The link between corporate sustainability and energy management
Working in the Energy and Sustainability Services division of Schneider Electric, a question I get asked often is how are sustainability and energy management linked?
My last post discussed how energy management can significantly reduce costs, and how these savings can be used to pay for sustainability initiatives that that may have less measurable payback metrics. This post will discuss further how these programs differ, and why it is important for them to be connected.
What is corporate sustainability?
A perfectly sustainable business would have zero waste and would require zero input outside of growth. While this is not feasible for most organizations, the focus of corporate sustainability is to improve existing processes. Sustainability is an umbrella term that covers a number functions within an organization. The following graphic shows the high level functions that corporate sustainability touches.
Of all the areas of corporate sustainability, energy management has the highest return on investment, making it a very important piece of this big picture. Corporate sustainability programs have a compelling ROI, such as increasing sales and overall financial performance, but the effects are not as immediate as the results of energy management programs.
Mission, Scope and History
Energy management and sustainability programs differ in terms of mission, scope and how established they are in an organization. Understanding these differences can help teams communicate.
Better together: energy management and sustainability programs
Both energy management and corporate sustainability programs lead to organizational efficiency, as they are both based on a foundation of continuous improvement. They are mutually beneficial; sustainability teams can be a positive influence on energy management to encourage looking beyond immediate cost reductions and invest in initiatives like renewable technologies. The energy management team can provide practical solutions to the sustainability team to reduce energy that contributes to an overall reduction of carbon emissions.
Working together, these teams can address all aspects of energy demand, energy supply and sustainability to ensure an organization reaches its potential efficiency, maximizes cost savings, decreases its environmental footprint, and builds transparency with its stakeholders.
I would love to hear comments from readers, how do you think these programs are connected? What can we do to further integrate the programs for maximum impact?