Strategic Energy Management for Commercial Buildings: Five Key Areas

Diane Levin

Energy efficiency depends as much on the people within commercial buildings as the facilities and equipment they use. To achieve long-term reductions in energy usage, utilities and businesses need to look beyond standard retrofits. Integrating sustainability and energy efficiency into the ongoing operations of a business requires strategic energy management.

In working with retail energy clients as well as the utilities that serve them, Ecova has developed a framework-based approach to strategic energy management that gives businesses an actionable roadmap, with data-driven objectives and continual improvement.

I recently presented this framework-based approach at the ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings (this was one of five papers that Ecova team members presented at the conference). You can read this research paper in its entirety on our website here. Today’s blog summarizes the key points of this methodology.


To implement lasting change, you need to focus efforts along multiple fronts. The Ecova framework outlines five “keystones” of strategic energy management, each of which should be part of the ongoing plan.


A systematic approach to energy management requires a strong foundation in data. Best practices around data include portfolio/asset data management and benchmarking.


A successful program starts with high-level commitment that filters throughout the organization. Creating cross-functional teams and performing ongoing outreach and communication are important strategies for engaging the people who are a critical part of the success of any plan.


Best practices in managing infrastructure and operations include auditing facilities and operations, developing plans for capital improvements, implementing remote monitoring and response, and changing operational protocols for energy efficiency.


Communicating with customers, shareholders and other stakeholders is essential to driving change. Reporting and communications can also enhance brand image and increase transparency.


With constant pressures on business operations as well as ongoing advances in energy management techniques, any energy management plan must includes measures for sustaining improvement. Best practices in this area include developing baselines, monitoring Key Performance Indicators, trending and forecasting, and analyzing scenarios.
The Ecova strategy outlines 21 best practices aligned with these keystones. While you may not be able to implement all of the best practices, working with each of the five key areas in parallel creates a data-driven, actionable roadmap to support long-term energy savings.

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