Organizations can miss the business case for energy efficiency and sustainability projects for reasons that are wide ranging and not just limited to payback periods. After all, it’s a business case, not just a financial one, that leads to the successful implementation of any efficiency or sustainability investment. Understanding why companies fail to see the overall value of sustainability or efficiency initiatives is just as important as understanding how to present a financial case. One reason that can be difficult to address is the often-siloed approach to decision-making when it comes to these projects.
It starts with internal engagement
A disconnect between management, departments and employees can create barriers to energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives; particularly, where what is deemed a business priority by one is not necessarily shared by another. Reconciling different viewpoints and priorities requires extensive reciprocal engagement, an activity which strengthens energy efficiency and sustainability plans in the long-term.
Energy and sustainability professionals need to identify key partners who will be central to the success of their given program and ensure they are fully engaged with the process from the outset. Start at the top of the company and work your way down – ensuring each layer is on-board and contributing to your program.
Successful business proposals should to take both an organization-wide view, and actively invite feedback at an individual and stakeholder level. Doing this requires you to be multilingual; you might be talking in terms of bottom line profit to the senior management team, kilowatt hours to facilities and maintenance or production productivity to the operations manager. Each of these conversations are equally important to the successful implementation of a project.
Moving from missed opportunities to new energy savings
A global automotive manufacturer was challenged with lack of visibility of energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives and a low level of consistency across their 74 sites in 19 countries. Despite global targets, the firm had little visibility at a site level across multiple geographies. Global policies were being ignored or inconsistently enacted.
The company suffered from limited collaboration and unclear accountability: no one was centrally driving the effort to align all sites and improve their efficiency and there was no way to share knowledge of what was working. Consequently, sites were missing targets and experiencing long deployment cycles.
Schneider Electric facilitated energy efficiency workshops at six sites and a renewable energy analysis, bringing together diverse stakeholders to agree on which areas of improvement would have the greatest impact. Through this activity, the organization gained buy-in to execute a power purchase agreement (PPA) and onsite self-generation. By bringing stakeholders together to identify opportunities, the company quickly uncovered up to 20% in energy savings equal to $4 million total savings on multiple projects with just two-year paybacks.
To learn more about organizations that are seeing the value of implementing efficiency and sustainability initiatives in tandem, download our new eBook – Converging on Success: Connecting Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Programs.
Contributed by: Tom Bardwell, Sustainability Consultant, Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services