7 Step Energy Management Action Plan

More and more organizations are discovering that to be energy efficient, they need a comprehensive energy management program. That’s easier said that done, however, as it can be overwhelming to start from scratch or to try to codify ad hoc strategies already in place. Using ENERGY STAR®’s Guidelines for Energy Management as a template, we offer you a condensed guide to creating your own customized energy management action plan.

In terms of energy efficiency, the key to a goal of continuous improvement is to establish best practices and processes. As ENERGY STAR points out, “Any organization, regardless of size, function, or mission can develop an effective energy program if they are willing to make the commitment.” Below are the seven steps that comprise a “take no prisoners” energy management action plan.

STEP 1: Make a Commitment

The first step is to establish an energy director, an energy team and an energy policy. This is the foundation of the whole action plan, so be sure to make it solid. Organize your objectives and make sure they reflect the organization’s commitment, culture and priorities. Creating a team means incorporating accountability throughout your program by instituting a chain-of-command, defining roles in the organization and providing the authority for personnel to implement the energy management action plan.

Having an energy policy creates a context for setting performance goals by linking energy goals to the overall financial and environmental goals of the organization.

Tip! Make sure there is a direct link between your energy director and a senior manager, or at least someone in a senior position willing to serve as an executive ally. Successful programs depend on input from senior management to thrive—it tends to get the whole organization behind the commitment to continuous improvement.

STEP 2: Assess Performance

To do justice to your performance assessment, assemble an expert team whose expertise covers all energy-using systems, processes and equipment. Cast your net wide to include facility engineers, system specialists and other support. Depending on the situation, outside support in the form of an energy systems optimization firm can be a strategic choice for an objective perspective or specific expertise.

After you have a baseline, develop a strategy: Identify and prioritize systems for evaluation, assign team members to tasks and schedule completion dates for the activities. Use your benchmarking results to identify poor-performing facilities whose equipment and systems need a bit of triaging to bring them up to standard.

Tip! After the assessment, create a final report that includes a detailed summary of actual steps that can be taken to reduce energy use. The report should recommend actions that range from simple adjustments in operation to equipment replacement. To make the report even more useful, add estimates of resource requirements for completing actions.

STEP 3: Set Goals

Although the report identifies goals, the organization still needs to determine the order of upgrades as well as give the goals target dates for the entire organization, facilities and other units.

Tip! Some organizations may find it useful to establish two kinds of goals. Threshold goals are the minimum acceptable level of performance, whereas stretch goals represent levels beyond the minimum or targets that are used to create an incentive for greater achievement.

STEP 4: Create Energy Management Action Plan

Once you have defined goals and targets, this next step is to outline roles and resources. Aim for an inclusive strategy that establishes roles and actions throughout the organization to help integrate good energy management practices. A viable action plan is a result of brainstorming with various departments to identify ways they can contribute. One fun way to incentivize ideas is to organize a competition to seek recommendations for energy systems optimization from across the organization.

Tip! Determine the degree to which consultants, service providers, vendors and other product providers will be used. Some organizations may choose to outsource entire aspects of their action plan, while others may only want to contract with specific vendors for limited projects. Even if you outsource some of the implementation, you will still have in-house responsibility to make sure the goals get completed.

STEP 5: Implement Energy Management Action Plan

Implementation is its own undertaking. It requires a thoughtful, multitiered approach that carefully builds capacity in accordance with goals. For successful implementation, you need to develop a communication plan to disseminate information and raise awareness about your goals, provide extra training to build capacity of your staff, keep staff engaged and on board, and finally monitor your progress regularly.

Tip! Increase general awareness by making use of Earth Day events. April 22 is Earth Day, and provides an appropriate context for increasing awareness of the environmental impacts from energy use and how to reduce these impacts through everyday actions at work and home.

STEP 6: Evaluate Progress

No plan is worth its salt until you evaluate how well it worked. It’s absolutely critical to review your action plan to understand what worked well and what didn’t in order to identify best practices.

Tip! Identify and quantify, if possible, side benefits arising from your energy management program, such as employee comfort, productivity improvement, impact on sales, reduced operation and maintenance expenses, or better public/community relations.

STEP 7: Recognize Achievements

Internal and external recognition is hugely important to the entire process. Nothing inspires success like appreciation—it’s extremely motivating for everyone involved.

Tip! Ask senior management to provide the recognition and if possible, do it formally, awarding the accomplishments the respect they deserve.

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