Energy management: 7 steps

Not every organization has a lot of time and resources to invest in energy management, so we've taken out the guesswork and developed a straightforward, step-by-step guide to help decision makers in the buildings sector improve the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings.

Step 1: Make a commitment and change your thinking

To become more energy efficient, your organization will have to accept some changes and make a commitment to follow through. These changes may be technological (adopting a new technology), behavioural (encouraging employees to be more energy-conscious) or organizational (instituting company-wide energy efficiency policies). To achieve the best results, you'll need all three.

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Step 2: Assess your performance

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Setting goals for energy performance is another benefit made possible by benchmarking a building's energy use, and can be as detailed or as simple as the building operator chooses.

Use your utility bills to start tracking your energy use through benchmarking. Benchmark your building against others by comparing energy intensity (gigajoules per square metre). Make sure you're benchmarking against similar buildings, as different building uses and types can legitimately have very different energy intensity profiles. Next, hire a firm to perform an energy audit to get a more detailed picture of exactly how your building uses energy. This will give you a starting point to compare your progress over time and to establish realistic goals in Step 3.

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Step 3: Set goals

Setting goals to improve the energy performance of your building is key to establishing and maintaining momentum on your energy management activities. Your initiative will be more effective if it is based on clear, realistic goals and targets.

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Step 4: Create an action plan

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Without a solid plan, your goals are just dreams. You will be much more likely to achieve your goals if you develop a comprehensive plan that includes behavioural, organizational and technological components. Energy monitoring and benchmarking should be key elements of your plan, but the plan should also outline systematic processes to implement employee awareness training, energy management training, and required equipment adjustments or upgrades. It should also include details on how the proposed measures will be financed, whether low-cost/no-cost initiatives will fund more expensive projects later or upfront capital will need to be set aside or acquired.

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Step 5: Enact your plan

Once your plan is in place, it's time to act. Maintain open communication among all involved parties to ensure that everyone knows what's going on and what they're supposed to be doing. Request regular progress updates and consider creating a newsletter or other mechanism to keep all your building occupants informed. Make sure that everyone in your organization has access to the knowledge and training they need to make your plan a success and create incentives to motivate staff to stay interested and involved.

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Step 6: Evaluate and adjust

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Use your energy benchmarking data to compare your performance with your established goals. Based on this information, you can review your plan and amend it as necessary. Get feedback from your staff to identify the best practices that will ensure that your energy performance continues to improve, as well as any measures that have proven ineffective and should be discontinued or altered. As you meet your goals, set new ones that challenge you to become even more energy efficient.

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Step 7: Celebrate your success

Be proud of yourself when you achieve your targets, and share your results with your employees, investors and other stakeholders. Acknowledge and reward those whose contributions have helped you achieve your goals. Consider applying for green building certification or other official recognition so that your success can inspire others.

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