Big Savings for Small to Mid-Sized Businesses: Learning from Industry Giants
You don’t need to be a giant enterprise like Microsoft to reap significant benefits from an energy reduction strategy. But what’s the best way to implement change across an entire enterprise- and have it stick?
If you’re like most small to mid-sized businesses, energy spend is among your top 3 annual expenses. But unfortunately, few companies outside of the energy sector consider their energy budget a strategic priority for cost savings. A small business may plan to reduce costs by creating alliances with specific vendors or suppliers, but never examine the impact that some simple energy reduction measures can contribute to the bottom line.
The Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT) sector is among the world’s largest energy consumers. Cloud computing and the associated technological heavy lifting, paired with fluctuating energy costs and new carbon regulations place ICT companies at risk for sky-high energy bills. To mitigate this risk, in 2011 Microsoft assembled a team of experts and commissioned them to develop a strategy to reduce risk, lower energy consumption, and increase reliance on renewables. And they’re seeing big results.
While your company may not have the scale or global impact of Microsoft (of course, if you’re a “Mac Buff”, you may heave a sigh of relief there), businesses of any size can apply the principles of Microsoft’s energy reduction strategy to secure buy-in and reap significant savings.
Step 1: Who
Substantial change travels from the top down. To implement any comprehensive energy reduction strategy, it’s critical to receive buy-in from top level executives. For example, the CEO makes a commitment to include energy reduction as a central strategy for growth and the maintenance of competitive edge.
Once this commitment has been established, the executive can appoint senior leaders to develop and guide this new strategic direction. For many manufacturers, the plant or operations manager is the perfect leader to perform this function. He or she will need to gather a well-rounded team, which would ideally include members from finance, engineering, maintenance, procurement, and any other area deemed important for the success of the program.
Step 2: What
Many companies utilize Visual Management Boards (VMB’s) as part of their lean production processes, but few include energy metrics. Introducing metrics such as daily and monthly cost ($) and volume (kWh) is an easy way to open the discussion about energy usage as it pertains to various processes and trends. As stakeholders become more comfortable discussing these metrics, increase the sophistication by including production metrics like $/production unit or kWh/production unit. The idea here is to gain an understanding of where and how energy is being utilized across the organization.
Step 3: Where
Delving deep into the data to identify opportunities for change can inform how you develop your strategy. This stage can be quite labour and time intensive if your team is analyzing and inputting the data manually, so it’s wise to consider using a third party platform to increase efficiency and reduce the risk of manual errors.
One such tool is the Bruce Power Saver. It’s a cloud-based platform that automatically collects energy usage data utilizing smart meters, allowing you to establish a baseline, form a strategy, and measure results. For more information on the Bruce Power Saver, download an overview here.
Step 4: How
Now, you can begin implementing the use of renewable energy and other advanced technology to increase savings.
The good news is that for Ontario residents, the shift to renewable energy has already started. Our grid is more than 70% emission free! Ontario is the first jurisdiction in North America to have completely eliminated coal-generated electricity.
Step 5: Who (else)
As your energy conservation strategy grows and evolves, and the results of cost savings efforts begin to roll in, communication is key to the sustainability of the program. Share the data and encourage employees to participate. An organization that entrenches a commitment to energy reduction across departments and locations will reap the greatest rewards.
Are you looking for simple ways to introduce energy savings practices into your organization? We can give you easy to implement strategies to help you build effective energy conservation programs in just six days. Sign up here.