Why aren’t more people listening to Jonathon Porritt?

In a recent interview with multi-media sustainability platform, Edie, environmental champion Jonathon Porritt insisted that the business case for sustainability will grow from strength-to-strength as organisations increasingly realise there is “no downside to getting good at sustainability“.

Posted on 05 September 2016.

In a recent interview with multi-media sustainability platform, Edie, environmental champion Jonathon Porritt insisted that the business case for sustainability will grow from strength-to-strength as organisations increasingly realise there is “no downside to getting good at sustainability“.

I totally agree.  This is a message that we have been repeating over and over for many years from our perspective as energy consultants.  Save energy, save money and reduce carbon footprint – it’s a no brainer!  As Mr Porritt also points out, often savings can be made without huge additional cost.  But why then is the message not getting through to the people who make the investment decisions? 

It is true that there are some organisations that take energy efficiency very seriously (although the cynic in me suspects that a few are better at spinning their achievements than delivering their commitments), but we know that there are very many that just do the bare minimum to comply with their legal requirements.  I’m afraid Mr Porritt is rather more optimistic than I am when he says “we’ll continue to see a lot of businesses drive sustainability issues for the foreseeable future". 

 We see it time and time again, even from those with responsibility for managing and reducing energy who should know better, energy projects are side-lined for other money-making projects.   I repeatedly hear from clients ‘this is not a priority at the moment’, ‘we can’t look at this yet’, and ‘we’ll review this next year.’  Whenever I hear this, I have a mental picture of the army general who doesn’t have time to speak to the gun salesman because he is too busy fighting a battle with bows and arrows!  People are running around trying to increase profits and lower costs without considering the obvious cost saving that is staring them in the face.  Why?

One of the commonly cited barriers to the uptake of energy efficiency projects is the lack of trust of the level of savings being claimed.

One way to overcome this barrier is by asking for proof of energy consumption savings by using the protocol for performance measurement and verification (M&V) as outlined in the International Performance Measurement & Verification Protocol (IPMVP) Guidelines.   The guidelines, built with the help of organizations from 16 countries and hundreds of individual experts from 25 nations, provides a consistent, reliable approach to M&V around the world.

Another barrier is the cost of implementing improvement projects, but often improvements can be made with little or no investment.  We have delivered energy behaviour training programmes, for example, that have delivered the same energy savings as capital investment programmes but at a fraction of the cost.

These arguments go some way to reassuring the decision makers but we know that much more needs to be done to push energy up the corporate agenda.  This is not a fight that is going to be won in the short or even medium term.  It’s going to be a war of attrition over the next few decades, armed by rising energy costs, legislation and environmental lobbyists like Jonathon Porritt.

Whatever, this is a fascinating article and as always Jonathon Porritt’s commitment and vision for the future is inspiring.

Jes Rutter, MD, JRP Solutions Ltd

For more information of any of the above, please email info@jrpsolutions.com or call 0800 6127 567