, your staff and all your stakeholders that you are a responsible organisation and that you take energy efficiency seriously.

  • The cost of training is relatively low compared to other energy improvement projects.

    We know how changing behaviour can have a direct and significant impact on saving energy.   For example, we worked with one client to deliver a best practice LED lighting project which required a capital investment of £480k.  The project was a real success and achieved energy savings representing 7½% p.a. of total site consumption.  We delivered a behaviour management training programme to the same client for £50k and they also achieved similar energy savings of 7½% p.a.

    If such great results can be achieved, why don’t more organisations do it?  The answer is almost certainly because for most organisations the benefits that can be achieved through training and the resulting behaviour change are intangible and difficult to quantify which makes gaining capital approval more challenging.

    So, how can you create a business case that gains the support of the holders of the purse strings?   A good starting point is to look at what other organisations have achieved and use this as evidence to support a pilot project.  With accurate energy monitoring and reporting, a pilot in one part of the organisation (or site) where results can be measured and compared to other parts can be a powerful way to demonstrate potential savings. 

    We recently completed an analysis of energy consumption during the Christmas and Easter shutdown periods for one client across 15 sites to determine how each site performed.  Only 3 out of 15 sites actually reduced consumption despite limited production taking place.  It was no coincidence that these three sites were the ones where energy training had been delivered.  

    For the pilot to be successful (so that you can prove the benefits), it is essential in the first place to ensure that sufficient metering and monitoring is in place to obtain accurate and relevant data.  It is also important to have the right level of expertise to deliver the training required.  If this isn’t available in-house, appoint an external experienced provider who can demonstrate what they have achieved elsewhere.

    Another critical success factor is the visible support of management particularly where this is reflected in company communications and making the budget available.  Our experience shows that once the management commits, you will always get greater levels of interest and buy-in throughout the organisation. 

    Once the evidence of the pilot has been collected and the business case established, training can be rolled out across the organisation and the benefits will follow.  Low hanging fruit picked!   

    If you would like to discuss any aspect of the above, don’t hesitate to get in touch: