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Energy Management Guidelines Save Money, EPA Says

Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

EPA has published Guidelines for energy management, based on Energy Star partners’ best practices. The seven-step guidelines help companies save money and energy, according to the agency.

Step 1: Make a commitment. Continued financial returns on energy management require regular energy-performance assessment, EPA says. This means committing staff and funding to establish an energy team and implement an energy policy. The Guidelines use 3M Worldwide as an example of a good energy policy. The company’s policy statement reads: “3M will promote the efficient use of energy to produce and deliver products and services to its customers.” Its guidelines include actions such as emphasizing energy efficiency as a factor in product development and cooperating with governmental agencies and utility companies on energy programs.

Step 2: Assess performance. This includes data collection and management, baselining and benchmarking, and analysis and evaluation to first understand current energy use and then identify opportunities to improve energy performance and cut costs. This requires a financial investment, but can pay for itself in time. For example, General Mills established a system that tracked which facilities use the most energy and identifies errors in utility bills that might have otherwise gone unnoticed and paid. GM’s system cost $1 million to develop; the company says it has paid for itself multiple times.

Step 3: Set goals. In this step, the energy team sets measurable goals to guide daily decision-making. Communicate and post the goals to encourage staff to support the energy-management efforts, EPA suggests. Johnson & Johnson’s goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent by 2005 and by 7 percent by 2010 from a baseline of 1990. In other goal examples: GM has targeted a 25 percent reduction in total energy use from 1995 levels by 2005.

Step 4: Create an action plan. With goals in place, define technical steps and targets, and determine roles and resources. Unlike the energy plan, update the action plan regularly such as on an annual basis, EPA says. The Energy Star Building Upgrade Manual provides a guide for developing an systematic approach, and the industry specific resources in the energy star Industrial Energy Management Information Center gives detailed information about reducing energy use in an industrial plant.

Step 5: Implement an action plan. This includes creating a communication plan with information about the energy management plan, raising company awareness about energy management initiatives and creating incentives to encourage staff to achieve energy goals. Use the tracking system to track and monitor progress. The Walt Disney Company, according to EPA, developed an intranet-based computer program called the Utility Reporting System (URS) to track and manage energy at its some 200 buildings. This system publishes utility and submetering data on Disney’s intranet system and tracks energy-savings efforts. Disney estimates that its URS has encourages employees to reduce energy use 5 to 20 percent.

Step 6: Evaluate progress. Measure results, review the action plan and set new performance goals.

Step 7: Recognize achievements. EPA says in 2006 it recognized seven Energy Star partners for leadership in energy management and six others for their sustained excellence in this category. Additionally, EPA recognized four Energy Star service and product provider partners. To publicize the winner’s achievements, EPA developed a full-page, color public service announcement that ran in major publications.

 



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