Energy Management steps (STEP 5: Implement Action Plan)
In the previous articles we discussed the first four steps to build energy management system in your organization and before that we clarified why you need to be a proactive energy manager. You can refer to the previous articles at the end of this article.
In this article we will discuss the fifth step which is implement action plan.
STEP 5: Implement Action Plan
People can make or break an energy program. Gaining the support and cooperation of key people at different levels within the organization is an important factor for successful action plan implementation in many organizations. In addition, reaching your goals frequently depends on the awareness, commitment, and capability of the people who will implement the projects.
To implement your action plan, consider taking the following steps:
5.1 Create a communication plan
- Develop targeted information for key audiences about your energy management program and this requires careful planning and implementation.
To communicate strategically, you will need to identify key audiences, determine the information that they need, and adapt your messages appropriately for each one.
5.2: Raise Awareness
- The target is to build support at all levels of your organisation for energy management initiatives and goals.
- Everyone has a role in energy management. Effective programs make employees, managers, and other key stakeholders aware of energy performance goals and initiatives, as well as their responsibility in carrying out the program.
- Communication strategies and materials for raising awareness of energy use, goals and impacts should be tailored to the needs of the intended audience. To raise awareness, consider doing the following:
- Increase general energy awareness
- Most people are unaware of how their everyday actions and activities at home and work affect energy use and impact the environment. Increasing overall awareness can be an effective way to gain greater support for energy initiatives.
- Increasing general awareness of energy use can be accomplished through:
- New employee orientation programs – Provide basic information on organisational and individual energy use to new employees.
- Poster campaigns – Develop attractive and informative posters for break rooms, bulletin boards, etc., that discuss energy use.
- Earth Day events – April 22 is Earth Day and provides an appropriate context for increasing awareness of the environmental impacts from energy use and how to reduce these impacts through everyday actions at work and home.
- Intra and Internet sites – Publish information on energy use, environmental impacts, and energy-saving options geared towards a general audience on your organisation’s web site or intranet site.
Fairs and summits – Conduct an energy fair or summit oriented towards employees with information on energy saving activities and products. October is Energy Awareness month and is a perfect opportunity for this.
- Improve facility energy awareness
- Individuals working in or even managing a facility may have little understanding of the energy performance of the facility or its impact on the organisation and environment. Targeted efforts designed to increase awareness of facility energy use can help build support for energy management programs.
- Like general awareness efforts, facility-oriented energy awareness can take many forms. In developing facility energy awareness programs, consider using the following types of information:
- Summary statistics – Use general facility energy facts and figures, such as overall energy costs, costs to operate equipment, environmental information related to energy use, and so on.
- Sources of energy – Most people do not know how the energy they use is generated. Providing information on the sources of energy used at your facility along with the associated pollution that results from its use could increase awareness of the environmental aspects of energy use.
- Energy use of equipment – Provide information on the energy performance of equipment or processes that employees regularly use as part of their jobs. For example, most employees probably do not know how much energy their computer uses during the day and how much that costs the organisation when it is on, but not in use.
Scorecards- Develop charts and graphics that illustrate energy performance across your organisation or compare it to a national standard.
- Gain management support
- Frequently, managers who are not directly involved in energy management are not aware of how energy use effects the organisation. Increasing the awareness of managers can help to build support for energy management initiatives.
Keys steps include:
- Identify key audiences, such as: Executive management, Facilities managers, Operations managers, Purchasing officers and procurement staff, Communications and marketing staff.
- Tailor the information to address the chief concerns of each audience, such as cost of energy per pound of product, or cost per square foot of building space.
- Determine the most effective way to communicate with each audience. This could range from a presentation, to a memo, or an informal meeting.
- Maintain regular contact to keep managers up-to-date on progress or changes in performance.
5.3: Build Capacity
Investing in training and systems to share successful practices helps ensure the success of the action plan by building the overall organisational capacity. Many organisations have found that informed employees are more likely to contribute ideas, operate equipment properly, and follow procedures, helping to guarantee that capital investments in energy improvements will realise their potential.
- Using training to help staff understand the importance of energy performance provides the information necessary to make informed decisions. Training also provides an excellent opportunity for gathering employee feedback and evaluations.
- The type and nature of training will vary by organisation and your specific action plan. Common training programs include:
- Operational and procedural training — Provides instruction on new operating methods or procedures designed to reduce energy use. Such training is typically targeted towards specific audiences, such as facility managers, operations, and maintenance staff.
- Administrative training — Includes reporting, monitoring, data collection, and other administrative efforts that support energy management.
Specialised training — Gives specific instructions on using and maintaining equipment or tools to ensure more efficient operation.
Knowledge and Management Information Systems
- Computer-based information systems provide a robust means for sharing information on best practices, technologies, and operational guidance. While these systems can range from complex databases to a simple intranet site, they are a centralised and accessible place to store and transfer energy management information within an organisation.
- Knowledge & Management Information Systems are usually organisation -specific. They typically include information on:
- Best practices — Catalogs successful and effective practices for energy management within an organisation.
- Technologies — Contains information on known, used, or recommended technologies, equipment, lighting, HVAC, and so on.
- Procedures — Houses up-to-date information on specific procedures and operating practices.
- Offering incentives for energy management is one way many organisations create interest in energy initiatives and foster a sense of ownership among employees.
- Examples of how organisations motivate staff and employees include:
- Internal competition — Use tracking sheets, scorecards, etc. to compare performance of similar facilities and foster a sense of competition.
- Recognition — Highlight and reward accomplishments of individuals, departments, and facilities.
- Financial bonus and prizes — Offer cash bonuses and other rewards if goals are met.
- Environmental responsibility — Use environmental messages to promote a sense of environmental and social responsibility.
- Financial responsibility — Use financial messages to promote a sense of fiduciary responsibility.
- Performance standards — Tie employee performance standards to energy goals.
5.5: Track & Monitor
- A tracking system is the means by which an energy program’s activities are monitored. The system should be centralised and available for all to use in gauging progress toward established targets, milestones, and deadlines.
- Maintaining a tracking system enables you to assess necessary steps, corrective actions, and identify successes. Periodic review of the activities outlined in the action plan is critical to meet energy performance goals.
- The steps below focus on using your tracking system to advance the goals of the energy management program:
- Perform regular updates – A system is only effective if the information it contains is current and comprehensive. Data needs to be collected and incorporated into the system at an interval of time effective to the program. Many organisations perform weekly and monthly updates to their tracking systems.
- Conduct periodic reviews – Periodic reviews of your progress in meeting interim goals and milestones should be conducted with the management team, the energy team, and selected groups of employees. The frequency of these reviews will vary depending upon the audience.
- Such reviews should focus on progress made, problems encountered, and potential rewards.
- Identify necessary corrective actions – A tracking system is a good way to determine whether a program is performing well. It will help identify when a specific activity is not meeting its expected performance and is in need of review.