What is it?
Strategic Energy Management (SEM) can be defined as taking a holistic approach to manage energy in order to promote continuous improvement. SEM focuses on driving business practice and organizational culture change from senior management through floor level employees. The emphasis is on impacting energy use through behavioral and operational changes, although capital projects are still supported.
How is it done?
There are three primary areas of Strategic Energy Management: customer commitment, planning and implementation, and measurement and energy performance reporting.
Senior management commitment is crucial to the SEM process. They set and communicate energy policy and reduction goals, ensure proper resources are available, and assign responsibilities to an energy champion or team. Without commitment from management, the SEM process is dead in the water.
Planning and implementation activities begin with an assessment to gauge current energy management practices. A map of energy end uses and drivers is created to develop measurable metrics and goals. Ultimately, an energy project list containing savings, costs, and priorities is prepared, and describes actions to be taken. This includes capital and operational projects, employee awareness, and procurement practices. Employee engagement plans are also created to educate, empower, solicit ideas, and ensure savings persistence for implemented projects. SEM is a continuous process, so goals, metrics, and planned projects must be reassessed on a recurring schedule.
Finally, by measuring and analyzing results, organizations are better able to manage their performance. This third prong in the SEM process includes collecting data to understand energy use (including sub metering equipment), and identifying energy driver variables (like weather and production). The energy use data and driver variables are used to develop a predictive baseline energy model that is compared to actual energy use. This validates savings over time. Finally, results of energy performance achievements are communicated internally and externally for recognition.
Why do it?
Ultimately, why is this process important? It sure seems like a lot of rigmarole to get energy savings, doesn’t it? The power of Strategic Energy Management is its persistence. Once energy management is ingrained within a corporate culture, it is likely to be self-sustaining. This means energy projects are more likely to be on customers’ minds. They are more likely to loop in their account managers when they are considering projects, which minimizes the amount of unclaimed savings. In addition, studies have shown that customers participating in SEM programs implement more capital projects per year than non-participants. And by providing training to support customers through their SEM journey, their satisfaction with energy efficiency programs is likely to rise due to more touch points and tailored support. Add all of those factors up and SEM starts to sound like a real winner.