The Journey to Energy Savings Begins with a Few Steps

Patrick Jones, Senior Director Product Management, Expense and Data Management at ENGIE Insight

ENGIE Insight (formerly Ecova) and IMA (The Institute of Management Accountants) recently partnered to present an “Inside Talk” webinar to more than 1,000 finance professionals on The Energy Journey: How to Reduce Energy Spending and Drive Long Term Impact.” We were thrilled to have such a great turnout of people from a range of businesses that are all on different parts of their energy journey. Our guest client, GameStop, proved that an energy background or even energy expertise is not required to make a positive impact on your bottom line and our poll questions revealed that many attendees are looking for ways to get started, or progress on their energy journey. Here are a few steps for identifying a starting point and driving positive impact and savings further down-stream.

Build a Foundation of Actionable Data to Drive Immediate and Long-Term Savings

Our first poll question asked, “How confident are you in how your company is currently capturing data from within energy, waste, and water bills?”

The majority of responses were split between moderate at 38% (‘we do alright, but I’d like more detailed or accurate data’) and low at 34% (‘we’re limited in the level of data capture from these sources’). Only about 12% ranked their company as having high confidence in data capture.

IMA Monitoring GraphicBig data is here, and you already have it—data comes into your company from your utility bills, electric smart meter, equipment meters, weather sensors, and energy management systems. The new Internet of Things (IoT) connects all of our devices – in fact, Gartner estimates that by 2020, 25 billion ‘things’ will be connected to the Internet and feeding you data. So, you have the data, but it’s imperative to develop a good system to collect, analyze, and normalize all of it. With this accurate site consumption data, you’ll be able to look for anomalies, assess significant usage changes, and determine where to focus projects with the greatest returns.

Leverage Benchmarked Data to Uncover Opportunities to Save

In our second poll question, we asked the audience, “How well do you feel that your company is utilizing benchmarked resource data to drive energy, waste and water cost savings?”

The majority (42%) responded not well (‘we’re not utilizing data to drive savings and strategy’). Only 9.2% of respondents selected very well (‘we’re using this data to drive savings and strategy’).

Good, normalized data allows companies to pinpoint inefficiencies and understand how they are using energy over time. Multi-site companies may compare peer sites to analyze trends and identify outliers. Companies without peer sites can analyze year-over-year use to identify “drift” or trending usage changes over time.

Pay attention to those significant changes and ask questions. When there’s an outlier, determine if it’s rate or usage related. If it’s usage, was there a weather impact or is it due to operating procedures in the facility? This will help you determine if it is merely an anomaly or a trend that needs to be addressed.

Consider Emerging Technologies to Drive Deeper Visibility and Savings

Our third poll question asked attendees, “Which emerging technology has your company looked at to drive efficiencies and energy cost savings?” and we received a wide range of answers.

  • 22% On-site renewables (solar, battery, etc.)
  • 5% Real-time building sensors
  • 2% Proactive building and sensor monitoring
  • 3 % None of the above
  • 9% I don’t know

Many companies are still very unsure of how to leverage new technologies to drive energy savings. While the majority utilize energy management systems, few are using them to their full potential. It takes a lot of time and knowledge to understand data from EMS and continually monitor the thousands of alarms that occur each week. Many companies are cultivating their own experts to fill this need or seeking out third parties, like ENGIE Insight, to monitor multiple sites. Utilizing EMS properly helps spot usage anomalies and identify assets that need repair or replacement, which helps curtail maintenance expenses.

Overcoming Internal Barriers to Cost-Savings Initiatives

Our fourth and final poll question was, “What is the biggest barrier that you face when it comes to introducing cost-savings initiatives for energy, waste and water resources?”

The number one response (34.1%) was ‘identifying a starting point’ while 32.3% cited ‘lack of accurate data’ and 17.1% said they ‘lacked executive buy-in.’ It’s true that just figuring where to start can be the biggest obstacle to an energy journey. GameStop, a global retailer of video games, pop culture and wireless services, was also in the same position.

Energy Savings startAmanda Whitley, Buyer, Global Commodity for GameStop shared a page from her work journal. “My journey to energy savings started with a bunch of rainbow Post-It notes on the first day of my job,” she laughed. “And my experience as an energy expert was paying my electric bill at home—everything that followed was self-taught.”

Amanda encouraged webinar attendees that you don’t need experience in the energy field to get great results for your company—again, it starts with great data, which GameStop had by partnering with ENGIE Insight for expense and data management. “ENGIE Insight helped me leverage our data to build a case for energy management and get people to listen.”

Energy Savings, Power to the PlanetGameStop started by getting company-wide buy-in for energy savings under a unified message: “Power to the Planet.” Amanda found that cost savings were important to upper management, and she worked to make the data more meaningful by equating energy savings to profit (e.g., energy savings = number of video games sold). She also learned that field teams wanted the opportunity to make a difference in the company and have their voices heard.

The company soon established guidelines for energy saving behaviors and educated store associates on what to do in stores and even at home. They also invited associates at every level of the company to send in their ideas for how the company could do even more, and to date, they’ve received more than 300 ideas that could represent an additional 6 percent reduction in energy usage over the next three years.

GameStop has reduced energy usage by 3 million kWh year-over-year since the initiative launched. Organizationally, there is now a better belief in a corporate culture of sustainability at every level.

Webinars like this are a great way to learn from other companies and know that you are not alone on your energy journey. Thank you to the 1,000+ attendees and a big thank you to IMA for hosting. If you’d like to view the entire recording, just click here.

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