At Weyerhaeuser Santiam Lumber Mill in Lebanon, Oregon, a small team of employees meet regularly to talk about something other than lumber. Headed by an “Energy Champion,” the group is committed to finding ways for the mill to reduce its energy consumption. Its strategic energy management tactics range from changing human behaviors (manually turning lights and equipment off when not in use) to implementing mechanical controls to turn systems off when not in use and replacing inefficient lighting fixtures. The team’s efforts have paid off. Since 2012, the mill has saved more than $48,000 annually in energy costs.
Other businesses with a smart energy approach are seeing similar results. American Foods Group cut $572,000 annually from its beef processing plant’s energy bills thanks to numerous energy-efficiency projects. California Portland Cement saved $3 million by improving various plant processes. And smart electricity programs have saved Rice University $1.4 million since 2012.
These businesses are like any other in their desire to boost the bottom line. But there is one thing that makes them different—and more successful—in their efforts: They all have a dedicated energy management team.
An energy management team gets results
An energy management team is a group of employees responsible for planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating a company’s energy use. Typically, it includes members from various business units, particularly from those areas of the company that significantly affect electricity use. The team meets on a regular basis to identify and discuss opportunities for improving energy efficiency. They develop action plans, work on assigned tasks, and produce progress reports for both the team and company executives.
Why does having a team make a difference? Such teams typically represent the apex of a company’s demonstrated commitment to energy efficiency. Without a structured approach, controlling energy usage is a concept without “teeth”. Simply hoping that “everybody” will get the job done usually results in nobody getting it done.
The companies that succeed in proactive energy management almost always have a team in place. Following are some tips for implementing an energy management team at your organization:
- Be creative when recruiting candidates. People will be motivated to join for different reasons, so cover all your bases. Some employees will like the idea of advancing their careers by directly contributing to the overall financial success of the business. Others will be attracted to improving the company’s environmental sustainability efforts. Still others might see it as a learning opportunity, a chance to learn and grow on the job.
- Decide if you need outside help. If you’re passionate about the idea but hesitant about how to begin, consider partnering with a consultant. He or she can provide direction, recommendations for possible projects and technical assistance where needed.
- Integrate the team’s mission into the company’s mission. While the team is responsible for guiding the company’s efforts in energy management, every employee contributes to the mission. Keep the program visible, and acknowledge every staff member who helps to implement the changes successfully.
- Consider providing some degree of formal training. Targeted training that educates employees about specific energy management issues usually leads to a greater sense of investment in the mission. Specialized, technical training for specific staff members will boost the level of expertise in-house. Also, the more employees understand about how your machines or processes work, the more likely they’ll be to follow rules and make suggestions.
Electricity is a critical business resource. Smarter management can give you a competitive edge. To find out even more about how your business can produce additional energy savings, visit ConEdison Solutions.