12
July
2018
|
16:58
Europe/London

Insight: The smart future of energy use

It’s the current buzz phrase when it comes to reducing energy costs and being more sustainable: being smart. Of course, many businesses have smart meters to monitor use, help keep costs down and reduce the environmental impact of producing energy. It’s estimated that the global smart meter market will grow by 23% by 2025. And through smart technology such as Combined Heat and Power plants, customers have more control than ever over their energy consumption and production.

But there’s also a need for thinking smarter when it comes to business energy use. That’s the responsibility of each business’s Energy Decision Makers (EDMs). They have been charged with devising and implementing a cohesive, costed and sustainable corporate energy strategy. But the key to its success comes not from smart ideas themselves, but rather from getting understanding and buy-in for them from both the business’s leaders and the users across the staff.

EDMs from across a range of sectors have plans in place to save costs and reduce the corporate carbon footprint – everything from encouraging PCs to be turned off each night to sensors that detect if toilet lights need to be on.

They just need widespread buy-in for these plans to become fully effective. After all, the quantity of energy a business consumes is determined, to a degree, by the people using that energy; by those turning on the lights, leaving machines on standby and so on.

To be successful, an energy-use policy also needs to be championed by a board-level director. Herein lies the challenge: A third of EDMs did not believe their board places importance on energy as an overall business strategy. An added problem is that only 47% say staff understand their energy policies. That may be down to the EDMs themselves; the survey indicates that only 17% of the 750 businesses regularly discussed sustainability issues with staff and almost a third (31%) never do so. If it’s buy-in they are seeking, communication is the cornerstone.

That communications message should be based on the huge implications of wasting energy. Not only does it affect the company’s bottom line, but it affects environmental protection. Energy-use reduction is a core part of UK and EU environmental policy, with sustainability and renewable energy an essential part of that. Introducing solar panels and implementing LED lighting are examples of policies that meet this expectation. Having a sustainable energy strategy should form a part of a corporate social responsibility policy. Any strategy to reduce power usage requires staff to understand why changes in attitudes and practices need to be adopted, according to the survey. Showing clear and direct links between behavioural changes and impacts on company finances is one way; highlighting the reduced carbon footprint, celebrating cost savings and even passing on some of those costs in ways of bonuses are others.

Taken from a business survey by The Daily Telegraph and YouGov, 2016.

 

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