In the first of a four part series, practicing energy consultant Kit Oung explores carbon reduction strategies using low-cost high-return opportunities and energy management systems.
It’s that time of the year when many organisations do their performance appraisals, assess their energy performance for the year and plan for the goals to be achieved in 2013. Did you achieve all of your energy objectives? Did your action plans deliver the energy reduction you’ve hoped?
The chances are that your energy objectives could be insufficiently clear, the projects were delayed by other colleagues or by other business priorities. Perhaps, with all good intentions, you were unable to complete the projects in time for the appraisal.
To be fair, there are more examples of badly developed and written energy policies, objectives, targets and action plans than there are good ones. “My company will reduce our carbon emissions by 100% in 10 years or we close our existing facilities”. “The company will reduce our energy consumption by 15% in one year”. These are just some of the badly written and dangerous energy objectives.
Why is it a problem?
Badly written energy objectives can be a problem because it drives two wrong behaviours within the organisation: both of which to the detriment of the organisational long-term business performance. The two very demoralising effects are:
If the people within the organisation know of a range of potential “projects” that could deliver the stated objective, a portfolio from projects will be put together to deliver the stated objective regardless of if there are more opportunities to be gained by the business
If the people within the organisation do not know of a range of projects to deliver the stated objectives, the business could potentially fall into the trap of over focusing on reducing energy at the expense of business performance or brandishing the objective as unachievable and business as usual.
The ability to deliver the portfolio of “projects” within the time frame is another important aspect. In real businesses, scheduling these “projects” for implementation could be a big issue. It depends on your ability to negotiate it around the business requirements and business needs. These are issues that are given little thought when the plans are put in place.
How do we move forward?
- Understand the difference between policy, objectives, targets and action plans. There is a significant difference between what constitute an energy policy, objectives and target and action plan. Understand the difference will lead to better wording and drives the right behaviours within the organisation. A pictorial representation of their differences is shown below:
Set objectives and are realistic and with a detailed working action plans to make up the objectives. The chosen policy needs to be backed up with real and defined “projects”. How much does it cost? What is its projected reduction? What is the delivery time? What are the detailed steps to implement the “project”? Have the project risks been identified? Have they been agreed by the management?
Plan out your programme. If it is not possible to implement the “projects” in one go, space them out with defined timeframes. Then, identify the key internal people and resources needed to deliver the action plans. Pay particular attention to when you need to engage with them. This needs to be identified and planned in advance. It’s no good to tell the building manager today “I want the heating systems off from tomorrow for 2 weeks to install this kit”. Realities of life mean that you won’t get it tomorrow!
Insert the specific tasks into the right level of job roles. Once you know who your key players are, get these items planned in. In a more “formal” organisation, it is prudent that it is discussed and built in during appraisal time. In other organisation, that resource has to be agreed in advance with plenty of notice periods.
Regularly monitor and provide feedback. Feedback should not be limited to energy data. Verbal updates, status of projects, etc. can be a good way of giving feedback and/or encouragements. Very often it can also act as a prompt for the need to talk to someone to organise for specific things and reinforces bullet point 4.
Following these simple steps, you’ll have a simple and effective plan, engaged with the right people, integrated into the organisation and measurable to the management of the company. Hopefully, it will help you avoid the “because ...” and “but ...” conversations at the end of the New Year.
Kit Oung is author of Energy management in business: The manager’s guide to maximising and sustaining energy reduction published by Gower.
Next month we'll be looking at: are your colleagues and staff engaging with your energy reduction?
Energy performance is the key topic being explored at the next 2degrees Live event, 'Raising The Energy Performance of Your Properties', which will take place on 25th January 2013. If you are interested in attending please contact Matthew Eastick on +44 (0) 1865 597 640 or firstname.lastname@example.org