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How to build an effective energy strategy for your business

22 September 2022

Companies create strategies for sales and marketing, employee retention, distribution, and more. Yet many forget to be strategic regarding energy use, and that oversight means wasted money and opportunities because energy is more than just a business expense to manage.

Whether your company spends hundreds or millions of dollars annually on energy, you need an energy strategy. It can help you spend more wisely, budget more effectively, waste less, and be more environmentally responsible. Besides, it presents an opportunity to decrease risk, differentiate from the competition, create additional value, and improve resilience. Let’s look at seven key steps for building a comprehensive energy strategy for your business.

1. Top down

You know how vital it is for employees to have a clear idea of your company’s mission, vision, and values. The same is true for priorities, so if more effective energy use and changing the way your organization uses energy becomes a priority, remember to share it and explain why it’s important. Intentionally creating a culture where using renewable energy in the most efficient way becomes a priority will show your team that it needs to be important to them, too.

Express to your employees that energy conservation is a meaningful priority that is both good for the business and important on a personal level. It will be easier to get everyone on board if they see and hear your enthusiasm and if they understand this isn’t just another cost-saving measure. It’s a change that is good for the environment, the future, and everyone’s consciences, too.

2. Track current use and establish goals

To create an effective energy strategy, you must understand your current usage and habits. Collect as much information as you can about your historical energy use and use it to create a baseline.

Once you know as much as possible about how you use energy, you can effectively establish goals and determine what indicators you will use to measure your progress towards achieving those goals.

3. Identify opportunities

Just as your company seeks to identify opportunities for increasing business or cutting production costs, you should work to identify opportunities to save money on your energy or switch to more environmentally friendly energy options.

Look for specific ways to move your organization closer to your goals. This may include sourcing clean energy, purchasing energy-generating equipment, upgrading older systems and machinery, or examining your suppliers and internal processes.

If you haven’t already done so, this might also be an excellent time to bring in a commercial energy consultant. Energy strategy consulting can make you aware of options you might not know exist or help you better integrate changes in the most effective ways.

4. Seek outside incentives and programs

Numerous programs exist to help you save energy and money and move toward more environmentally conscious energy sources. Seek out grants, tax breaks, rebates, and other incentives that will help you start saving even more quickly. These can cover upgraded equipment, consultations with energy experts, or funds to offset the costs of switching to renewable energy.

5. Take your risk tolerance into account to budget properly

The changes you are making will have profound effects on your business and the environment. They may also change how you pay for your energy, so ensure you are accounting for them in your budget.

For example, signing up for a variable rate energy plan may create more significant swings in your monthly costs than you are used to. You may also see an initial expense as you upgrade equipment, then lower utility bills going forward.

The changes you are making under your company’s new energy policy will help save money over time. But they may also create some uneven spending for a while. Make sure your budget is ready for that.

6. Engage employees

Once your employees know energy conservation is a key priority to the business, continue to engage them. Your efforts will be more successful with commitment from everyone in the organization.

The first step is making sure that you keep your teams apprised of your energy goals and the progress toward those goals. To elevate the game, consider providing training on energy management best practices in both their work and personal lives, and then incentivizing staff to prioritize more mindful energy use in their lives outside the office. Rewarding those who identify areas of waste or possible changes can also be a great way to create enthusiasm.

7. Continue to monitor and optimize

Your business is constantly growing and evolving, meaning your energy needs to keep up. That’s why, you should continue checking on your goals to ensure they still accurately reflect the direction you want to head in. Remember to reassess your progress at least every quarter to see which changes are working and which might need reexamination or external help.

Explore whether there are new solutions available or new incentives or programs that might be a good fit. As technology evolves, there may be new offerings to integrate into your business. Perhaps there is a new government program that can help you upgrade your energy infrastructure more quickly or gain more insight into your energy use. If you have expanded into new locations or markets, that can have a dramatic effect on your energy use since each state and province have different energy suppliers and regulations.

A corporate commitment to make energy a critical component of operations and future decisions will trickle down not only to your staff but to your customers, investors, and other stakeholders. A solid energy plan can help your business use less, spend less, and waste less.

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