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25 May 2011

The truth about energy management

Schneider Electric | www.schneider-electric.com

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O ver recent years, businesses have faced an increasing amount of pressure to improve and manage energy more efficiently. So what are the greatest challenges facing businesses when it comes to managing energy within an organisation?

“Much more needs to be done to encourage energy users to be more proactive ad thorough in their approach to energy management”

Over the past few years, businesses have been pushed more and more to manage their energy effectively to deliver carbon savings to create a sustainable future. Different legislations have been implemented to drive society towards a reduction in carbon, the most recent of which is the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme.

Even with all of the legislation, businesses are clearly still finding it hard to relate to carbon reduction. According to a recent study carried out by Schneider Electric - The Future of Energy Management in the UK - organisations are more concerned with saving money than tackling carbon emissions. The report suggests this is because saving money is something they can relate to, as opposed to reducing carbon which is often seen as a challenge for someone else to address.

Further to this, decision makers within businesses are unconvinced by the scientific evidence regarding climate change, and it is simply not seen as an important enough influence in a business's decision-making process. Adding to the despondency is the fact that climate change is seen as too big and too remote to be an effective driver for implementing an energy efficiency management program.

In addition to not relating to carbon emissions, there seems to be a general lack of awareness when it comes to policies and legislations. The report showed that only 20 percent of organisations are aware of Part L of the Building Regulations and less than half (42 percent) recognise the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

This is clearly a worrying trend for the government, which has implemented these to drive carbon reduction programmes and to set clear guidelines for a greener vision for the future. Perhaps the government has started to recognise this, which would offer an explanation for the renaming of the Carbon Reduction Commitment to the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme - in an attempt to ensure businesses can relate to the desired outcome of the legislation.

An additional problem lies in the fact that many organisations don't recognise the need to regularly improve energy management programmes. While many businesses do monitor energy (in fact, 70 percent according to the report), only a quarter have an energy management program. This highlights that while companies are taking the initial steps towards reducing energy, the commitment is not there to follow this through. The problem can be due to resource issues or lack of knowledge and understanding of what is required to implement a strategic approach to energy efficiency. It also suggests that much more needs to be done to encourage energy users to be more proactive and thorough in their approach to energy management.

Looking to the future, the report predicts that people will re-engage if cost reductions become the focus of the Government's agenda, as opposed to concentrating on emissions. Providing concise and clear guidelines on how businesses should implement their energy management strategies should help to effectively begin the process to adopt change for the future. Perhaps businesses need to feel as though their needs are the priority, as opposed to what the Government wants, in order to engage with the drive towards a greener society.

For more information, please visit www.schneider-electric.co.uk


David Lewis is a qualified engineer who subsequently also gained a Masters business degree and has worked at Schneider Electric since 1989. He has a broad knowledge base in electrical technology, marketing, commercial and manufacturing management, having started out working on HV applications and design. David is responsible for the marketing of the company's energy efficiency offer. David has a daughter and can be found supporting his local speedway team or relaxing with watercolours.

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