Meeting the challenges of taking people on the energy-saving journey
In some jobs, doing the work and hitting your targets is only half the story. As an energy manager, a key challenge for me is also getting all those my role impacts to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing – and support me in that process. When this affects practically everyone in the business, that’s no easy task…
For example, matching a building’s heating, lighting and coffee machine operating times to working hours may sound sensible. But people can work late or start early – and then such basic energy efficiency measures can be perceived as a ‘nuisance’ factor.
Understanding people’s needs is therefore key – only then can you hope they’ll join you on the energy-saving journey. But with so many ‘stakeholders’ in any organisation, knowing the best way to go about this can be complex. That’s why I find communication a vitally important part of my role. And also why I’ve found the framework offered by ISO 50001 helpful when looking to successfully implement energy efficiency measures and projects across the npower estate.
Working to international standards can be viewed by some as time consuming and unnecessarily complex. This might explain why npower is the first of the big six, as far as I’m aware, to gain ISO 50001 accreditation for best practice in energy management. But as well as showing that we are indeed making progress in this area, it also provides a helpful framework to guide continuous improvement, so we keep moving forward.
I can’t underestimate the value of working to a strategic model to help you stay on track. ISO 50001 offers a ‘Plan Do Check Act’ structure that lets you scope then monitor and review each action to ensure it delivers the results you hope for. Other key areas focus attention on setting policy, targets and management commitment to ensure you have the necessary foundations and systems in place to make your energy management strategy effective.
The communication and training elements of the Standard are designed to address the vital ‘journey’ challenge. A process lets you see how all the people within your business fit into the management system – from the staff working in the buildings, to the cleaners and security guards who can often be unwilling guardians of out-of-hours energy use, to the facilities managers whose prime motivation may be occupant comfort at the expense of energy optimisation. Appropriate engagement and education can then be targeted to each audience, with understanding and empowerment the ultimate goal.
So does it work? We are achieving double digit savings in both energy consumption and carbon emissions, using the same products and services we provide to our customers. We are also managing our capital investment wisely by making use of in-house expertise on demand management, energy efficient lighting, solar PV and more.
As Professor Jan Uwe Lieback of the accredited certification company GUTcert said when presenting our ISO 50001 certificate in Berlin in early December: “npower leads with its example and convinces its customers with its own results”. A similar sentiment was expressed by the judges at the 2013 Energy Awards, when they presented npower with the Excellence in Carbon Reduction award the same week. After a busy year, accolades like these are a real boost – and a very welcome endorsement for everyone on the energy-saving journey.
Wayne Mitchell will be back in the new year with our next blog on 2 January 2014. For now though, everyone in the Industrial & Commercial team at npower wishes you a very happy Christmas.