The Corporate Renewables Revolution is Coming—Are You Ready?

Grace Sweeney | Infocast Events

So, maybe your organization isn’t making the kind of sweeping pledges we’ve seen in the news as of late to reduce emissions, save the planet and cut energy costs all at the same time. More corporations from Google and Facebook to Macy’s, Walmart and Costco are getting into the clean energy game, integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into existing business strategies, as reliance on fossil fuel becomes increasingly unattractive for large swathes of the population.

If peer pressure from the growing ranks of businesses adopting clean energy goals hasn’t got you thinking green—it’s more than likely federal regulations are soon to change. If the EPA’s clean power plan passes, companies both big and small will need to drastically reduce carbon emissions and rethink the way facilities and retail stores are powered.

Regardless, supporting the environment is no longer exclusively hippie territory, which is why retailers, even those without as much brand recognition as say, Walmart or Target, need to jump on the bandwagon and come up with a holistic energy strategy. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 with an endless stream of resources or a ‘mom and pop’ retail chain, energy efficiency is no longer optional. Retailers of all sizes need to take steps toward the inevitable. Even if the EPA Clean Power Plan fails to pass, we’re sure to see more stringent environmental regulations in short order. Retailers, distributors and more will need to adopt granular insights into energy use, and from there, create a sustainable business plan that maximizes both efficiency and profitability.

The truth is, that day may be coming sooner than you might think, and you’ll need an energy management strategy in place.Here’s a relatively painless few ways to get started on the path toward “green business-hood”:

Start Small—Monitor Energy Usage One Piece at a Time 

Look. We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day. But think of this as a large scale version of that time you tried to change your eating habits; you won’t go from fast food junkie to raw vegan overnight. There are several things you can do to maximize efficiency without breaking the bank. Start by taking inventory of what you use, on a location by location basis. Does your organization use eco-friendly light bulbs? Are people turning off all unnecessary equipment when they leave? Are all pieces of equipment running efficiently, and up to code? All these things are important to find out sooner, rather than later—a recent example being Trader Joes, who settled a $500k lawsuit with the US government and agreed to reduce ozone-damaging coolant leaks in its stores’ refrigerators.

Chances are, your organization has a variety of appliances and devices in the space, all of which can be measured with sensor technology that clearly displays key data points in real time. With all the screens and servers we need to survive at this point in time, it’s no wonder consumption levels are at an all time high, and expected to increase every year for the foreseeable future.

As a result, energy managers should be tracking carbon emissions, energy consumption, and facility efficiency, as part of a standardized procedure. From there, you’ll need to establish metrics that keep regulatory compliance in check, enabling decision-making and compliance reporting.

Make Sustainability a Part of Your Corporate Culture

Culture plays a big role in affecting change and compelling a sense of ownership among employees. Sure, workplace culture seems like one of those soft intangibles, and your CFO might not be so keen on investing in making things work on a cultural level. But, organizational culture is one of those things, it’s really only palpable when it’s just not working.

As far as incorporating a sustainability strategy goes, culture will be your best friend in implementing the kind of changes that have global implications. When internal stakeholders share the same CSR goals, employees at every level will do their part to keep waste at a minimum and reduce the size of your collective carbon footprint.

It’s also worth noting that it’s becoming less desirable to work for organizations that do more harm than good for the environment.  Millennials, in particular are opting to work for companies with a conscience-those that are environmentally conscious and care for the communities in which they do business.

Identify patterns—Then Change Them

Gathering energy usage data is the first step toward gaining the insights needed to make improvements. But, once you’ve gathered that data, what you do with it? Analysis of the data is necessary to see exactly how energy is during operations, and how maintenance and operations can be optimized. Only with a centralized analytics platform can an organization draw the conclusions required to make smart decisions for future energy and process optimization.

Abide by Regulations

Regardless of your personal feelings regarding energy regulations—they exist for a reason. We’re going to go ahead and assume you don’t want to breathe in toxic air, or exacerbate rising global temperatures. Did you know that in the US, industrial and corporate level operations account for 45% percent of carbon emissions? Yes, regulations do pose some challenges for folks just trying to run a business, but once companies can get an idea of how much energy they use on both macro and micro levels, they can take a deeper dive and start thinking about how to save both money and energy.

Nonprofits like the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) and the Business Renewables Center are great resources for information on how to build sustainability into your corporate goals. These organizations are among the growing ranks of non-profits that exist in order to ease companies’ transition to renewables, as well as help utilities understand how they can better serve the growing demand for clean energy.

Attend Corporate Renewables 2016 and learn to take advantage of the various opportunities in renewable energy! The summit features an interactive workshop, Corporate Renewables 101 which provides everything you need to know about the energy procurement process.

Read more:

Growing Sophistication of the Renewable Energy Buyer

Business Renewables Center and RE100 Cement Partnership

Today’s Corporate Renewable Landscape—Where Do We Stand?

Tech Leads the Charge in Renewables—Green Data Centers the New Norm