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Your four-steps to becoming an energy leader and optimising your business

Optimising your business starts with better energy efficiency, monitoring consumption and adopting modern solutions. It’s time to become an energy leader.

From energy measurement to adopting the latest energy technologies, there’s a number of steps you need to take to become an energy leader. Discover what they are.

Rising energy costs have become an issue for all businesses. In an increasingly competitive environment, a relentless focus on driving down costs has become the norm for many businesses. Energy is often a significant contributor to operating costs so it’s hard to think of energy as anything but another unavoidable running cost. 

But the truth is that in a digital economy our dependence on energy will continue to increase —  so the energy manager needs to approach the issue more strategically. Your CFO is almost certainly scrutinising your energy costs and asking you to make efficiencies. But is there more to it than simply squeezing your energy provider harder and harder?

In reality, your energy strategy has the potential to be much more than just another cost saving exercise. Indeed, your corporate reliance on energy means that it is already a strategic asset and should be treated as such.

But how do you convince senior management of this strategic importance? How can you show that a well-conceived energy strategy will provide wide-ranging benefits for the whole business?

Look at what others are already doing

There are already some businesses which have successfully turned energy into a strategic advantage — we call them energy leaders. It’s no surprise that those with the most advanced energy strategies are 2.5x more likely than their peers to be achieving strong financial performance. They are also 2.3x more likely to be a leading brand in their market, and twice as likely to be customer-centric.

The list continues too. They are 2.7x better equipped to deal with risks in their marketplace and 2.6x more likely to be attracting the brightest talent.

But the killer stat — as far as senior management is concerned? The most advanced organisations are 6.7x more likely to be operating a sustainable business model. Which means they are much better equipped to face the challenges of the future than less well-prepared competitors.

The most successful energy leaders are the ones that can build a strong business case by showing how what they’re doing supports performance and growth. That’s going to increasingly mean establishing formal energy strategies that link energy investments to business goals.

How to achieve energy leadership

There are four key areas that you need to address:

  1. Increasing visibility of energy use
  2. Increasing energy efficiency
  3. Balancing energy sources
  4. Reducing business risk 

But what does that look like in practice?

1. Deploy smart energy measurement and analytics

Smart energy solutions, such as wireless sensors and analytics and BAS/BMS/(building automation and management systems), give your company the opportunity to improve energy efficiency. By using these technologies you gain end-to-end visibility of energy use — and the opportunity to identify potential efficiencies and savings.

Almost a third (30%) of businesses surveyed which have adopted both wireless sensors and BMS/BAS view themselves as much more energy efficient than similarly-sized competitors — compared with less than one in ten of those using neither technology.

2. Adopt advanced energy solutions

Measures that deliver energy efficiency improvements to buildings, including HVAC and energy-efficient lighting are the first step towards smarter energy. Energy leaders will take matters further however, adopting technologies that generate power too.

Businesses with high thermal loads (e.g. hot water, steam, chilled water or hot air) and high electricity costs should consider distributed energy solutions such as the use of thermal-electric generation. Others may find that on-site renewables like Solar PV are a better fit for their site.

Where renewables are identified as a potential additional energy solution, your business could investigate partnering with other organisations This will allow you to share the cost of purchase and deployment, and to generate greater returns from selling excess energy back to the grid.

3. Strengthen energy security provisions

Outages could have a significant impact on financial performance and customer loyalty. So your strategy must include ways to maintain energy supplies in the event of a serious energy interruption. 

Energy leaders approach this challenge in two ways. First, they balance their energy sources, supplementing grid supplies with additional sources like thermal-electric generation and renewables. Second, they implement energy storage solutions — like lithium ion battery technology — to maintain supply in the event of an outage.

4. Linking energy plans to outcomes

The most important differentiator between the most and least energy mature businesses is the way their energy strategy is framed. Energy leaders link their plans to wider business outcomes.

These businesses have a comprehensive energy strategy that includes specific targets, actions or budgets for items they themselves have identified as important to their use of energy. Every improvement or efficiency is intended to help the business achieve its wider objectives.

For those with a comprehensive energy strategy, four in ten (38%) businesses surveyed believe it delivers a clear competitive advantage. A third (31%) do so because they have recognised energy as a business priority. These businesses properly understand what is at stake — and what they stand to gain.

For those choosing not to adopt an energy strategy, the chances are that you won’t maximise your efficiencies, your business risks will be higher than they should be and you will be missing out on a source of competitive advantage. 

Takeaways

Those four key steps that your senior management team must buy into if your business wants to become an energy leader are:

  • Deploy smart energy measurement and analytics — continuously measure how energy is used
  • Adopt distributed energy solutions — control your energy sources and create new revenue streams with on-site generation and sales of excess energy
  • Strengthen energy security provisions — develop resilient, balanced energy sources to protect against costly outages
  • Linking energy plans to outcomes — create an energy strategy that delivers against your overall business goals.

Businesses that follow this four-step methodology typically end up outperforming competitors. To find out how you can become an energy leader and optimise your business outcomes, download The Energy Advantage Report

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