Energy efficiency improvements are key to keeping global warming well below 2°C. However, they are a powerful business opportunity, allowing global companies to invest in ambitious smart energy solutions, and reap substantial energy and cost savings.
The IEA has listed increased energy efficiency in the industry, buildings and transport sectors as key to ensuring a climate-safe world. A multitude of energy efficiency measures can be implemented now – there is no excuse to not take action.
Following the success of its RE100 initiative, The Climate Group launched EP100 in partnership with the Alliance to Save Energy to facilitate companies taking such action by doubling their energy productivity. This metric reframes energy efficiency in terms of its broader, socio-economic and environmental benefits. Not only does energy productivity resonate in the boardroom; it also drives deeper behavioural changes at all levels within a business, ensuring that solutions are effective in the long term and that making smarter use of energy is integrated into the core of business strategy.
BUSINESS ACTION ON SMART ENERGY
With complete control of their own operations, companies are key to roll out smart energy solutions on the ground. A recent study found that just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions, making it clear that business leadership on climate action is a necessity.
Our original EP100 commitment asks companies to double their energy productivity within 25 years; however, to drive faster action and engage a wider group of companies on smart energy solutions, we recently introduced two new commitment pathways. These ask businesses to implement an energy management system across their facilities within 10 years, or commit to operate only net zero carbon buildings by 2030, with the latter led by the World Green Building Council.
To make real progress on energy efficiency. We need an inherent behavioural shift.. This behaviour shift can happen, if we start showing companies the long-term benefits and powerful business case for action on smart energy.
Through EP100, we focus on energy productivity, rather than the inverse – energy intensity.
This makes for a more compelling business case, and with 33 global companies now committed to EP100, the case for energy productivity is resonating across both developed and emerging markets alike.
BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES DRIVING ENERGY PRODUCTIVITY
Behavioural change is vital to improving energy productivity. The links between building quality and health are well documented, and many building certifications, such as the WELL Certification, now include health as a key element.
In 2017, EP100 member Landsec became the first workplace globally to achieve both WELL Certified Silver and BREEAM outstanding, setting a global benchmark for healthy, sustainable office space. Landsec’s project has driven an array of behavioural changes, primarily around employee productivity and collaboration, with staff sending 18% fewer internal emails, a 65% reduction in printing, and 90% of employees believing that the new environment has a positive effect on workplace culture.
As well as optimising energy use in buildings, manufacturing processes are another area for energy productivity measures to drive behavioural change. EP100 member Johnson Controls has taken a lead on integrating energy management systems into its manufacturing through ISO 50001, maximising visibility of energy consumption and enabling informed decisions around the implementation of new technologies and practices.
To engage staff in its energy efficiency journey, Johnson Controls established an “Energy Hunt” programme to empower local sites with the necessary knowledge and tools to identify and implement energy savings projects. Through this scheme, the company identified three times as many energy savings potentials as it had in the previous year. These changes were largely attributed to a shift in employee culture which brought down energy bills – Johnson Controls is reporting cost savings of over USD 100 million from a 2002 baseline after joining EP100 two years ago.
The urgent need for corporate action on smarter energy use is clear, and so is the path to achieving it.
Ambitious companies are stepping up on climate action by driving forward energy efficiency measures and reducing emissions in ways that make business sense. We now need more companies to commit to EP100, taking on the urgent task of improving their energy productivity to help accelerate the growth of clean energy systems across the globe.
By Grace GOSLING, Project Coordinator1, Corporate Initiatives, The Climate Group