For industrial energy management policies and programs to succeed and for adopting protocols like ISO 50001, having an onsite energy manager is essential, but dedicated energy leadership within facilities may be the biggest missing link in energy policy, says a report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
To fill this hole and compensate for budgetary concerns that prevent direct hiring for this emerging position, energy efficiency administrators piloted a program where they sponsored the placement of an energy manager inside facilities to accelerate the pace and volume of efficiency initiatives.
The ACEEE report surveyed the results of the pilot at five programs (Detroit Edison, BC Hydro, Bonneville Power Administration, Wisconsin Focus on Energy and University of Missouri) that placed energy managers at various industrial facilities and concludes that it helped these facilities get used to the idea of having an energy manager and seeing the difference it can make in cost and energy savings, which led them to hire and even expand their cadre of energy managers.
Report author Christopher Russell says that programs like this are an important complement to other industrial programs that improve energy savings. Experience has shown that these managers “can more than pay for their salary with identified energy cost savings,” so these programs represent a low risk way to accelerate energy savings and the learning curve in the industrial sector, he says. For example, the University of Missouri program claims to have identified $1 million in energy and water savings.
The report points out how companies have been traditionally concerned about the cost of analyzing and remedying energy problems, but with sponsored managers, they can move beyond cost to evaluate potential cash flows. It suggests that facilities that apply should be screened for their ability to initiate efficiency efforts and host an energy manager.
Strategic energy management policies are often adopted by isolated energy managers within a company, but the report says it’s important they engage staff across departmental lines and be backed by top management. Since energy managers are often tasked with creating awareness and support, they will need to be good communicators, Russell suggests. Their influence will grow as their numbers grow and they become a more visible group.
The creation of energy manager positions also builds the professional population that can become visible advocates for emerging energy policies and industry protocols such as the ISO 50001 energy management standard.
A columnist for Energy Manager Today recommends energy managers set aside the issue of industry sector and visit any local organization that has ISO 50001 training where the trainees look at ISO 50001 certifications in different sectors.