In today's commercial property management environment, it’s vital that facilities managers improve efficiency in order to comply with all applicable government regulations and to meet the fiscal targets set by property owners.
Energy management strategies play a significant role in their ability to set efficiency targets, and maintain performance without creating a lot of overhead. So how can you set yourself up for success?
Step 1: Identify Areas of Inefficiency
While this sounds like a simple process, the reality is that identifying energy inefficiencies requires a multi-layered approach. The factors that affect energy costs are:
- Energy consumption overall
- How energy is purchased
- When peak periods of consumption occur
Oftentimes, the bulk of the effort to manage energy efficiency is centered on reducing energy consumption overall. To that end, you may spend much of your time on energy conservation measures.
While this will certainly positively impact your energy management initiatives, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. You need to take into account the other two primary cost drivers as well.
Having a clear understanding of billing for energy will help you budget more appropriately, forecast more accurately, and evaluate your current energy spending more judiciously. In turn, understanding your facility's peak demand charges will enable you to be more proactive in forecasting future budgetary requirements and allocating funds appropriately.
Clearly defining peak period usage will also help you to adjust your operating schedules in such a way as to reduce inefficiency and waste.
Step 2: Craft a Comprehensive Strategy
A comprehensive strategy for efficient, sustainable energy management involves the right team of people performing the right functions at the right time.
THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Prompting engagement of multiple departments across your entire organization is key. For instance, without the input of your financial department, it is difficult to fully understand budgetary requirements and restrictions.
In a similar way, without the active involvement of your procurement department, it is impossible to conduct a legitimate cost/benefit analysis for various energy vendors.
Without full engagement of your maintenance staff, energy inefficiencies caused by equipment failures and major systems issues will not be adequately addressed.
To garner the support from multiple departments, it is a best practice to have a clearly defined energy management leader who will coordinate inter-departmental communication and spearhead all energy management initiatives across your entire organization. Get buy-in from the top that this is a priority in your organization first, and then you can get to work on a plan.
THE RIGHT PLAN
Once the right people are in place, it is time to develop a plan that includes both the short- and long-term objectives of your energy management strategy, deadlines for achieving interim goals, and clearly defined metrics to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
While short-term successes are necessary to build momentum, it is essential to remember that long-term success is the ultimate goal for sustainable energy management. Committing to continued sustainability requires consistent attention over the long haul.
Step 3: Put the Plan in Motion
Because continued success depends upon long-term performance, one of the most important components of a sustainable energy management plan involves collecting, analyzing, and acting upon insights gained from monitoring software solutions.
Advances in technology greatly aid this process. With cloud-based technology solutions, it is possible to collect real-time data about energy consumption from anywhere at any time.
Comparing this data with your monthly energy bills provides insight into potential issues, usage patterns, current energy costs, and results of your energy management plan on a continuing basis.
Armed with this knowledge, you can make decisions based on accurate information, rather than relying completely on outdated information or future projections which may or may not be appropriate given your energy management environment.