Across industries, companies that have the best grasp on energy management and energy efficiency programs follow similar steps -- and struggle with similar challenges, according to a just-published survey of executives.
There are three habits of "best in class" companies, researchers at The Aberdeen Group found:
- Use of real-time and historical energy data, made available to decision makers
- Standardized processes across all parts of their organizations
- Metrics for benchmarking energy performance at all plants and facilities
The common practices were uncovered through a survey of 254 executives earlier this year about their energy programs and strategies to find out what drives success.
Additionally, those seen as being above the average are more keen on redesigning and optimizing processes in ways that tie into company energy goals, mainly by using energy data as a basis for production, maintenance and energy delivery decisions.
Companies that want to learn from the successes of the best in class firms should also consider creating cross-functional teams that take a holistic look at energy use, and embrace the use of reporting, dashboards and analytics.
Because of the close connection between energy and expenses -- as well as energy and greenhouse gas emissions -- the business case for better energy managerment and efficiency has been well-established, such as through the hundreds of millions of dollars in savings discovered by companies participating in the EDF Climate Corps program.
From Aberdeen's survey, 72 percent of executives said that cost reduction is a main driver for energy programs, half said competitive advantage provides pressure, and 44 percent said their energy management is influenced by current or future regulations.
That last point is where carbon comes into play, since energy savings generally also lead to lower emissions. More companies also cited regulations as a pressure this year than the previous survey, in which 38 percent noted regulations as a main driver.
Aberdeen ends its report, "Energy Intelligence: Driving Optimization with Visibility," with recommendations for companies at any level -- laggards, average or best in class -- showing that everyone has room for improvement.
Laggards, for instance, generally need to get executive sponsorship of initiatives, those among the average need standard metrics and need to measure their performance, and the best need to increase use of energy and carbon tools.
Those at all levels also face some similar challenges: Managing the complexity of the data, and building the skills and resources to handle it.
As companies collect more energy data, it can quickly become overwhelming without the proper filters and understanding of what data to capture, when to get it, where to get it from and how to analyze it.
That goes hand-in-hand with having the right resources and skilled employees to look at data, understand it and, ultimately, do something with it.
For more information about the report, visit Aberdeen.com.
Power meter images CC-licensed by redjar/Flickr