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Thought Leadership from Sieben Energy Associates

Why Should My Organization Hire an Energy Manager?

Organizations of all types—businesses, K-12 schools, healthcare, higher education, government, and light and heavy industry—are increasingly turning to an energy specialist to help them navigate diverse energy issues. Such specialized knowledge can be gained through an internal hire. But more and more organizations are choosing to engage an external consultant who focuses exclusively on energy matters to serve as their energy manager.

From the customer's perspective, energy has become a commodity that can be actively managed on both sides of the meter. Electricity and natural gas customers in many states have more say over how they use it (demand side of the meter) and how they source and buy it (supply side of the meter). The ability to exercise greater control over energy consumption is especially true for commercial and industrial customers that use large amounts of energy.​

Changes in the energy space in recent years now enable organizations to generate greater returns from their "energy investment." Such developments include:

  • Consolidation and cross-selling within the broader energy utility industry.
  • Falling commodity prices but rising transmission and transportation charges.
  • Utility incentives encouraging investment in efficiency projects to reduce energy use.
  • Advanced equipment and technologies for optimizing energy use.
  • Growing stakeholder pressure to improve sustainability metrics.

The business practice of turning to a niche specialist for almost every non-core area of operation is well-established. Similarly, engaging an energy expert in a professional consulting relationship can generate highly beneficial outcomes for the organization. Successful engagements have demonstrated improved cost management, infrastructure reliability, employee comfort and productivity, and organizational reputation.

In the June 2017 issue of Building Operating Management, Klaar de Schepper writes about the challenges of organizing and analyzing energy data in a pair of articles entitled "How to Get the Most Use Out of Energy Data" and "How Focused Data Use Analysis Leads to Energy Efficiency." De Schepper identifies the new tools available to assist in the process: "Among the variable costs involved in operating a facility, utilities—in particular energy and water—may be the largest expense…. Energy analysis, artificial intelligence, and internet integration are among the new tools being used to know what is used, when, and how much it costs."

Later, De Schepper acknowledges the truth that "once some interesting insights have been culled from utility bills, more detailed analysis will be desired." Energy data is collected today in various ways and at different levels of granularity, but organizations that want to maximize the results of their efforts need highly detailed and well-integrated data.

Data integration has historically been a complex problem for large organizations, but information technology is producing novel solutions. Dan Kabula and Justin Barstow discuss this point in the "Omniscience and Optimization" column of the June 2017 issue of Distributed Energy. Buildings consume 40% of energy on a global basis every year. But based on the authors' experience, "one-third of the energy used in a typical facility is unnecessary, and results from inefficient design, poorly functioning equipment, or outdated energy infrastructure technologies."

Under the headline "Cloud-Based Software Supports Energy Management," Kabula and Barstow describe cloud-based approaches to linking the demand and supply sides of the utility meter: "Incorporating the analysis of building energy performance data, along with occupant usage data, into a comprehensive energy management framework that includes demand side, supply side, and renewable energy strategy can ultimately help companies increase productivity and efficiency and reduce downtime and labor costs."

Most organizations don't have internal resources designated to address this level of energy management. Nor do they yet fully understand that energy use across their enterprise impacts their organization in a variety of ways that ultimately affect bottom line performance. But an organization's investment in energy-consuming infrastructure and the recurring expense flowing through the utility meter can be managed to deliver more than bottom-line benefits.

Retaining a professional energy consultant like Sieben Energy Associates can create significant value. Everybody in the organization may experience and enjoy the positive outcomes of a robust energy management program. We have worked with a nationally ranked pediatric healthcare provider to foster a culture of best-in-class energy management. Sieben Energy Associates helps organizations leverage their "energy investment" to become more efficient, more sustainable, and more productive.

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