Energy management has evolved- Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Efficiency, Industrial, Commercial, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables  -  September 14, 2016

In strategic energy management, efficiency 'just the beginning,' EDF says in 1st-of-its-kind report

Energy management has come a long way in the past decade. 

Just how far — and what the road ahead might look like — are the subject of a new report from the Environmental Defense Fund chronicling almost a decade of hands-on experience within energy management programs across hundreds of organizations through its Climate Corps program. 

Since its launch in 2008, EDF's Climate Corps program has placed more than 700 student "fellows" inside organizations across the private and public sector to help accelerate energy projects. Each year, EDF says, those fellows have built the business case for investment in efficiency — and increasingly in recent years clean energy — and presented those opportunities to their host organizations for adoption.

Within the 34-page report, which includes five short Climate Corps case studies from corporate hosts Comcast Corp., Nestlé Waters North America Inc., Tiffany & Co., Shorenstein Properties LLC and Iron Mountain Inc., EDF reveals its findings after analyzing eight years of program data. 

"Despite the many challenges associated with strategic energy management, we have observed significant advancement in organizational performance over the years," EDF's Thomas Murray, vice president of corporate partnerships wrote in the report's forward.  "While many opportunities for improvement remain, we are encouraged by the progress that organizations have made in turning energy management from a one-off investment into a strategic priority." 

Over the years, EDF tracked each project opportunity, which has lead to the creation of what it says is the largest known database of more than 3,200 onsite energy management projects. The data, drawn from EDF Climate Corps' work with more than 350 companies, nonprofits and government agencies across the U.S. and China, reveals the emergence of some clear trends and changes. Here's how EDF characterizes the top four: 

  • Energy efficiency is just the beginning. Organizations are increasingly engaging in high-level and strategic energy management activities, including clean energy projects, data analysis and financial evaluation and planning;
  • Turning one win into many: Organizations are scaling up the size and scope of their energy projects;
  • Front-loaded costs...but greater ROI: Energy project investment opportunities offer increasingly significant financial returns, but may require larger upfront investments;
  • More environmental bang for the buck: The scale of potential environmental benefits has increased even faster than the financial opportunities.

As for clean energy projects, EDF has watched interest in the area rise over the years. According to the report, 30% of the organizations that hosted a Climate Corps fellow in 2015 worked on at least one clean energy project, and an ever larger percentage is expected in 2016.

EDF's report also reveals that investment in commercial and industrial building energy efficiency has risen dramatically in recent years, more than doubling between 2006 and 2014 from $7 billion to $16 billion.

While acknowledging the key challenges and barriers organizations face, the report also offers a look at what's next and provides clear, actionable recommendations for organizations. The full report is available on EDF's website

Editor's note: EDF is a Smart Energy Decisions content partner. 

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