Often the stewards of a company’s utility expenditures have the title “Energy Manager” and their primary responsibility is managing the energy utilities, typically electricity and natural gas. Good “sustainability” practices tell us that effective utility management involves paying close attention to other utilities such as water/sewer and solid waste. Superior management of these utilities helps the environment while reducing your cost. Accordingly, reducing usage on any of these four utilities will reduce your carbon footprint and your impact on the environment. 

Essential elements of a good programiStock_000006331911_low

To be successful year after year a good utility management program must contain:

  • Centralized utility management and an internal process to implement opportunities  quickly

  • Annual Strategy with specific goals and objectives

  • Utility Tracking and Reporting System

  • Opportunities to reduce usage

  • Occasions to lessen cost

  • Market Intelligence

Centralized utility management

A good program has an individual or a team that has the responsibility of handling the overall management of utility expenditures. They are not necessarily the implementers of the corporate strategy but definitely the overseer and decide how to proceed. You do not want, however, a facility manager that has purchasing power on their own or contracting to do lighting upgrades.There must be someone to set the utility management direction and to make sure everyone follows the set plan.

Likewise, internally the process to implement any part of the utility management program must be understood and easily followed so that opportunities as they arise can be taken advantage of.

iStock_000010874645_lowAnnual Strategy with goals and objectives

Your program must have an annual strategy that lays out the opportunities you expect to pursue and the expected results. The plan should outline the steps required to reach your objectives and note the owners of each step of the process. The strategy should be reasonable, measurable and obtainable. Don’t set objectives that are impossible to reach or you are setting up your team to fail. Similarily, your strategy should be reviewed and updated from time to time during the year as market conditions change.

 Utility Tracking and Reporting System

For a program to be effective you need to be able to monitor results of your efforts. To do so effectively, most managers have turned to third party bill payment platforms to process their utility invoices. These third parties typically send information gleaned off of the invoices within 24 hours upon receiving the bills; the utility manager can then use the bill payment website to review any invoice and to run reports to see the progress towards their goals. This is much more effective than relying on getting the information out of their accounts payable department.

Look for opportunities to reduce usage

Reducing usage could mean a number of things. Most often clients look at reducing usage by installing energy efficiency measures or reducing hours of operation. But it also means reducing the usage that the utility is “billing” you for. For example, if you start a recycling program then the amount of waste going to landfill is reduced. Or, if you use water onsite for either production purposes or landscaping installing, a “sewer deduct” meter could possibly reduce the amount of sewer volume you are being charged for.

Look for occasions to lessen costiStock_000016701854_low

Most often this is the part of the utility management strategy that is most well-known, or that has been implemented most often. Sometimes this is the only element of a firm’s utility management program. This includes shopping for electricity or natural gas, or looking for rate change opportunities with each respective utility. In addition, opportunities to take advantage of demand response programs or alternative energy credits could be pursued. With the onset of energy saving technology and environmental consciousness reaching a higher level, utility managers are easily able to find ways and means to lessen costs.

Market Watch

For your program to be effective you also need to stay on top of market opportunities or threats. Changes relative to Smart Metering, Rates, or Energy Efficiency can all cost or save you money depending on how you are affected and how you react.

Where do you stand on Utility Management?

Of course, simple economics of total utility spend and possible rewards will determine where your efforts are best spent and where help is needed. FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) is an expert in implementing world class sustainability programs and can help you put together and implement a superior utility management program to maximize your results.For more information, or to speak to an energy expert, click on the link below.

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