Jake Hiller | June 19, 2013
There was such great interest in the webinar “Getting to the Bottom Line of Energy Efficiency Investments,” that we are sharing a series of Q & A with Jake Hiller, Project Development Analyst for Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
This second post focuses in on energy data and the best practices EDF Climate Corps participants have employed to cash in on energy savings.
Q: How do companies use energy data to inform decisions, and at what level and granularity?
A: Energy managers need to be supported by data that is sufficiently comprehensive and detailed to give them the information to make good decisions, but not so much data that it creates noise or overwhelms the manager’s capacity to analyze it and effectively use it.
As the old mantra goes, “You can't manage what you don't measure." Data allow managers to identify projects, quantify the financial and environmental benefits of those projects and track the value created after the projects are implemented. Whether it is through a simple spreadsheet or complex energy management software, more and more building managers are beginning to monitor their buildings’ annual resource consumption. Here are five steps for successful energy data collection.
- Start with a baseline analysis. If you are just getting started, a baseline of the existing available data must be conducted to figure out where the gaps are and what actions need to be done to fill them. If you don’t have significant facility or equipment level metering in place, you can start by looking at high level trends in utility bill history to identify highest priority opportunities first and then choose where to conduct more detailed energy audits of those facilities.
- Find software to fit your needs. Software tools can be extremely helpful in centralizing data and putting them into a form useful for making decisions. For tools to be successful, however, they need to be supported by the right people, effective reporting mechanisms, integrated with the processes already in use by facility managers, and fit well with the organizational culture to ensure that the tools are actually used consistently. In 2010, Genzyme’s EDF Climate Corps fellow, Eva Zlotnicka, blogged about identifying a software tool that would work well within that company’s organizational culture.
- Leverage initial wins. The granularity of data needed depends on the project in question and more broadly on the organization’s stage of developing its energy management approach. The ultimate goal is an ability to address the organization’s building portfolio comprehensively, supported by enough detail to gain insight into individual facilities to find specific opportunities. Leading organizations leverage initial wins to invest in increasingly sophisticated tools for collecting data so that more and more opportunities can be identified over time using more detailed metering.
- Divide resources between data collection and implementation. Organizations need to be strategic in deciding how to divide their resources over time between investing resources in more sophisticated data collection and in actually completing the projects identified by those data. If done the right way, the two should reinforce each other.
- Track and report success stories. Using data to track energy savings is key: measuring and verifying results is the basis for sharing stories that re-engage executives, demonstrate value created, and justify additional resource investment to grow the energy management program and do more projects. It is a crucial component in keeping The Virtuous Cycle of Organizational Energy Efficiency turning.
This content is also being published on ENERNOC's EnergySMART blog.
About EDF Climate Corps
EDF Climate Corps (edfclimatecorps.org) taps the talents of tomorrow’s leaders to save energy, money and the environment by placing specially-trained EDF fellows in companies, cities and universities as dedicated energy problem solvers. Working with hundreds of leading organizations, EDF Climate Corps has found an average of $1 million in energy savings for each participant. For more information, visit edfclimatecorps.org. Read our blog at edfclimatecorps.org/blog. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/edfbiz and on Facebook at facebook.com/EDFClimateCorps.