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Checklist for Continuous Energy Efficiency

For those people who have recently joined the energy management ranks, it can be hard to know where to start and how to structure a program that is designed to ensure continuous improvement. Just like lean methodology is leveraged by corporations to eliminate waste, an energy management program is intended to find conservation or optimization opportunities. Here are tips to that end — recommendations that will also ensure compliance with standards such as ISO 50001.

11 steps to identify program gaps and ensure excellence

  • Get Executive Commitment
    It must be clear across the enterprise that energy management and continuous improvement are important to the overall business and supported by top management.
  • Publish an Energy Policy
    Take the time to draft organizational energy priorities, goals and expectations. This guidance will enable the company to make decisions on improvement that align with high-level safety, quality and operational standards.
  • Create a Cross-Functional Team
    Start by assigning an energy leader at each facility that has the time, experience, resources and support needed to deploy efficiency measures. Next, add representatives from other departments such as operations and IT so risks can be assessed and improvements made that align with business goals.
  • Know Your Energy Consumption
    Every company uses energy differently, and has areas where it’s possible to trim consumption and areas where it’s not feasible due to business continuity requirements. Ensure you have data that provides granular detail on where and how energy is used, which helps uncover inefficiencies and waste.
  • Define Success
    Before companies start an energy management program, they should have defined performance metrics, including a baseline, targets and goals, and results of efficiency projects. Other factors to consider are how to normalize usage data (size, weather, etc.); this is essential for measuring effectiveness. A reference year is typically used to establish specific, measurable objectives. E.g., Company X will cut energy consumption by 25 percent over the 2014 baseline, normalized for production activity.
  • Deploy an Energy Management System
    An energy management system  (EMS) includes processes, procedures and technology that provide monitoring, measurement and control for energy consumption, and are essential for systematic energy management.
  • Leverage Operational Controls
    Monitoring and discovering efficiency opportunities is the first step, but employees must have the ability to deploy efficiency measure to reduce consumption. Controls are needed to assure the system is used and employees are properly trained, equipped and supported in their efforts.
  • Create a Plan of Action
    Results are driven by action. A written, agreed upon plan that details capital projects and operational improvements is essential for success.
  • Activate an Energy Community
    Energy management is difficult and complex, which is why dedicated energy mangers need to exchange ideas and experience, discuss issues, and help each other solve problems. This regular cadence will generate significant value, as well as recognize and motivate the energy team.
  • Conduct an Annual Review
    The EMS must be continually improved. As a result, organizations need to conduct a comprehensive annual review to discuss and implement improvements.
  • Implement Infrastructure Design Guidelines
    Energy costs are not often accounted for during infrastructure upgrades. There is an opportunity to move closer to an optimum configuration by considering the cost of electricity, gas, steam, chilled water, compressed air, etc., as well as potential energy recovery systems when improving infrastructure or adding production assets.