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Energy efficiency 'about brand and regulation as much as cost'

Energy efficiency 'about brand and regulation as much as cost'

Energy efficiency 'about brand and regulation as much as cost'

There are many reasons why your business might want to improve energy efficiency. One of the most compelling is the potential to reduce costs.

By becoming more efficient, you can cut your energy consumption and receive lower bills, which could be hugely beneficial if your company is particularly energy-intensive or has tight finances.

As attractive as the prospect of lower costs is, experts have stressed that there are several other reasons why an increasing number of organisations are working towards greater energy efficiency. These include a positive brand image and regulatory compliance.

CoreNet Global, a professional association for the corporate real estate sector, released a report exploring the motivation behind businesses all over the world focusing on a state of zero net energy. This is the point where the total amount of energy consumed on the company's premises is equal to the amount of renewable power generated on-site.

The study featured contributions from a number of experts, including Karen Ellzey, executive managing director of consulting for global workplace solutions at CBRE, the commercial property and real estate services firm.

While saving money is a big advantage of energy efficiency and sustainability for many organisations, Ms Ellzey noted that other factors are growing in importance.

"It is a very active topic, but it may not be driven as much by cost and cost savings as it has in the past," she said. "I think it is going to be driven more by regulatory issues and companies' perspectives on how this is going to support their broader brand and social responsibility objectives."

As well as focusing on their own brand, businesses should be thinking carefully about the green credentials of any other companies they work with, from joint-venture partners to suppliers, to everyday service providers.

Mike Bendewald, a manager at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit sustainability research and consulting firm, said strategies to improve energy performance and move closer to a zero net energy position generally fall into three main categories.

The first is energy efficiency, which can include initiatives such as retrofitting buildings with LED lighting and installing greener heating and cooling systems. The second and third categories relate to renewable energy, which businesses can either generate on-site or purchase from specialist providers.

Smaller firms can take inspiration and follow examples of good practice from larger corporations that are placing a big emphasis on their environmental performance.

Unilever, the consumer-goods group whose brands include Ben & Jerry's, Dove and Persil, has set itself a goal of becoming carbon-positive by 2030. This means that, as well as deriving all of its energy from renewable sources, the company will support the generation of more sustainable power that will be made available in the markets and communities where it operates.

CoreNet Global also pointed out that many organisations are taking a broader view of this issue by choosing locations with easy access to public transport or introducing policies that support employees who cycle to work or buy hybrid vehicles.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock/solitude72