Historically, many businesses viewed energy as an uncontrollable operating cost. Now though, more companies than ever before, recognise energy management as a business opportunity. There is a growing realisation in the corporate world that the responsible use of energy has an array of business benefits. These benefits are not restricted to cost reduction, although it is an important one. By demonstrating a commitment to energy management with a firm energy policy, businesses can also improve relations with external stakeholders, including investors, customers and the local community. Check out our post on the top benefits of energy efficiency for businesses to find out more.
You may have specific reasons for wanting to take your energy management to the next level. You may want to reduce your businesses operating costs. Or perhaps you want to reap the environmental and societal benefits of business energy management? These are all valid reasons. Remember though, effective energy management takes proper planning and execution. This is where an energy policy comes in. An energy management policy should set out your organisation's aims and goals concerning energy use and management. Your policy should be a public statement about your business energy management goals that can appear in documents or on your website. Importantly, your energy policy doesn't have to be long and complicated. Keeping it simple will make it easier to communicate and follow effectively.
If your considering making energy management a bigger business priority, then you're in the right place. This article will cover the main components of a solid business energy policy. We've even thrown in a template for you to go and make one for yourself!
Creating An Effective Energy Policy
Your businesses energy policy should establish senior management commitment to energy performance improvement and state your organisation's main energy priorities. Your policy must be well-documented and easy to read so that all employees, suppliers and customers can understand it. At Surple, we believe that a robust energy policy should cover three key areas: commitment, objectives and immediate aims. We'll cover each of these areas in more detail below.
Your commitment should be a short, one-sentence statement about your organisation's pledge to energy management and ongoing energy improvement. It's essential to ensure that all key stakeholders have been engaged with and believe in this statement. If you haven't got stakeholder buy-in, it will be almost impossible to put into practice. An example of a commitment could be:
"We are committed to responsible energy consumption and will practice energy efficiency throughout all of our sites and equipment, wherever it's cost-effective."
In this section, you should go into more detail about your high-level energy management objectives. Your long-term goals could be to buy energy at the most economical cost, for example. Or maybe to reduce the environmental impact caused by your energy consumption. Many businesses are investing in renewables nowadays, so it could even be to reduce your organisation's dependence on fossil fuels with on-site generation and renewable energy. Your long-term objectives don't need to have an end date associated with them. They should be constant. Everything your company undertakes in terms of energy management should align with at least one of your long-term objectives. Remember to set realistic and achievable aspirations. For example, you could commit to reducing the environmental impact of your energy use by switching to a renewable energy supplier. But, this might not be possible if you are tied into a long-term energy contract.
The DVLA kept their energy policy simple by outlining three main objectives. These are to:
- Minimise greenhouse gas emissions
- Reduce energy costs
- Become more energy efficient
This section should be a bit more detailed than your objectives. Here you should list some of the specific activities your business will undertake to achieve your objectives. Your immediate aims should have a date associated with them. It doesn't have to be exact but should give a rough idea of when you hope to achieve your goals. For example, if your objective is to reduce the environmental impact of your energy consumption, an immediate aim could be to switch to a renewable energy supplier by the end of the year. Other potential aims include:
- To appoint an energy manager by the end of the year
- To invest in energy management software by the end of Q3
The energy team at Cardiff Airport illustrate some of their energy-related aims powerfully in their Environmental Flight Path document. Notice how each aim has a rough date associated with it? For example, they've committed to 'commission and install a Solar PV farm on the Airport site' by Q4 2020.
More and more businesses are beginning to understand the variety of benefits associated with energy management. At Surple, we believe that putting an energy policy in place is the best way to get started on your energy-saving journey. Remember, like any other business policy, you should review it regularly. It's best practice to conduct an annual review to ensure that your company's current activities and energy policy are still aligned. Click the link below to download our energy policy template that you can adapt for your own business to get started today.
When you've created your policy, it's time to put it in action. To do this, we recommend creating an energy management strategy. An energy management strategy is more detailed than your energy policy. It should establish key roles and responsibilities, levels of funding and specific deliverables such as action plans, reporting and communication. When you get started with yours, check out our top tips for creating an effective business energy strategy. Whether your goals are financial or environmental, these tips will help you put together and implement your energy strategy in a way that results in the most significant benefits.
Further reading: Energy Management Guide For Businesses »