Six Ways Running a Marathon is like Reducing Energy OpEx

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I’m not a marathon runner, but I have always been awed by the dedication and ability these people have to run such long distances. Recently I told my cousin – a seasoned marathon runner – about my company, Schneider Electric, being the Title Sponsor for the upcoming Paris Marathon on April 7th. As he talked about all the preparation and work required to run a marathon, he kept referring to “saving his energy while he ran.” I thought, “That’s a lot like energy management in an organization.” I quickly realized the two have more in common than we might think. Here are six ways that running a marathon is like reducing energy OpEx in a company.

1. Make a plan.

For runners and organizations, building a successful plan is the first step to achieving success.

A marathon runner needs a thorough training plan that includes a workout schedule, a running schedule to include paced/long/tempo/group/hill running, simulated race conditions, strides, drills, stretches, a healthy diet, rest days, and more.

An organization needs an intelligent energy plan that includes sustainability roadmaps, Energy Star/LEED assessments, energy market intelligence, and energy rebates/incentive support.

For an organization, pulling all this together may seem intimidating. But getting started is easy with tools like this interactive Energy Management Life Cycle Tool, where you can quickly calculate your company’s energy savings potential. Solutions such as automation, control, and monitoring can result in savings of up to 30%.

2. Get a coach.

Coaches are essential for keeping you on track and helping you through the rough spots, whether you’re a runner or an organization.

A marathon runner needs a skilled coach – a trusted marathon expert. The coach ensures daily workouts are appropriate, runs are at the right length/pace, diet is appropriate, clothing is right, and mental preparedness is maintained.

An organization needs a coach too – a trusted energy management services (EMS) expert. Your EMS coach (or consultant in the business world) will conduct energy sourcing, budget development, rate & tariff analysis, demand response, and risk management. Your EMS partner also ensures that your energy plan is followed, throughout the life cycle of your building.

This coaching – in both instances – is sure to be a huge catalyst to a plan’s success.

3. Train, train, train!

Training is non-negotiable for marathon runners to successfully (and safely) complete the race. For an organization, training its people on energy efficiency is just as important. Training also comes in the form of auditing.

A marathon runner must train in several ways – not just the act of running. Training also includes learning how to breathe, how to stride, how/when/what to eat, what to wear, when to rest, how to perform in different weather conditions, and so on. All of this training helps a runner save energy.

An organization must train too. Human behavior plays an enormous role in energy consumption – training employees on the importance of energy efficiency for the company and our world, and practicing it in the workplace, has a direct impact on hitting energy targets. To support this training, energy audits should be conducted regularly as they will provide proof points to employees as well as important information gathering to the energy or facility manager.

Training is the path to sustaining desired results. For marathon runners, this means improving their time in future races. For an organization, this means improving ROI year after year.

4. Take control.

Learning how to control, and maintaining that control, is key to energy savings.

A marathon runner must control his/her body. This means controlling the pace, breathing, strides, and mind in order to conserve physical energy.

An organization must control its energy consuming operations. This means controlling the power, HVAC, and electrical energy sources through measures such as metering design & commissioning, energy monitoring, etc. Without energy control you can’t have energy savings.

If you learn to control your energy – in your body or in your company – your energy savings plan is almost fool-proof.

5. Measure performance.

At the end of the day, how are you performing? This is the real question.

A marathon runner must monitor performance throughout the entire training plan. It’s the only way to track progress and identify areas to improve. It’s also the only way to ensure staying on track to successfully complete the marathon & meet the finishing time goal.

An organization must monitor performance as well. This is done through energy reporting, performance assurance, energy/carbon reporting, and data analysis. It allows executives to see how well the energy plan is working – and if they’re meeting energy & reduced OpEx targets.

Only by constantly measuring performance can you determine the success of your energy savings plan. Your performance sets the bar for your next set of goals – whether they are for your next marathon or next year’s bottom line.

6. Continually improve.

Once you’ve implemented your energy savings plan, the next challenge is to optimize it.

A marathon runner must optimize his performance each time he trains – run a mile longer, eat less fat, rest longer to allow the body to heal, etc. And runners who race in several marathons must optimize their finish time, in order to progressively improve. Optimizing performance isn’t possible without saving energy at every step.

An organization must optimize its infrastructure. Efficiency upgrades, performance contracting, HVAC retrofits, and renewable energy solutions allow companies to minimize energy consumption, maximize energy efficiency, and optimize energy savings.

By optimizing energy savings measures you continually improve your energy savings plan – and sustain your energy savings results.

Like a marathon, managing energy effectively means being in it for the long run. What is your plan to finish the EMS marathon? 


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